The History of Settlement
The earliest known inhabitants of the Peel were Aborigines of the Pindjarup dialect group of the Noongar people. At the time of the first European settlement in the area in 1830, this community of Aborigines was thought to have numbered around 100. They lived in three main groups near the Murray River and along the coastal plain.
Under the program known as the Peel Settlement Scheme, organised by Thomas Peel,the initial European settlement of the Peel began shortly after the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829. Settlers migrated to land along the coast between Armadale and the Murray River.
Poor administration and inadequate supplies saw many of the original settlers perish through malnutrition within the first few months. The remaining settlers dispersed and a number ventured inland towards Pinjarra, where the fertile soils and grassy plains offered better opportunities for cropping and cattle grazing.
In 1846 a lead, silver and zinc mine was established at Yarrabah (near what is now Mundijong townsite). Although the mine closed the following year, due to the shaft being flooded, it re-opened on a number occasions over the next 60 years. The site is generally recognised as Western Australia's first mining operation.
Agriculture and forestry continued to be the dominant economic activity in the Peel during those early years. Whilst prime agricultural inland areas were developed, growth was restricted on the coastal plain areas due to poor drainage. This issue was finally addressed in the 1920s with the construction of a man-made drainage network that increased the amount of arable land available for development.
The Jarrahdale timber mill was commissioned in May 1872 and became the State's largest timber operation. Later that year the Rockingham-Jarrahdale railway line was completed to transport timber to the coast for use around the State and for export overseas. The durability of the timber resulted in jarrah blocks being used for paving the streets of London and Glasgow during the 1890s.
The construction of the Perth-Picton railway, along the base of the Darling Range, in 1893 led to the development of inland settlements such as Mundijong, Waroona and Dwellingup. These towns were to become service centres for the developing timber industry.
Boddington - named after an early settler - was established in 1912 and services an area of broadacre mixed wheat-sheep farming. The following year the settlement of Byford was established as a workers' housing estate, following the establishment of a major brickworks.
In 1930 dairying began to emerge as a major economic activity in the Waroona area, and this was further enhanced in 1932, when Nestles established a factory in the town to process dairy products.
Since the 1970s, resource development has had a major impact on the growth of the Peel region. In particular, the establishment of alumina refineries near Pinjarra and Wagerup, and goldmines at Boddington, have provided a considerable boost to the local population and economy. The City of Mandurah, whilst benefiting indirectly from these mining operations, continues to enjoy tremendous growth, based primarily on tourism, commerce and retail activities.
Our Cultural Heritage
The Peel boasts myriad accomplished artists. Visual artists, potters, stone and wood sculptors, doll and toy makers, painters and printmakers and an endless array of cottage crafts all contribute to the rich fabric of the region.
The annual Mandurah Arts Festival is a prominent cultural event that includes contributions from many local artisans.
The Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, including an art gallery and theatre, is a cultural feature of the Peel. The Art Gallery showcases the works of unique local and state-wide artists and craftspeople.
The Reading 5 cinema complex offers the latest in movie viewing.
The Mandurah Community Museum and the Peel Discovery Centre offer a look at the past and present history of the Peel and interpretive centres and historical exhibitions are scattered throughout the region.
Music is featured throughout the region and year round festivals cater for all tastes. From the Jazz Festival and Music under the Stars to a Rhythm and Blues Festival in a bushland setting, the region comes alive with music.