|The Old Police Station now the Tourist Information Office
Quiet and attractive timber town.
Located 280 km south of Perth, Nannup is basically a timber town. Visitors entering the town from the south pass through an area of rolling hills and tall stands of karri trees (this is an area of great beauty) and their first view of Nannup is the blue smoke curling up from Bunnings Timber Mill on the outskirts of town.
The Nannup area was first explored by Thomas Turner (one of the original settlers at Augusta) who set out from Augusta in 1834 to explore the Blackwood River. It was subsequently settled in 1850s and 1860s by farmers who recognised the agricultural potential of the area.
The town's name probably means 'a meeting place by the water' in the language of the local Aborigines. An alternative suggestion is that it was the name of an Aboriginal guide who assisted the explorer John Forrest during his travels through the region.
Like all areas of the South West the life of the early pioneers was hard. The difficulty in felling the huge hardwood karri trees with nothing more sophisticated than a sharp axe must have been disheartening. The problems of trying to graze cattle in heavily timbered country must have been equally difficult.
The early settlers were farmers. Consequently the town grew slowly as a service centre. A bridge across the Blackwood River was built in 1866 and a Police Station and Post Office were established near the bridge in the late 1860s, the townsite was officially declared in 1890 and the first school in the district was opened in 1903.
It was not until the early 1900s that the full potential of the karri and jarrah trees was realised and exploited. Bunnings Mill dates from that period and, for all of this century, it has been the major employer in the town. In fact without Bunnings Nannup would be no more than a tiny village beside the river. Tours of Bunnings Mill are available. Contact the Mill Office or Tourist Information on (08) 9756 1211.
The intriguing feature about Nannup is that most of the historic attractions in town have either been destroyed or replaced. Bunnings Mill has been operating on its present site since 1926 but the present mill, which was built after fire destroyed the original mill in 1954, bears little relationship to the original structure. The bridge over the Blackwood River at the northern end of town dates from 1967 when it replaced a one lane bridge which had been built by convicts in 1866. The original Nannup Roads Board building is now used privately and a new building was completed in the 1960s. Even the Nannup Hotel, which was originally constructed on the present site in 1899, was replaced in 1910 and altered in 1924 and 1965.
Things to see:
Nannup Police Station
The original Nannup Police Station built in 1868 was replaced by a more modern structure in 1922 which was closed down in 1984 and is now used as the Tourist Information Office.
Over the road from the Old Police Station is one of the town's few interesting old buildings, Templemore, which was built around 1908 by the Irishman, James Kearney. It was the town's first brick dwelling and in the 1930s was used as a guest house. It is an attractive Victorian villa.
This lack of observable history has seen the town concentrate its appeal on walks and drives which take visitors through the forests which surround the town. Maps and details of the drives are available at the Tourist Information Centre. The drives include the Nannup-Donnelly Scenic Drive, the River Road Drive and the Jarrah Forest Drive which passes Darradup House (1867) the oldest building in the district.
Nannup Heritage Trail
Apart from the drives there is an excellent and informative Nannup Heritage Trail brochure which combines a pleasant 2.5 km walk around the town with a short 9 km drive in the area.
|The Memorial to Marinko Tomas
Memorial to Marinko Tomas
In the park on the Vasse Highway at the southern end of town is a memorial to Marinko Tomas, a local youth who became the first Western Australian to be killed in Vietnam.
The Tasmanian Tiger
One of the local 'legends' (should it be treated as fact) is that there may still be Thylacine's (commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger but in this area known as the Nannup tiger) in the area. There have been reported sightings over the years and fossils in the caves to the west have shown that this was once thylacine habitat. In 1970 there was a serious attempt to find the animal but the seriousness was somewhat diffused when some wit painted stripes on a sheep and added a long tail.
Books and Maps
A fascinating book recalling the history of Nannup during the war years titled War Clouds over Nannup has been written by Arthur E. Hartley who was headmaster at Nannup School from 1942-47. Unlike many local histories it is lucid and entertaining and gives some valuable insights into the kind of lives which were led in small rural communities before World War II.
The Department of Land Administration has produced an excellent map titled Southern Forests which identifies all the major attractions in the area as well as providing town maps of Manjimup, Pemberton, Bridgetown and Nannup.