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Tammin, WA

Quiet wheatbelt town noted for its commitment to solving the salinity problem

Tammin is a typical wheatbelt town with huge wheat silos (constructed in 1960 they were the first concrete silos built in Australia), a railway line on one side of the road and the faithful old Tammin Hotel and a few shops on the other side. The main point of interest is the Tammin Hydrology Model which explains the huge problem of wheatbelt salinity.


Tammin is located 180 km east of Perth via Northam and the Great Eastern Highway.


Origin of Name

It is believed that Tammin derives its name from the "tammar" or "tammar wallaby", a small wallaby which was the first Australian marsupial ever sighted by Europeans. The name of the town is taken from an indigenous name for Tammin Rock which was recorded by Europeans in 1864. The rock probably takes its name from the animal although one source claims it means "a grandmother or a grandfather".


Things to See and Do

Hunt's Well
Located 4 km south of the town via Ralston Road, and clearly signposted, Hunt's Well may seem to be a strange relic of the past but it was essential and helped open up this wheatbelt area. Hunt dug vital water holes which offered survival for both stockmen and for the gold prospectors who came through the area on their way to Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie. Before the arrival of O'Connor’s pipeline Hunt's wells were the major source of water in the area. The plaque beside the well explains: "When explorer Charles Hunt first passed through this area on March 17th, 1864 during his first expedition east of York, he used the native well at Tammin Rocks. In February 1865, during his third expedition, a construction party consisting of six pensioner soldiers and ten convicts, stoned up this well."

Tammin Hydrology Model
One of the greatest threats to the Western Australian wheatbelt is salinity. It turns useful land into useless salt-dense drylands. The valuable Geocaching website (https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC78XN7_wst-tammin-hydrology-model?guid=4d2ba7d9-990d-4363-9c1f-39983e014a55) explains: "Over 1 million hectares of agricultural land in the south-west of Western Australia has been severely impacted by dryland salinity. It threatens a further 2.8 to 4.5 million hectares of highly productive soils across the south-west of WA. Lost agricultural production due to dryland salinity costs over $344 million each year. Most salt has come from the ocean, transported into the Wheatbelt by wind and rain over thousands and thousands of years, then accumulating in the soil. Without a water table, most salt remains within the soil.  Widespread clearing of original vegetation has reduced plant water use and caused water to build up in the ground, raising the water table.  As the water table rises, it dissolves the soil salts bringing this stored salt to the surface." Located at the excellent amphitheatre, through the park on Dannan Street and behind Tammin Hall, is Kadjininy Kep, or the Tammin Hydrology Model, a working model depicting a typical Wheatbelt landscape with farmland being lost to dryland salinity.


Other Attractions in the Area

Yorkrakine Rock
Located 26 km north of Tammin, Yorkrakine Rock is a substantial granite outcrop rising 341 metres and covering 160 hectares. It is a popular place for picnics and bushwalking. A strip of native flora surrounds the rock making it particularly impressive with the spring wildflowers. 

Wildflowers at the Charles Gardner Nature Reserve
Located 14 km south of Tammin, Charles Gardner Nature Reserve, which is 799 ha of natural vegetation, contains a wide variety of wildflowers some of which are unique to the region. Gardner was the Government Botanist and the nature reserve is important as an area for sandplain flora especially the rare Casuarina fibrosa. There is extensive information in the downloadable brochure - Wildflowers in the Eastern Wheatbelt. Check out http://www.tammin.wa.gov.au/Profiles/tammin/Assets/ClientData/Document-Centre/Wildflowers_in_the_Eastern_Wheatbelt_-_2016.pdf.

How to See WA Wildflowers - A Guide
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 needs 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. When innocently asking where I might see a wreath flower (they are a flower which naturally forms itself in a circle like a wreath – particularly appealing to those with a morbid interest in death) at the local coffee shop in Morowa I was told that there were some in the area but the person who knew was at the information office. 
At the information office I was advised, and this is verbatim, to "drive down the main street until you see the road that crosses over the railway line, drive across the line and past the Police Station and Fire Station (or is it the SES), turn right at the next road, continue up past the sheds for a couple of hundred yards [metres haven't arrived here yet] and you'll see some beside the road". Absorbing the instructions I headed off and three minutes later, having noticed a sign reading "Wreath Flowers" on a fence, I found the plant. 
Morowa also publish a leaflet titled "Morowa Wildflower Drives" which, if you were thorough, could keep you in the area for a couple of days.
At the next town, Mingenew (which, for lovers of Australian Big Things now boasts the Big Wheat Stalk – known locally as "Big Ears") the information centre provides both a map and a list of locations with details like "20 km on the Pingelly road on the left hand side there are some excellent wreath flowers". And at Watheroo there's a wonderful local mud map with wryly enthusiastic comments like "Heaps of banksia, grevillea, snake bush etc along the road" and, getting quite technical "Rare and Endangered. E. Rhodantha (rose mallee) Only large patch in the world".
(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. 



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Balardung First Nations people.

* The famous wheatbelt explorer and well digger, Charles Cooke Hunt, of whom John Forrest is supposed to have remarked 'Will I ever find a place where this man has not been before me', camped at Tammin Spring on 12 July 1864.

* In 1865, as he passed through the area, Hunt constructed a well. His diary entry for 4 March records: 'During the early part of the day the working party engaged sinking well - having made a hole about 10 ft long by 7 ft broad and 6 ft deep - by noon we obtained a plentiful supply of water for travelling purposes.'

*The first settler, John Packham, a Sussex farmer who had arrived in Australia in 1888, settled in the area in 1893.

* The railway to Southern Cross passed through the settlement in 1895.

* The town was officially gazetted in 1899.

* The  arrival of the Coolgardie water pipeline brought reliable water to the town in 1902.

* A bank was opened in 1908.

* The local Agricultural Hall was opened in 1911.

* By the 1920s there were 2,000 people living in the town.

* By 1932 the town had two grain elevators.

* In 1948 the Tammin Road Board was established.

* The first concrete wheat silos in Western Australia were built in the town in 1960.

* In 1961 the Shire of Tammin came into existence.

* In 1985 the Tammin Landcare Group was formed to reverse land degradation.

* In 1987 the local community purchased the hotel and garage.


Visitor Information

There is no Visitor Information Centre in Tammin. There is an information bay in the main street.


Useful Websites

There is a useful local shire website. Check out http://www.tammin.wa.gov.au

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