|The Drovers Inn
Moora (including Dandaragan)
Substantial wheatbelt service centre.
Located 189 km north of Perth, Moora is a substantial wheatbelt town which depends for its livelihood upon the twin rural activities of sheep and wheat.
The largest town between Geraldton and Perth, Moora has a population of 1400. This gives some indication of the smallness of most of the towns in the area. Although Moora is a pleasant little town its major attractions exist outside the town boundaries - it has spectacular wildflower displays in season and historic Berkshire Valley is a major tourist attraction.
The area was first explored by George Fletcher Moore who named the Moore River in 1836. The settlement of the area occurred in the 1840s but there was no need for a township. As late as 1873, when the telegraph passed through the area, the operator was a member of the family at Berkshire Valley. The town eventually grew up on the banks of the river and was officially gazetted on 12 April 1895. It was named after some sort of corruption of 'Maura' which was said to be the name local Aborigines gave to a well to the west of the town.
Things to see:
Berkshire Valley Folk Museum
The real historical interest in the area is Berkshire Valley, now a Folk Museum, which is located 19 km to the east of the town.
The Berkshire Valley complex - a homestead (1847), stables (1867), a shearing shed (1869), barn, manager's cottage (1856) and bridge (1869) - is both fascinating and bizarre. Here is an attempt in the middle of the nineteenth century in the dry wheatlands of Western Australia to reproduce a Berkshire farm complex down to the finest detail. It is the English equivalent of New Norcia.
The elaborate buildings were made from adobe, pise, hand made bricks and unworked stone. The builder, James Clinch, was himself a poor Berkshire farm hand who had made good in Western Australia and who, obviously since childhood, had harboured deep desires to own the kind of farm that he had only ever worked on. It is built to fulfill a fantasy rather than to sensibly use the local materials.
Clinch built his 'village' over a 25 year period starting in 1847, when he first settled in the area, and continuing until 1869 when he built the huge shearing shed. It is claimed that the two–arched bridge near the entrance to the village was the first of its kind to be built in Western Australia.
Berkshire Village is one of the earliest examples of the desire of successful Western Australians to show everyone how well they have done. The modern equivalent can be seen in Victoria Road in Perth where vacant blocks of land indicate where failed entrepreneur Laurie Connell was planning to build his massive home. Nearby is Alan Bond's mansion.
Berkshire Village can be inspected at any time of the year but it is only officially open (ie. access to the buildings) from noon to 4.00 every second Sunday between April and October. Of particular interest is the Mill Museum which has exhibits of old household equipment and some particularly interesting agricultural photographs. Special group arrangements can be made by contacting (08) 9654 9040 or (08) 9651 1644.
|West Australian Christmas Tree in a wheat field near Moora
Moora Heritage Trail
The excellent Moora Heritage Trail brochure (it can be obtained from the local shire office) encompassed Berkshire Village as well as a number of interesting local historical locations including the local Court House, three Gothic churches and the Drovers Inn, all of which were built in the period immediately before World War 1.
There is also an interesting Moora Wildflower Drive brochure, also available at the local shire office, which suggests a route from Moora to Watheroo National Park and identifies the flowers the visitor is likely to see.