|Fields of wheat in the Mid West
Typical northern wheatbelt township.
Located 383 km north of Perth on the Midlands Highway and 119 km east of Geraldton, Mingenew is a typical northern wheatbelt town with a railway line, a bulk handling wheat silo, a single pub which has motel-style accommodation, a couple of service stations and a caravan park.
The town is named after the nearby Mingenew Hill but no one knows exactly what Mingenew is supposed to mean. The popular versions are either the Aboriginal word 'mininoo' meaning 'place of many waters' or 'minyanoo' meaning 'place of many ants'.
The first Europeans into the area were the Gregory brothers (Augustus Charles, Francis and Henry Churchman) who, in seven weeks in 1846, travelled north from Perth and found both good grazing land and the Irwin River coal seam in the Mingenew area. The area was explored further in the late 1840s by Lieutenant Helpmann who followed the Irwin River to its source. He found the spring which has become the popular Depot Hill picnic site.
32 km north east (Coalseam Road runs off the Morowa Road) is the coal seam discovered by the Gregory brothers. The area, which is now a picnic ground, still has remnants of the exploratory shafts (coal was never mined commercially as it was too soft). This whole area is famous for its marine fossils which lie in rock strata which was laid down during the Permian period, approximately 250 million years ago.
Today the economy of the area is dominated by sheep, wheat and lupins. The town services the needs of the surrounding area.
Things to see:
Mingenew Hill and Depot Hill
Visitors to the town should start by going to Mingenew Hill which offers an excellent view over the surrounding countryside. Similarly Depot Hill (take the Mullewa Road and turn west at Depot Hill Road) which was used as a gunnery during World War II is a popular local haunt. Both hills are remnants of the Victoria Plateau which has been dissected and eroded by the Irwin River so that now only rocky outcrops remain.
Mingenew is a town with some delightful idiosyncracies.
The Mingenew Hotel boasts one of the largest and most prominent spelling errors in the country with its proud announcement of 'Accommadation' and the local Roman Catholic Church (on the corner of William and Irwin Streets) declares that it was built in 1908 although it was actually built in 1903. The original 1903 foundation stone was covered over by subsequent additions.
The town's Museum, located on the corner of Irwin Street and Victoria Street, is housed in the old Roads Board Office. Its displays are a typical collection of local memorabilia recalling the early pioneering history of the town and surrounding area.