|Shakespeare's Birthplace, The Elizabethan Village, Armadale
Commuter area to the south of Perth with interesting historic attractions
Located 27 km south of Perth and effectively a commuter suburb of the city, Armadale (which proclaims itself as Heritage Country) is an attractive semi-suburban area which, with its interesting Minnawarra Historic Precinct, Elizabethan Village and Pioneer World offers visitors and day trippers much more than the usual commercial tourist attractions.
The Armadale-Kelmscott area was first settled in 1830 after the site had been explored by Ensign Dale. The township of Kelmscott was gazetted and declared in that year as a military outpost to protect the early settlers and explorers who moved into the area. The military outpost was manned by 17 members of the 63rd Regiment. The township of Kelmscott was named after the Oxfordshire birthplace of Archdeacon T. H. Scott.
By the early 1850s convict labour had built a good road from Armadale to Perth and by 1853 the Narrogin Inn, the first building in the township of Armadale, had been constructed on the corner of the Albany and South West Highways. It is now known as Ye Olde Narrogin Inne and has been incorporated into Pioneer World. It is but a glimmer of the old wattle and daub hotel which greeted travellers in the nineteenth century.
An account of a journey from Perth in 1880 captures the enthusiasm with which the Royal Mail Van greeted the sight of the Narrogin Inn.
'Roads in bad condition. Started early morning from Terrace, and over Causeway. First eight miles were jarrah blocked. Speed ten miles an hour...About noon guard Radley heralds our approach to 'Ye Olde Narrogin Inne' with a lively tattoo on his bugle. As we cross the old rustic bridge, host Foster and his attendant stableman is waiting to serve a hurried meal to man and beast. On again, up that wooded slope...'
The modern site of Armadale was known simply as Narrogin Inn until the arrival of the railway line. It was then officially named Armadale. No one knows the exact origin of the name. It is possible that it was a misspelling of Armidale in New South Wales but a more likely explanation is that it comes from Armadale in Scotland.
The area grew slowly with pastoralists and timber workers moving into the district and taking up land. The first sawmill in the district was built at Roleystone in 1866 and by 1871 a local Roads Board had been established.
The growth of the timber industry in the 1880s saw a rapid growth in the population. Jarrah, red gum and sheoak were felled and transported to the coast to be used in such building projects as the Rockingham Jetty and the bridge over the Canning River at Kelmscott.
The arrival of the railway line in 1889 guaranteed the continuing survival of the settlement. Proximity to Perth meant that local farmers had a ready market for their produce. The settlement grew rapidly at this time with a significant number of shops being built near the railway station. This was probably the single most important development for Armadale.
Today Armadale is part of Perth's South East Urban corridor and as such has become a popular and attractive commuter suburb for the city.
Things to see:
|The school and the church in the Minnawarra Historic Precinct, Armadale
Minnawarra Historic Precinct
A series of developments in the 1970s - History House Municipal Museum (1976), Elizabethan Village (1977) and Pioneer World (1980) have ensured that Armadale has become a popular tourist destination on the edge of the city. It was proclaimed the City of Armadale in 1985.
An obvious starting point for any visit to Armadale is the Minnawarra Historic Precinct which is located on the edges of the extraordinarily beautiful and peaceful Minnawarra Park.
Comprising an old school and a church (both of which have been rebuilt on the site with loving attention to detail) and a museum the Historic Precinct is an excellent example of a local council's commitment to the preservation of a district's history.
The museum is an outstanding and well laid out folk museum with interesting displays of Aboriginal artifacts and local farming equipment.
Further up the hill (take Carradine Road off the Albany Highway and follow the signs) is the Elizabethan Village, a superb facsimile of Shakespeare's Birthplace and Anne Hathaway's Cottage set in the dry hills above Armadale. By any measure this is a no expenses spared extravaganza with both buildings being set in extensive gardens. The gardens around Anne Hathaway's cottage are open to the public and the two major buildings Shakespeare's Birthplace and Anne Hathaway's Cottage now provide bed and breakfast accommodation. The complex also includes an olde English-style pub called the Elizabethan Village Pub.
History of the Area
A detailed history of the region titled First Stage South: A History of the Armadale-Kelmscott District, Western Australia has been written by Daphne Popham and published by the Town of Armadale.