|Hotel Beverley with fountain in the main street
Typical wheatbelt town on the banks of the Avon River
Located 132 km east of Perth in the heart of the wheat-sheep belt, Beverley is set on the banks of the Avon River. In many ways it is a typical wheatbelt town (of the larger variety) but its size and the attractiveness of its main street make it more than just another simple service centre. It has a population of over 1200.
Land was assigned in the area around Beverley as early as 1832 when both the Governor, James Stirling, and Captain Mark Currie were granted land.
The town of Beverley was established in 1838, only nine years after the Swan River settlement. The Colonial Surgeon at the time, Charles Simmons, named the town after Beverley in Yorkshire, England.
It remained a small centre until the arrival of the railway in 1886 when it became an important arrival point for people from the east and Albany.
It is hard to imagine that between 1886 (when Beverley was the rail terminus) and 1889 when the line was extended to Albany, travellers would arrive at Albany, travel by coach to the railhead at Beverley, and then travel the final leg of their journey to Perth by rail. However this did occur and it made Beverley an important point on a major transport route. The railway station was built in 1886 and is now one of the oldest buildings in the town. It closed down in 1975 and has recently reopened as a bric-a-brac shop.
Things to see:
The town's major attraction is the Aeronautical Museum which was built in 1967 to honour the local inventor Selby Ford who, with a cousin Tom Shackles, built a biplane which they called the 'Silver Centenary'. Although neither man was a flier, the plane was. The two men had literally designed the plane in chalk on their garage floor. They spent two years building it. It first flew in 1930. Later it was taken to Maylands Airfield where Major de Havilland and the aviatrix Amy Johnson flew it. Unfortunately it was never licensed because there were no blueprints of its design. It's hard taking a garage floor to the licensing board!
While the 'Silver Centenary' (named after the centenary of the state) is the major exhibition, the Museum does have a comprehensive display of early aviation in Western Australia including some very interesting photographs and a 1938-style ultralight plane.
The Town Hall and the Hotel
Although Beverley is one of the earliest settlements in Western Australia, it lacks very early buildings. It does, however, have two fine examples of Art Deco style buildings in the Town Hall and Beverley Hotel. The oldest building in town (now immaculately restored) is the 'Dead Finish' Hotel. It was built in 1872 and known variously as the Wheatsheaf Hotel and The Old Settlers Arms. However the habit of workers, particularly local sandalwood cutters, of stopping in before they headed out for more sandalwood resulted in it being nicknamed the 'Dead Finish'. There was a time when it was centrally located in the town but the arrival of the railway in 1886 saw the town slowly move towards the railway station. Keys are available at the Shire Office.
Across the river from the town centre (follow Vincent Street out of town) is the local cemetery where the Aboriginal tracker Billy Noongale, who accompanied the explorer John Forrest on his trek from Perth to Adelaide in 1870, is buried.