Greenough is a historical town located 400 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia and 24 kilometres south of Geraldton on the Brand Highway. The historic buildings are controlled by the National Trust of Australia. Another feature popular with tourists are the trees that are bent 90 degrees due to the coastal winds.
The mouth of the Greenough River is about 10 km to the north of the town.
On 16 February 1999, a rare annular solar eclipse of magnitude 0.9906 was visible from the area.
The historical town of Greenough is located 400km north of Perth, Western Australia on a coastal plain of rich fertile pastures. The area was first explored by George Grey in 1839 who was looking for more agricultural pastoral lands for expansion of the colony. Grey named the river, Greenough, after his sponsor, Sir George Bellas Greenough (President of the Royal Geographical Society). The town was later to be named after the river.
In 1851 Augustus Gregory surveyed 30,000 acres (120 km²) of land in the region which became known as the Greenough Flats. This was subdivided into 20- and 30-acre (120,000 m2) lots with the view to encouraging English settlers who would be more used to the relatively small (by Australian standards) farm sizes.
Within a few years it had developed into a highly successful wheat growing area and a population of over 1,000 from which a successful town developed.
A series of disasters starting with a major cyclone in 1872 and major flooding in 1888 as well as the discovery of gold in the goldfields caused the gradual decline and abandonment of the settlement so that by 1900 most of the settlers had left the area with many of the small farmlets converted to grazing. The town fell into disrepair until a tourism-based project in the 1980s helped refurbish many of the buildings.
In 1993, a woman and her three young children were brutally murdered in this small town. This tragic event featured on the Australian television show Crime Investigation Australia and is now known as the Greenough Family Massacre.
Today the heart of Greenough – a collection of eleven buildings including the gaol, courthouse, police station, churches, and school – is administered by the National Trust and open from 9.00 am – 4.45 pm daily (It can be opened upon application by phoning (08) 9926 1084). There are guided tours of the village which depart from the National Trust building almost constantly throughout the day.
Beyond this National Trust zone lie the ruins of the Wesley Church (the area was settled by large numbers of Wesleyans), the gracious old Grays Store, Clinch’s Mill and the Greenough Hotel. As well, a short distance up the road is the companion settlement of Walkaway.
The appeal of Greenough lies in its sense of solidity and certainty. Realistically it is now a ghost town – only the National Trust guides are here to haunt the visitor. Yet in the churches, court house and police station – all of which are built in stone – there is a suggestion that this was a town built to last for eternity.
Things to see:
Greenough/Walkaway Heritage Trail
The Greenough/Walkaway Heritage Trail identifies some 36 buildings on interest in the area including the fascinating Pioneer Cemetery, Clinch’s Mill (built in 1858 it continued to operate until 1922 and at its peak became an important supplier of flour to the Murchison gold fields), the elegant ruins of the Wesley Church, Gray’s Store (constructed with convict labour in 1861) the Hampton Arms Inn (the first hotel in the area it was built in 1863 by Robert Pearson and is now an excellent restaurant – it has a beautifully decorated ballroom) and the buildings of the National Trust controlled Greenough Hamlet.
The Hampton Arms Inn
On 5 September 2001 Dr. Judy Edwards, the Minister for Environment and Heritage, issued the following press release:
“The Hampton Arms, the first hotel to be built in the Mid-West’s Greenough district, has been listed on the State’s Register of Heritage Places. The hotel, which still functions as a licensed inn and restaurant, has been lovingly restored for the past 16 years by owners Judy and Brian Turnock.
Environment and Heritage Minister Dr Judy Edwards said the Hampton Arms was one of only a handful of colonial hotels to survive to the present day.
“What makes it even more rare is that it is still operating as a hotel,” Dr Edwards said. “It is also important as a surviving remnant of the town of Hampton, which was established in 1862, not long after the Greenough Front Flats.
As the district’s first hotel, it was a focal point for Greenough settlers for social gatherings, balls and political meetings. It also provided shelter during times of flooding when settlers on the western side of the Greenough River were cut off from settlement on the eastern side.”
Dr Edwards said the two-storey stone and iron building, which had single-storey wings each side of the main section and a stone stable block, was an excellent example of the Victorian Regency style.
“Unlike other surviving buildings which once functioned as inns, the Hampton Arms was a purpose-built hotel,” she said. “Francis Pearson, who designed the first smelter in Western Australia and was a key figure in the early settlement of the Mid-West, built the hotel in 1863 with his two sons.”
The Hampton Arms was officially opened on May 1,1863 and named after John Hampton, Governor of the day.