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Narembeen, WA

Quiet rural town at the eastern end of the Western Australian wheatbelt

Narembeen is a small wheatbelt town which came into existence because the locals wanted a pub and the nearby citizens of Emu Hill, which was no more than a railway siding, refused to allow a hotel to be built in their settlement. If the teetotal community of Emu Hill (now no more than a siding 5 km south of Narembeen) had been happy to have a hotel, Narembeen would not exist. Today this quiet town is home to the Grain Discovery Centre. There are a number of lakes and bushwalks in the district.

Location

Narembeen is located 280 km east of Perth via York and Bruce Rock.

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Origin of Name

Narembeen is the local Aboriginal name for Emu Hill which got its English name when the explorer John Septimus Roe, in 1836, saw a family of emus making their way up a hill. In 1860 Charles Smith took up a pastoral lease and named his property "Narimbeen". In 1865 the explorer Charles Cooke Hunt recorded the spelling as "Narembeen". The meaning of the name is not known.

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Things to See and Do

Grain Discovery Centre
Located opposite the Narembeen Roadhouse on Latham Road, the Grain Discovery Centre, which is open from 9.00 am - 5.00 pm daily, is an interpretative centre telling the story of grain growing in Western Australia. The Narembeen website explains: "Exhibits include a 1950s farm house kitchen, a ‘humpy’, a grain stack, an interactive CBH area with weighbridge and hut, displays on the future of farming and a supermarket showing end products, like breakfast cereals and bread.  The centre also has an interactive agribusiness section, an export area detailing the journey of grain from farm paddock to overseas markets and displays on the future of farming." For more information check out https://www.narembeen.wa.gov.au/visitors/things-to-do-and-see.

Narembeen Hawk
Local sculptor, Jordan Sprigg, designed this huge hawk from recycled metal. The sculpture, which has a 2.5 metre wingspan and was created with over 1,000 pieces of metal, is located near the Narembeen Recreation Centre in Currall Street. It was unveiled in 2016.

Narembeen Public Hall
Built in 1939 this unusual "town hall" is a fine example of rural Art Deco. There really is no other town hall in Australia quite like it. The State Heritage has described the building as "The Narembeen Public Hall has been designed specifically to address the prominent intersection at which it is located, and is dominant within a Civic precinct which comprises the Road Board Building and Lesser Hall. The architects had previously undertaken considerable works in the contemporary modern art deco design ethos in the city and the regional areas. The Public Hall was a purpose built structure. The entry statement wraps the corner site and addresses the two major streets that converge on the site. The roof is concealed by uninterrupted smooth parapet walls and a horizontal emphasis is designed into the sweeping curve, the faceted windows, the cantilevered eyebrow and the banding in the bio box parapet. The front piece of the building is an asymmetrical structure from any angle, but the balance and design proportion finds a symmetry in many of the relationships of the elements. The walls are curved into the entry space. Small ticket box openings are located in the entry space. The Bio Box on the upper level extends to a parapet wall and has three recessed horizontal bands emphasising the curve in the parapet section of the wall. Stylised lettering is integral within the wall treatment. The interior ventilators and ceiling details were designed in a geometric abstract manner consistent with the contemporary art deco style. The stage area is very functional with external and front hall access doors to left and right stage. Large ledge and brace style wall/doors swing into position on both sides of the stage to provide dressing room facilities. The proscenium is curved into the stage as is the ceiling detail above the stage, a clever design device directing the eye in the direction of the stage. An original light fitting remains in situ in the foyer." For more details check out http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/Public/Inventory/Details/e87960a4-27fd-46d4-84f6-ccb0655bd399.

St Paul's Museum
Located in Longhurst Street, St Paul's Museum is located in an old church which was consecrated in 1929. It was opened as a museum in 1969 and restored in 1999. The primary function of the museum is to highlight the pioneer women who moved into the area and were vital to the development of the district.

Walker Lake
Located off Brown Street at the eastern end of the town is Walker Lake, a salt pan during periods of low rainfall and a pleasant lake when there has been abundant rain. There is a 1.8 km walk around the lake.

Narembeen Machinery Museum
Located in Savage Street, the History & Machinery Museum combines an outdoor museum with lots of old farm equipment and an indoor museum with local photographs and antiques. For more information check out https://www.narembeen.wa.gov.au/visitors/step-back-in-time.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Hidden Hollow
Located 36 km east of Narembeen on the Mount Walker Road, this granite outcrop is an ideal place to find wildflowers in the wildflower season (July-November). The outcrop has both a natural amphitheatre, some interesting structures designed to store the water which fell on the rock, and a walking track which allows visitors to climb to the top and admire the view.

The No. 1 Rabbit-Proof Fence
There is a sign marking the famous Rabbit Proof Fence which is located 70 km east of Narembeen. The fence was 1833 km long. It was constructed between 1901 and 1907 to keep rabbits out of farming areas and the No.1 fence ran from north to south. It was the longest unbroken fence in the world. There were three Rabbit Proof Fences in Western Australia and one, famously, was used as a guideline for three young Aboriginal girls in the 1930s who walked the length of the fence to make their way back to their families. To see sections of the fence, ask for directions at the Community Resource Centre and to understand its significance see Phil Noyce's 2002 film Rabbit-Proof Fence or read Doris Pilkington Garimara's book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence upon which the film was based.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was occupied by the Nyoongar Aboriginal people.

* The first European explorer into the area was Surveyor General J. S. Roe who, on 11 October 1836, camped near a rocky outcrop which he named Emu Hill. 

* In the 1850s a small number of European settlers moved into the area. 

* In 1860 Charles Smith settled in the area and named his property "Narimbeen".

* In 1863 the explorer Henry Maxwell Lefroy travelled through the area and visited Charles Smith who had settled near Emu Hill.

* By the 1860s there were sandalwood cutters working in the area.

* By the early years of the twentieth century, land in the district was opened up and farmers moved in to graze sheep and grow wheat on small 1000 acre (about 405 ha) holdings. 

* The area around Emu Hill and Narembeen was surveyed in 1910.

* In 1917 the township of Narembeen was just a siding on the railway line from Kondinin.

* By 1920, after the arrival of the railway, the town was nothing more than a siding for Emu Hill.

* Between 1920 and 1922 the importance of the two sidings reversed. In 1920 Emu Hill was the largest centre but the local community, when confronted with the possibility of building a hotel, opposed the plan and suggested a coffee palace or temperance hotel. 

* To solve the teetotal problem of Emu Hill  a prominent Perth lawyer, Henry Hale, and a Perth publican, Paddy Connolly, purchased 30 acres (about 12 ha) of land at Narembeen, got permission to build a pub and then sold the remaining land to prospective residents and created a 'private town'.

* The pub was built in 1922.

* In 1940 the Narembeen Public Hall was opened. A Perth orchestra played at the opening.

* A townsite was finally gazetted in 1968.

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Visitor Information

Narembeen Community Resource Centre, 2/19 Churchill Street, tel: (08) 9064 7055, Open 8.30 am - 4.30 pm.

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Useful Websites

There is a local website which has useful information about the town and district. Check out https://www.narembeen.wa.gov.au/visitors/things-to-do-and-see

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