Online records capture Katanning’s lost history

Jessica CuthbertGreat Southern Herald
Historic images of the Katanning flour mill.
Camera IconHistoric images of the Katanning flour mill. Credit: Picture: State Library of WA, from State Library of WA

Katanning’s Arthur Todd is passionate about preserving the history of his town.

To help do so he set up a website, Lost Katanning, an extensive look into the town’s history.

Mr Todd said Katanning’s history had always fascinated him ever since arriving in the town in 1969 with the railways.

“Naturally, our Noongar community were here long before European settlement but it’s not so easy to find their history,” he said.

“The town has a rich and diverse history starting with Elijah Quartermaine who, in having found abundant water and feed, would travel from Beverley to the area driving sheep and then return in time for shearing.”

Kobeelya Conference Centre
Camera IconKobeelya Conference Centre

In 1852 Quartermaine was the first European to secure land in the region and built his first permanent home, “Yougenup”, between 1860-62.

In 1886, the construction of the Great Southern Railway commenced at both Albany and Beverley with both ends meeting at what is now Katanning.

Fredrick Piesse is considered the founding father of Katanning and built the flour mill and several stores including the Katanning Hotel, King George Hostel, Kobeelya (the family home), an award winning winery among others.

Katanning Founder, Frederick Piesse
Camera IconKatanning Founder, Frederick Piesse

He later became a member of the first West Australian Parliament in the John Forrest government. He was minister for lands, minister for railways, and deputy premier.

Mr Todd said Katanning progressed

He said Katanning had the first electric street lights in WA, the first public lending library and was the first home with hot and cold running water in WA at the Kobeelya.

“Unfortunately, much of our old records and photographs are slowly disintegrating and will be lost,” he said.

“It is important to permanently record our history for future generations to understand where we came from and because of my interest in local history I have built the Lost Katanning website and Facebook page.”

Katanning Town Hall
Camera IconKatanning Town Hall

He said people were invited to provide photos and information to help build a record of the town’s history by emailing arthurtodd@lostkatanning. com.

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