Quiet rural service centre in the heart of the wheatbelt
Pingelly is a quiet, rural service centre surrounded by a rural area which produces wheat, barley, sheep and cattle. While the town is pleasant and unassuming the surrounding area is known for its remarkable remnants of the flora and fauna which existed before the district was farmed.
Pingelly is located 154 km south-east of Perth and 297 m above sea level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
By 1873 maps of the area were referring to Pingeculling Rocks. It is believed that "pinge" was a local First Nations word meaning "small gully" and "culling" was water. The small settlement became known as "Pinge Gully" or "Pinge Culling" but when the railway reached the town in the late 1880s the spelling became "Pingelly".^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Located in the main street on the corner of Pasture and Parade Streets, the Courthouse Museum (it served as the local courthouse from 1907-1977) contains the usual folk museum memorabilia and an extensive photographic collection. An amusing idiosyncrasy is the rock which swings outside the museum. Don’t miss it. It has a wonderfully Aussie caption "A dry stone means it is not raining. A wet stone means it is raining. A shadow under the stone means the sun is shining. If the stone is swinging, the wind is blowing. If the stone jumps up and down, there is an earthquake. If the stone is white on top, it means it has been snowing. If the stone is wet on one side, it means dogs have passed by." The museum is open Tuesday and Saturday from 10.00 am - noon. For information tel: 0419 163 260.
Memorial Park is located next to the Courthouse Museum on the main street. It is notable for its beautiful gardens and lawns (often green when the rest of the district is dry). It is ideal for a family picnic or for a period of relaxation.
Pingelly Heights Observatory
Located at 25 Pingelly Heights (off the Aldersyde-Pingelly Road) the Pingelly Heights Observatory is owned and operated by retired school teacher, Trevor Keates and his wife, Susie. It was originally created as a hobby but, with eleven telescopes, it offers impressive opportunities to see the skies from the Western Australian wheatbelt. The excellent Relative Cosmos website (http://www.relativecosmos.com/wordpress/astronomy-places-aust) explains that "This facility specialises in the presentation of astronomical information and the viewing of the night sky through their telescopes ... Astro Ventures caters for schools, various community organisations and private parties on request." It is open by appointment or on Saturdays between 7.30 pm and 10.30 pm. For further information and reservations ring Susie or Trevor Keates on (08) 9887 0088 or 0407 380 922.
Other Attractions in the Area
Moorumbine Heritage Trail
Located 8 km east of Pingelly are the remnants of the town of Moorumbine which was settled in 1864. In 1988 an excellent Moorumbine Heritage Trail brochure, which provided detailed histories of the most prominent buildings in the old town, was produced. The highlight of the walk is:
St Patrick's Anglican Church
Located at 56 Moorumbine Road, St Patrick's Anglican Church was built of stone and shingle, completed in 1872 and consecrated the following year. It is listed by State Heritage who describe the building as "St Patrick's Church of England is a small Victorian Academic Gothic style church, constructed in 1873, to replace a previous attempt which collapsed before completion. The church stands in a landscaped setting on elevated ground. The Mourambine cemetery, set aside as a burial ground in 1873, is directly adjacent to the church. The building is approached via a stone arch and gates that were erected in 1949. The stone church building has six lancet windows and a high-pitched gable roof with stone gables. The roof, originally shingled, was replaced by CGI after the shingles deteriorated. The church building has an entrance porch to the nave. The roof lacks ornamentation other than the small cross at the altar end of the roof apex. The walls sit on a rendered base, and the walls and corners of the building, including the corners of the porch, are strengthened by simple stepped buttresses. There are three narrow lancets each side of the nave. The altar wall features three lancets which are glazed with stained and leaded glass. The windows along the knave have awning sashes. The stonework on the porch is pointed, the interior walls are rough rendered, and the entrance has a Tudor shaped door. The church interior is austere with the exception of the roof timbers. The roof is constructed of a series of cross beams. The floor is timber throughout and the walls are rendered. The Altar is slightly raised. A belfry without a bell, stands to the side of the Church. The roof of the church has been recovered, and the timber barge boards relaced with metal barge boards. The altar wall is braced with metal hooks to prevent separation and collapse." Check http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/Public/Inventory/Details/e1459540-66a3-4711-a15c-3a6bfe473cae for more detailed information.
The other buildings on the Heritage Trail are all private property but it is interesting to see the old Sandalwood Inne which was built in 1872, Atkins’ Cottage which was built the same year and Ingram’s Cottage, with its handmade bricks, which was completed in 1889.
Boyagin Rock Nature Reserve
Located 27 km north-west of the town, Boyagin Rock Nature Reserve is a combination of an impressive granite outcrop and a reserve characterised by stands of powderbark, jarrah and marri. It is the home of numbats and tammar wallabies. Boyagin is recognised as one of the few areas of original fauna and flora left in the wheat-belt. Of particular interest is the "unusual resurrection plant, a tough little plant known as pin cushions which dries out in summer and appears to have died only to be 'resurrected' by the first rains of winter." There are good picnic facilities. It is known for its impressive wildflower displays in spring and, according to the local Aborigines, if you want to the top of the rock without stopping you will be ensured a long life. For more details check out https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/boyagin-rock.
