In 1921, Western Australia embarked on a group settlement scheme which saw 6,000 British families migrate to Western Australia to become farmers. The scheme aimed to increase Australia’s population after World War I and decrease the reliance on imported agricultural goods.
Each settlers group was made up of up to 20 families who were placed on 160 acre blocks which they cleared in return for 10 shillings a day. After the land was cleared, families were allocated their own area to farm.
The Department, then called the Workers‟ Homes Board, built houses for many of these settlers farms. The houses were “Type 7‟ timber cottages which consisted of three bedrooms and a kitchen/living area. Most had a rain tank, an out-house toilet and no electricity.
By 1927, many of the settlers farms had been abandoned due to isolation and financial hardships caused by inadequate government planning and support and lack of reliable transport of their goods to the city.
In 1930, the scheme was dismantled and labelled a “glorious failure‟.
As a result of the failed scheme, the Workers’ Homes Board was faced with the issue of hundreds of relatively new cottages being abandoned across regional Western Australia in areas such as Manjimup, Busselton, Augusta and Denmark.
In 1931, the Board began dismantling, removing, re-erecting and enlarging the cottages to sell to workers on leasehold land.
“The purchaser gets the home for about £50 or £60 less than he would if he paid for the erection of a new building, and, in addition, the Group Settlement Branch, which is paid for the cottages by the Workers’ Homes Board, is saved the loss which would ensue if the building was left on an abandoned block,” reported The West Australian, 25th July 1931.
My Margaret River friend Carroll took me for a girl’s day out to have lunch at St. Allards Eco Resort. On the way we stopped to take a closer look at this small part of history slowly disintegrating.
We tried to imagine what it must’ve been like for the English families, many of them with no farming background, as they struggled to adapt to the harsh Australian conditions. A very basic structure for a house, no lining on the walls, no insulation on the tin roof, no electricity, no shop at the end of the street. Most of them simply gave up and walked away. Where did they go? There is no record of that.
We drove on to St. Allard’s Eco Resort for our lunch. Maybe we could also be classed as a couple of relics of times gone by, but, I hasten to add, well-preserved ones. Also very thankful to be living in this day and age. Life has never been as difficult for our generation, and it is with gratitude that I look back on the struggles of the pioneers.
We finished the day with a wander through the beautiful regenerating bush that surrounds the Resort.
After a 4 week absence from the “Weekly Photo Challenge” it is a good theme this week for me to show you a relic or two from Western Australia.