Rich rural service centre known as the 'A Breath of Fresh Air'
Located 140 km south of Perth and 36 m above sea level, Harvey is a substantial rural service centre surrounded by orchards, market gardens, an important timber industry and rich agricultural land where sheep, beef and dairy cattle are grazed. The combination of fields and paddocks kept green by irrigation and the wildflowers on the surrounding hills has earned the area the rather Biblical accolade of the 'Land of Milk and Honey'.
The first European to explore the area around Harvey was a British army officer, Major Harvey, who surveyed the district in 1834.
It was another decade before Maurice B. Smith took up 160 acres near Lake Preston becoming the first European settler in the Harvey district. He was followed in 1849 by E. Clarke who built a brick house at Jardup about 10 km east of Harvey.
The first business premises in town, J Knowles House & Store dating from 1890, is a well preserved old building made from jarrah. It now houses the local folk museum which, amongst its memorabilia, has some unusual prints depicting the early history of the area.
The major development of the area's agricultural potential occurred after 1916 when the Harvey Weir was built. The combination of the Harvey Weir, the first irrigation system in Western Australia, and the Stirling Reservoir, ensured the continuing agricultural prosperity of the region. The irrigation channels which run from the new Harvey Dam ensure that this is some of the richest country in the state. Under the $275 million Stirling-Harvey Redevelopment Scheme, Stirling Dam is being redeveloped to boost water supplies to the south east, Perth and the Goldfields. Harvey Dam has been expanded to meet the irrigation needs of the area and is due for completion in 2002. Although recreation facilities at Stirling Dam are now restricted, Harvey Dam will offer a wide range of recreational activities upon its completion. There will be pleasant bushwalks and trails around the dams which, during the season, pass through fields of wildflowers. As well there will be canoeing, swimming and picnicking for the whole family.
Things to see:
For people wanting to explore the beauty of the area the drive into the Darling Ranges to the new Harvey Dam and further on to Stirling Dam offers a number of pleasant picnic spots and interesting bushwalks. There is no fishing and limited activities at Stirling Dam.
To the north of the town is the Logue Brook Dam which is used by holiday makers for water skiing, sailing, swimming, sailboarding and fishing.
To the south, up the Mornington Road and follow the signs, is the 'Big Tree' reputedly the largest jarrah tree in existence. It is located 25 km from Harvey.