Tutanning Nature Reserve
Located 35 km east of Piingelly is the famous Tutanning Nature Reserve where the botanist Guy Shorteridge collected over 400 species of plants for the British museum between 1903 and 1906. It covers only about 2000 ha and is a remnant of the original fauna and flora of the region. Visitors are likely to see echidnas, geckos, Western grey kangaroos, woylies, Tammar wallabies, a variety of frogs, Wedge Tailed eagles, Elegant parrots and many more. It is known for its impressive wildflower displays in spring. There is an excellent description of an organised excursion to the nature reserve (with lots of pix) at https://www.wanaturalists.org.au/reports/tutanning-nature-reserve. For details about staying at the Percy Marshall Field Study Centre - and details of what to see in the Nature Reserve - check out https://www.pingelly.wa.gov.au/profiles/pingelly/assets/clientdata/tutanning_hut_-_important_information.pdf. It provides essential information.
How to See Wildflowers Around Pingelly
When planning a trip there are a number of very simple rules.
(1) Start by downloading Your Holiday Guide to Western Australia’s Wildflowers at http://www.westernaustralia.com/en/things_to_do/forest_and_flowers/pages/wawildflowers.aspx#/. It is a comprehensive guide to the wildflowers. There are over 12,000 species and 60% of them are found nowhere else on the planet.
(2) There is a tendency to say "But I won't know what I'm looking at" but that is rubbish. There are a number of great books and the best, by far, is the answer to "Wildflowers for Dummies" titled Colour Guide to Spring Wildflowers of Western Australia. It is privately published by Wajon Publishing Company, written by Eddie Wajon, and comes in three volumes – 1. Kalbarri and the Goldfields, 2. Perth and the Southwest and 3. Esperance and the Wheatbelt. They can all be purchased online from Kings Park & Botanic Garden in Perth. Check out https://www.aspectsofkingspark.com.au.
The publication's design masterstroke is that the flowers are listed according to their colours and all the pages are colour coded. Thus Mr and Mrs Wildflower Illiterate, when gazing at a Spiny Synaphea, only need to open at the "yellow flowers" section and flick through until they find the colour photo which matches the reality. The company can be contacted directly on (08) 9310 2936.
(3) No one should ever underestimate the power of local knowledge and assistance. The Western Australian wheatbelt, probably because of the declining prices for both wool and wheat and the increased levels of salinity, has decided that the spring wildflowers are a good for the local economy and worthy of patronage.
(4) There is a logical route which can be honed or expanded according to the amount of time you want to spend.
The best starting place, if you want to get a good foretaste of what you are about to experience in the wild, is to visit Kings Park & Botanic Garden in the heart of Perth. Apart from offering sensational views over the Swan River and the Perth CBD the gardens boast a 17 hectare area which has more than 1700 native species of wildflowers. This is, not surprisingly, rather pristine and not very wild but it does allow you to develop a working knowledge of devils pins, kangaroo paws, desert peas, everlastings, starflowers, grevilleas, firebush, a range of orchids and hundreds of other natives.
You really don't need to be a flora expert. All you need are your eyes and a sense of wonder because the Western Australian wildflowers in spring really are as remarkable and significant as a unique part of Australia as Uluru, the Great Ocean Road or Cradle Mountain.
Dryandra State Forest and Barna Mia
The Dryanda Woodland, also known as the Dryandra State Forest, is 28 000 ha of woodland surrounded by cleared wheatbelt country. It is located 45 km south of Pingelly. The forest is one of the largest remaining areas of natural woodland in the Western Australian wheatbelt and, as such, is a rare opportunity to experience what the area was like before it was cleared. Here are stands of wandoo and powderbark, pockets of jarrah and marri, some dryandra heath, mallee and rock sheoak. In these natural forests are colonies of such rare mammals as the small kangaroo-like woylie, tammar wallabies, numbats, honeyeaters, honey possums and pygmy possums. There are also over 100 species of bird, including the mallee fowl.
Barna Mia and Nocturnal Tours
Many of the native animals in the area are nocturnal and the best way to see these rare and unusual Australian creatures is to visit 'Barna Mia', an animal sanctuary located in the heart of the Dryandra woodlands some 41 km south of Pingelly. Check out https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/barna-mia-nocturnal-wildlife-experience for details. This website explains: "A tour guide takes visitors on a delightful journey through the sanctuary. Using specially placed lights, you can see threatened native animals such as dalgyte, woylie, wurrup, quenda and boodie. Many of Western Australia's native mammals have been eradicated from their former habitats because of predation by cats and foxes, cleared vegetation and changed fire regimes. Preservation of Dryandra's 28,000 hectares of bushland enabled several native species to survive. Furthermore, Dryandra is once again becoming home for other indigenous animal species that were locally extinct. The Parks and Wildlife Service's "Return to Dryandra" project aims to reintroduce native animals to former habitats by eliminating feral predators and establishing breeding programs. Six marsupials - the bilby, woylie, mala, marl, quenda and boodie - are breeding in a fenced enclosure that excludes feral predators. New populations are released into Dryandra Woodland and other areas of bushland in the hope that they will re-establish themselves in their former habitats. Tours operate several times per week beginning after sunset. Actual start times vary seasonally. March to November: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (except on public holidays).
