Water runs through
Wooroloo is the local spelling of a word with Aboriginal origins. In 1836 James Drummond noted Aboriginal people referred to certain pools in a brook that joined the Avon River, as “Worrilow’. Not far from these pools, plans for a townsite to be called Worriloo were drawn up in 1841. The townsite never developed. Further upstream a well to supply teamsters was known as Warriloo Well. Lands Department plans were amended to Wooroloo in 1903.
. . Brothers in farms
Two Byfield brothers settled on the upper reaches of Wooroloo Brook to farm, a third set up a steam sawmill once the Eastern Railway made the area more accessible. Byfield’s Mill was managed by yet another Byfield brother. It became an official stop on the Eastern line, attracting more orchardists and farmers. The name changed to Wooroloo in 1897 when the mill stop was raised to booking station status.
. . Camp centre
Extensive grazing leases covered much of the area before 1900 but by the early 1900s the focus turned to timber. Wooroloo was the centre for sleeper hewers and charcoal burners camping in the surrounding bush. A second sawmill opened nearby at Werribee and a third to the north of the settlement in 1905. And, during WW1, local Karri helped solve the shortage of axe handles, usually imported from America. Using a steam engine from one of the closed sawmills, the Buffalo Handle Factory produced handles until the 1940s.
. . State Sanatorium
Beechina Hill was chosen as the site for a sanatorium to treat ‘consumptives’, as they were called, partly due to the supposedly beneficial effects of the fresh air at that elevation. Patients were suffering from what we now call Tuberculosis or TB and, since the first effective drug against it was only discovered in 1944, many lie buried in the adjacent cemetery. Opened in 1915, the ‘Sanny’ became a general hospital when the Perth Chest Hospital opened in 1958 but in 1970 it was converted to a minimum security prison.
Mosaic ref: 2003.216 and 2003.203
Photos below: Wooroloo Sanatorium Dining Rooms, 1911 and (bottom photo) Log chopping display, held at Wooroloo following the planting of memorial trees, September 1919.
Background Photo: Wooroloo Train Station. Mosaic ref: 2005.257
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