Jerramungup

Jerramungup WA

Coordinates: 33°56′31″S 118°54′58″E

Jerramungup is located on the Southern Highway, 454km south east of Perth and 175km north east of Albany with a population of approximately 370. It is a small town servicing a diverse agricultural area which supports the production of wool, cattle and grains. The town's name derives from a Noongar word meaning ‘place of tall yate trees which grow through the mist’ – yate is a variety of eucalyptus which reaches a height of 20m.

The name was first recorded by Surveyor General John Septimus Roe in 1847 when passing through on his way to Esperance. In his journal he recorded 'we were gladdened by the view of a large extent of good grassy country to the north east, lightly timbered and at this time well watered by a river and its numerous branches. It is known to the natives as Jeer-a-mung-up'. Roe later named the same river near its mouth the Gairdner, not realising it was the same stretch of water.

In the same year Captain John Hassell expanded his Kendenup property, creating a sheep station of 20,000 acres with a homestead near the present site of Jerramungup which he called 'Jerramongup'. Throughout the rest of the 19th and most of the 20th century, sheep were grazed by shepherds on land which had a low average annual rainfall of 392mm. The shepherds were in charge of flocks ranging from 900 - 1,100 and by 1925, 18,000 sheep were being run on the Jerramongup property.

The township of Jerramungup came into existence in 1953 when the Hassell family sold Jarramongup to the War Service Land Settlement Board for the repatriation of WWII veterans. A school opened in a shearing shed in 1956 and the town site was formally declared in 1957. By 1958, 250,000 acres had been cleared and divided into 141 farms. The town hall, known locally as the Root Pickers Hall because its construction was paid for by volunteers picking mallee roots, was built in the same year. The town has a number of street names with WWII connections including Coral Sea Road, Kokoda Road, Lancaster Road, Monash Avenue, Spitfire Avenue, Java Sea Road and Tobruk Road.

The old Hassell homestead and a later one built around 1900 can be seen by driving 5km east of the town on the Broomehill Road and turning off onto the Cameron Woolshed Road. They are on private property about 1km from the turnoff. Jerramungup achieved a brief moment of notoriety in 1969 when its council levied ratepayers to help pay for the cost of building the inter-denominational All Saints Church, which the council argued was a community service. Seven ratepayers were so angry they appealed to Queen Elizabeth and the United Nations. However, they lost and their levies were paid anonymously.

Another little known fact is that 200 tonnes of Verde Laguna granite quarried from Jerramungup was used for the Australian War Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London. It was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II, Tony Blair and John Howard on Armistice Day 2003 and is a monument to the 102,000 Australian servicemen and women who died during both world wars. It lists the 47 battles in which Australia was involved and the 23,844 towns from where the military personel came from.

For further information, contact the Shire of Jerramungup on (08) 9835 1022 or http://www.jerramungup.wa.gov.au

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