December, January and February: Friday and Saturday only (except on public holidays).
The tour comprises a short talk in an auditorium before being given red light torches and taken out to feed the animals which live in 4 ha protected areas (predator-proof sanctuary) which surrounds the centre. Barna Mia can be accessed by driving from Narrogin on the Narrogin-Wandering Road north-west for 26 km. Then travel west along Tomingley Road from the Dryandra National Park main entrance and continue past Dryandra Village. About 45 minutes before a tour, a sandwich-board sign is placed on Tomingley Road to mark the turnoff at Marri Road. Bookings are essential, tel: (08) 9881 9200. Don't expect to take photographs: the sample here was taken at 3200 ISO at 1/15 of a second. Oh, yes, and don't expect to see a numbat - they tend to be daytime animals.
Bushwalks in the Dryandra National Park
The Woodland has, according to Trails WA, a total of eleven walks ranging from a one kilometre loop to a 12.5 km full day loop walk.
Lol Gray Trail - a wildflower experience which is a 12.5 km loop. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/lol-gray-trail for details and a map.
Congelin Siding Walk - an easy 1.6 km loop wildflower walk along the old Pinjarra-Narrogin Railway line. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/congelin-siding-trail.
Kawana Trail - an easy 3.3 km loop through wildflower country where you might see echidnas, dryandras and birds. It will take between 1-3 hours depending on how long you linger. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/kawana-trail.
Ochre Trail - a pleasant 5 km loop walk designed to introduce walkers to Noongar Aboriginal culture including an ochre pit. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/ochre-trail.
Wandoo Trail - a 2.7 loop walk through wandoo woodland with the possibility of seeing a numbat and excellent bird watching. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/wandoo-trail.
Lol Gray Loop - an easy walk on a 3.2 km loop which includes vegetation like banksia, woolly bush and pea flowers. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/lol-gray-loop.
Woylie Walk - a 5.5 km loop easy walk through the woodland where there are 25 mammals, 100 bird species and 50 reptiles. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/woylie-walk-dryandra-woodland.
Wandoo Night Walk - a 1 km loop which Trails WA describes as "A short night walk with markers that reflect torchlight. Look for nocturnal animals such as woylies, tammar wallabies, brushtail possums, tawny frog-mouths and owls among the wandoo trees and heath vegetation." Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/wandoo-night-walk for more details and a map.
Darwinia Drive Trail - a 23 km drive which explores the interdependence between the natural systems of the area through a series of five interpretative information bays. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/darwinia-drive-trail.
Breakaway Walk - a 1 km loop which offers excellent opportunities to see the difference between the developed farmland and the dryandra woodland. Check http://trailswa.com.au/trails/breakaway-walk for details and a map.
Fire Tower Walk - the Trails WA site explains: "Dryandra Woodland features the largest area of remnant vegetation in the western Wheatbelt and forms part of an international biodiversity ‘hotspot’ where more than 850 species of plants can be seen. The woodland of wandoo, kwongan (the Aboriginal word for heath and shrublands), mallee, sheoak thickets and plantations of brown mallet is home to the numbat, Western Australia’s state fauna emblem. It is also home to other threatened and remarkable fauna such as the red-tailed phascogale, woylie, western grey kangaroo, tammar wallaby, brushtail possum and echidna as well as a diverse variety of reptiles and insects." Check out http://trailswa.com.au/trails/fire-tower-walk for more details and a map.
* Prior to European settlement the land was inhabited by the Noongar First Nations people of the Wiilman language group.
* The first European settler in the area was Lewis John Bayley who took up land in 1846 and named his house ‘Mourambine’.
* The town and surrounding land was surveyed in 1856.
* More settlers reached the area in the 1860s when areas were being grazed and sandalwood cutters were looking for timber.
* The first township in the area was Mourambine which grew slowly until by the 1870s it consisted of a school, church, store, gaol, some houses and some wells.
* The name Pingaculling was first recorded in 1873.
* Mourambine was gazetted in April 1884.
* The railway line reached the district in 1889. Later that year the railway company built a siding which they named Pingaculling and later changed to Pingelly.
* In 1894 a local Agricultural Hall was opened.
* In 1898 a Post Office was built at Pingelly. At that time the town's white population was 89.
* In 1906 eight gas street lights were constructed on the main street. They were electrified in 1912.
* In 1909 Mourambine was included in the title of the Pingelly–Mourambine Road Board which was located in Pingelly.
* In 1961 the Road Board became the Pingelly Shire Council.
* In 2023 it was named the winner of the WA Tidy Towns award.^ TOP
The Pingelly Community Craft Centre acts as the Information Centre. The Craft Centre, Parade Street, tel: (08) 9887 1453.^ TOP
The shire has a local website - http://www.pingelly.wa.gov.au/ - which contains information about accommodation and dining in the local area.^ TOP