|The School House Museum
Typical wheatbelt town
Located 192 km east of Perth via Toodyay and 210 km via Northam, Wyalkatchem is a typical wheatbelt town whose economic survival depends on sheep and wheat. Known affectionately to the locals as Wylie¹ it is a small centre with a population of less than 500 servicing the surrounding properties. The area, according to the information board on the edge of town, produces 56 000 tonnes of wheat and 896 500 kg of wool per year. It has an average rainfall of 325 mm.
The district was first explored in 1864 but it wasn¹t until 1904 that land was taken up and it was as late as 1908 that the townsite was officially declared. The railway reached nearby Korrelocking in 1910. At this time Korrelocking, with its railway station, bar, barracks and boarding houses was a more important settlement. Wyalkatchem was nothing more than a few camps and a blacksmith¹s shop.
It is local knowledge, and probably one of those pieces of folk lore which has little basis in fact, that the town¹s unusual name derives from a trooper named Wylie¹ who because of his superior tracking skills was known to the local Aborigines as Wylie catchem¹. Believe it if you want to.
Another story, no more plausible, is that there was an Aboriginal tracker named Wylie and that the trooper used to call out to him Wylie catchem¹. You can believe that one if you prefer.
The town¹s great claim to fame hinges on the fact that it was the first place to convert from the very costly and time consuming process of bagged wheat over to bulk wheat loading facilities. This occurred at Korrelocking 13 km east of Wyalkatchem on 9 November 1931. The first trainload of bulk wheat departed from Wyalkatchem later that same year. It originally had three of the five bulk loading facilities in Western Australia and has become known as the cradle of bulk loading in the Western Australian wheatbelt.
Things to see:
Attractions in the Area
One of the original bulk wheat bins now serves as a museum housing a wide range of rural machinery from the early days of the town. It is usually locked but can be opened by contacting (08) 9681 1397 or the Shire Office on (08) 9681 1166.
There is also a typical small town museum full of interesting memorabilia from the area located on the corner of Gamble and Flint streets. One of its wonderfully idiosyncratic possessions is a set of false teeth with gold fillings.