Coordinates: 34°21′50″S 117°04′37″E
Mean maximum temperature: 9.4 °C (49°F)
Mean minimum temperature: 21.1 °C (70°F)
Annual rainfall: 602mm (23.7 inches)
Frankland is a small, quiet town in the Shire of Cranbrook, approximately 360km south of Perth and 130km north-west of Albany. The town’s name is derived from its close proximity (6km east) to the Frankland River and at the 2006 census had a population of 380. Frankland River is also one of the five subregions of the Great Southern, situated in the north-western corner, making it the most northerly, inland subregion.
Frankland River was named by Royal Navy surgeon Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson in 1829, after the Surveyor General of Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) George Frankland. Wilson was exploring the hinterland north of Albany while his ship, the Governor Phillip, was being repaired and paved the way for future settlement by proving the area’s soil and reliable weather conditions were suitable for farming. The land was cleared of its wanddo, jarrah and marri woodlands to make way for grazing pastures and arable cropping land.
It was John Hassell, a retired sea captain, who was responsible for eventually opening up extensive routes in the State’s south during the 1850s. He owned a large flock of sheep (more than 30,000) which initially grazed on the land close to his farm in Kendenup. However, the huge flock needed constant supervision from Hassell’s many shepherds who drove them into Frankland. The area had a number of small creeks surrounded by natural pasture providing good feed for the animals in the autumn, winter and spring. Also, the permanent waters of the Frankland and Gordon Rivers and the Nunijup and Poorarecup lakes made the area an attractive proposition during summer. Gradually families looking for land followed the shepherds into the area. In 1889 Frankland was one of the many districts to benefit from the completion of the Great Southern Railway. Although the line actually went through Cranbrook (47km away) Frankland timber workers were kept busy supplying railway sleepers. Settlement of the district expanded when many of these men took up land in the area.
By 1909, the State Government had set aside land for a townsite and built a hall and a school, however no further developments took place for many years and the town was not gazetted until 1947. The town and region were known as Frankland River until 1935, when the local postmaster shortened the name, stating that the “River” appendage was too long to fit on signs and documents. Frankland expanded further in the late 1940s with an influx of war veterans. Since the 1970s Frankland River has been associated with premium wine production, with the olive industry now also making its mark on the area. Its climate is Mediterranean in terms of dominant winter-spring rainfall, but with greater continentality, which favours Riesling, Shiraz and cabernet sauvignon grapes. One of its unique features is the sea breeze which cools the late afternoons by around 2C.
For further information, contact the Shire of Cranbrook on (08) 9826 1008 or http://www.cranbrook.wa.gov.au.