SHIRE OF IRWIN - A BRILLIANT BLEND
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ANZAC March - c1950
At Port Denison Beach
Irwin Road Board
Denison House c1940
Irwin Main Street
Dongara Railway Station - c1930
Dongara School - c1912
Irwin Road Board
Ken Bass waiting for the train - c1934
Irwin Railway Gang
Russ Cottage opening after restoration - 1971
Port Denison Foreshore
Pearse House - c1970
Irwin Road Board Office - c1980
Port Store - c1945
Road Board Office Opening 1910
Russ Cottage - c1914
School - c1939
School Excursion 1910
School - Moreton Terrace c1906
Community members at the Monastery - c1947
Tokos - c1925
Wheat at the flour mill - c1930
A Brief History
A Brief History of the Shire of Irwin
Nestled on Arunine Bay are the historical twin towns of Port Denison and Dongara, the coastal contact for the Shire of Irwin. In 1839, an expedition led by George Grey left the Swan River Colony by ship, bound for the area north of the Murchison River. His boats and supplies destroyed in a cyclone, his only alternative was a gruelling 700km trek south to the colony. Captain Grey and his party thus became the first Europeans to traverse the Irwin District and note the extent of the lush pastoral country in the Irwin Basin.
The Aboriginal people of this region (the Wattandee) saw the first permanent European settlement of Irwin in 1850. In 1852, a townsite was surveyed and named "Dhungarra" - a name given to the area by local tribal natives to indicate a "meeting place of seals". From this time on, the area gradually became settled. This progress was understandably slow because of the distances involved and the slowness of available means of transport. Unknown dangers played their part in hindering settlement as in the case of the sailing ship "Leander". In 1853, she struck the reef which now bears her name. Commander, Captain Johnson, managed to run in and beach her on the then uninhabited coast. The Captain and crew managed to reach Mr Burges' property on the Upper Irwin. By 1866, the small settlement was beginning to flex its community muscle and a jetty was built at Port Irwin; at the same time, an Inn was built, which is still in use today.
Finally, in 1871, the Irwin Road Board was formed. It stretched to the South Australian border and covered 89,000 square miles. In its early years, meetings were held in the Courthouse which was built around the same time, along with a School and Police Station. This progress continued as surely as the gradual growth of the majestic trees lining the main street.
For more information please contact the Irwin District Historical Society on 9927 1323 or visit them at 5 Waldeck Street, Dongara.