|The bulk handling facility at Koorda
Wheatbelt town which promotes itself as 'Corn Dolly Country'
Located 235 km north-east of Perth, Koorda is a typical wheatbelt town which, in a bid to establish that it is different from all the other wheatbelt towns, promotes itself as 'corn dolly country'. Surely they deserve marks for originality. This strange English custom of plaiting straw was brought to the area by Frank Lodge who arrived in 1911 and continued plaiting until his death in 1962. In 1982 the local show took the idea up and instituted Australia's first Corn Dolly Festival. The popularity of the activity has now reached a point where wheat is specially grown for corn dolly making.
Koorda is a tiny township with a population of less than 400 people. Even the shire only has a population of around 620. The area was first explored by Surveyor General J. S. Roe in October 1836 when, in his travels beyond the Avon Valley, he camped a few kilometres north of the present townsite.
By the 1840s there were shepherds and sandalwood cutters in the area although there was no permanent settlement until the 1860s. The agricultural potential of the area was recognised in the 1890s (this was part of Premier John Forrest's plan to populate the wheat-belt and involved giving people 1000 acres (about 405 ha) on the understanding that they lived on it and made certain improvements (fencing, clearing, etc.) and the first permanent settlement in the shire occurred in 1907. A decade later the railway from Wyalkatchem came through the area and a siding named Koorda was established. This, combined with the building of a dam to meet the district's water needs, was enough to see the township begin to establish itself.
At first the township was simply a railway camp but over the years a general store, butcher's shop, bakery and greengrocer, post office and hostel were all built. The Koorda Road Board was established in 1928.
Things to see:
Koorda's main attraction is the local museum which has been located in the town's old hospital. It has taken its theme from its location and consequently has interesting displays of old hospital equipment as well as the usual collections of domestic and agricultural equipment.
There is a list of phone numbers outside the Koorda Museum which can be contacted by people interested in having a look at this local folk museum.
Books and Brochures
Like so many of the small wheat-belt towns Koorda has its own Heritage Trail brochure (which is particularly useful for people who wish to inspect the wildflowers in the region - it also has directions to the town's first dam) and there have been two books written on the town. Some Women of Koorda by Eva Braid is a Country Women's Association history of the town and as such is an interesting and unusual social document. Koorda: A District Emerges by Hellen Antonio-Crake is a very detailed history published by the local shire in 1974 and still available from the local museum.