Newspaper article April 1994

Gidgegannup’s history

Hampstead Hills

Originally known as Hampstead Hills, the name was changed in 1946 in reaction to the English derived name.

Gidgegannup Is an aboriginal word meaning “spear in the tree in the water.” “I have been told that a tree exists with a spear through it and that is where the name comes from” Mr Beamish said.  It’s alleged that Gidgegannup was one of the first places English convicts were sent to work.

Convicts built the Toodyay Road from Midland Junction to Newcastle, which is now known as Toodyay.  They built small mud huts along the road side to live in while building the road.

Still standing along the road side part of the original Toodyay Road is the telephone/telegraph line constructed in 1871.  It’s the original line that connected Western Australia to the Eastern States.

The timber was used for house building throughout Perth and Guildford, bridge construction and even coffin boards.

“Many small railway lines were built throughout Gidgegannup to transport the logs and some lines can still be seen” Mr Beamish said.

Lake Leschenaultia, originally named Chidlow Well was a man-made source of water used for steam engines, which transported timber in Gidgegannup and Mt Helena.

Smith’s Mill closed in 1954 when the price of land boomed and sub division became more profitable than timber milling.

The first farm in Gidgegannup was Balup Farm which was also a coach stop for travellers en route to Toodyay.  Allegedly the inn was also a site for dispensing sly grog and was the home of several notorious riots.

Land sales began around 1927 but it wasn’t until the early 1940’s that a farming community was firmly established. “Conditional purchase applied when you brought land so that 10 per cent of the purchase price was spent each year on improving the land” Mr Beamish said.

Two community society’s began in 1946 and have remained an important part of the Gidgegannup community.   The Hamstead Hills Progress Association and the Gidgegannup Agricultural Society were developed to promote the welfare of the citizens and land of Gidgegannup.   Land and cash was donated by a timber company to establish a home for the two societies.  Locals spent several busy bees building a hall which remains today as the home for the societies.   Dances were a popular event in the hall where music was supplied either by an orchestra or an electric gramophone.

It’s alleged that the notorious WA bushranger Moondyne Joe was a regular visitor throughout the Gidgegannup area.   Arriving as a convict from England in 1853 Moondyne Joe roamed the Darling Ranges after a conditional pardon in 1855.  Moondyne Joe had many run-ins with the for stealing and prison breaking.  “I don’t know if it’s “true that Moondyne Joe came to Gidgegannup as ‘many places in the state are named after him” Mr Beamish said.

Many features around Gidgegannup bear the name of Moondyne Joe, including a hill, spring, tree and brook.

The above article was from a Newspaper (likely to have been the West Australian) written in April 1994 including an interview with long time Gidgegannup resident George Beamish.  The article had been cut out and pasted into a farm diary kept by Mrs Christa Zimmel, whose family owns a property in O’Brien Road.

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