Wundowie (including Wooroloo)
One of the youngest towns in Western Australia
Located 70 km northeast of Perth and 340 m above sea level, Wundowie is one of the newest towns in Western Australia. There was a timber mill built in the area during World War I and as a result a small village of timber workers grew up. However it wasnıt until after World War II that the town really came into existence. In 1942 the Western Australian government decided to carry out a feasibility study with a view to establishing an the iron and steel industry. The following year they decided to establish a wood distillation and charcoal-iron plant (for the production of pig iron) and, as a result of this decision, the town of Wundowie came into existence in 1947 and the plant began operating in 1948.
The reason for the selection of the site was its proximity to all the basic elements required to establish the factory. There was water from the Mundaring pipeline, good railway access, and both timber and iron ore in the area. At its peak the plant was producing high grade pig iron (the local iron ore proved to be unsatisfactory and iron had to be brought in from Koolyanobbing). Acetic acid and methanol were being produced from dry distillation of local wood.
By the 1950s the town was the major pig iron producer in the state but the development of Kwinana in the late 1950s quickly surpassed the plantıs production.
Nearby is the tiny township of Wooroloo which has been the home for the noted writer Elizabeth Jolley, who has set many of her stories and poems in the hills. Her poem The Orchard is a wonderful depiction of rural scepticism with lines like:
So youıve bought this place well let me tell you
straight away your soilıs no good all salt even a
hundred and sixty feet down and up on the slopes
is outcrops of granite and dead stumps of dead
wood nothingıll grow there we know weıve tried
what the crows donıt take the rabbits and bandicoots
Things to see:
Nature Reserves in the Area
There are two small reserves in the area both of which have springs which discharge fresh water for most of the year. The Beelaring Spring Nature Reserve is only 36 ha and is located 19 km from Wundowie. Even closer is Gooharing Spring Nature Reserve which is only 8 km from town and covers an area of 53 ha. Jarrah and marri grow in the reserves and there is plentiful fauna and flora which has been attracted to the area by the reliable water supply.