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Central Greenough Historic Settlement

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by Weekends with Jack (subscribe)
Hi I'm Jack, weekends are too short, so I love to make the most of the time we have. I also love cooking and occasionally write a blog of the food I love to cook, if you'd like to join me for dinner, click here
Published June 8th 2012
Central Greenough Historic Settlement
Old School

Central Greenough Historical Village, located 380 km north of Perth, was settled in the 1850s and was a thriving centre for the surrounding pastoral district. Many of the homes built later in the century are still standing today, as rock solid as the day they were built.

The first time I saw the village from the nearby Brand Highway was 25 years ago, whilst I was on a work trip to the region driving a white liner truck painting the white lines along the straight stretches in the area. It was slow going so you got to have a good look at the buildings from afar.

I found them intriguing, but being we were there to work, I never got to and have a close up look. Even though I have lost count how many times I have driven past them over the years since, I have never had an opportunity to stop for that closer look, so when I was invited to lunch at the café in the village visitor centre, I jumped at the chance.

Entrance to the park is through the café, and I might mention that this is a great place to eat, the food was wonderful and service was second to none; the manager and his staff were so attentive to all out needs.

The café building is the first of the historical buildings, formerly the old Greenough store, built in 1860 and used as a store up until 1960, after which was used as a residence. When the National Trust took possession of the building in 1975 it was in total disrepair and roofless, the renovation is outstanding.
Central Greenough School

From the café heading north, the buildings are situated east and west of the original highway, the first being the old school building, built in 1865 east of the road, it also served as a community building and an Anglican place of worship. It is basically one large room and is furnished with an array of school desks typical of those used through the period.
There are several signs around the room with historical facts painted in white on black board, they are very effective and entice the visitor to read and learn from them.
Police Station and Gaol

A little further up the hill is the biggest of the buildings, the old police station and gaol, it also housed the district court. All the rooms in this building are sparsely decorated, as they were during the period they were utilised, which makes for a very interesting journey as you wander through the rooms, some areas are roped off, though in a way that you can pull the ropes back to take photographs if you wish. I found the cooking facilities and implements to be most interesting. I could just imagine the wood fire burning under the big pots warming an otherwise cold room.
Doing time in Central Greenough

St Catherine's Church is built well back off the road is one of the younger buildings built in 1913 to replace the original church, which was brought out complete and shipped from England 20 years earlier; this is the only building that we did not get to go into as it was locked. Just near the church a little closer to the road is a smaller building of one room which served as the Road Board office for 35 years, the room was open but unfurnished.

St Catherine's Hall a little further north was set up with some information boards, an old piano brought to life by a recorded tune and a few rows of old fashioned cloth movie chairs. In front was a stage area, the back wall of which had a painted movie screen.

From here we crossed to the western side of the old road, where some of the village homes were nested, along with the Catholic Church and some old convent buildings.
Hackett's Cottage and the Presbytery from Gaol House

The first home is known as Ned and Harriet Hackett's cottage, directly opposite the police station, Old Ned built the home after a flood in 1888. Apparently Ned was a versatile chap, not only running the store but was also the blacksmith, cobbler, carpenter and undertaker. Harriet sold the place some 23 years after old Ned had pegged out!

Next door to Ned and Harriet was the Presbytery, built in 1900 by a Mr Bennett and furnished by the church, it housed the local catholic priest for thirty years. Monsignor John Hawes being the last priest to occupy the residence, was also an architect. He built St Francis Xavier Cathedral and Nazareth House in Geraldton, and the beautiful The Church of Our Lady of Mt Carmel and The Priest house in Mullewa, the most fascinating church I have ever seen and one I love to visit. The Monsignor's residence in Central Greenough, though quaint, was quite plain in comparison.
St Peter's and Goodwin's Cottage

The Catholic Church built the next home in 1890 for a retired policeman and his wife, Ned Goodwin. They lived there for 22 years until Ned's death, when the building reverted back to the church, the Presentation Sisters used it for a school until 1958.

Next door is St Peter's Church, built in 1908 and continues to be used as place of worship, it is quite beautiful inside. There is an old bell tower to the side of the church with a rope hanging down just within reach, but for the want of trying I could not get it to strike!

The last building was a convent constructed in 1898 to house a group of Dominican Sisters from New Zealand, who ran a mixed day school until the nuns moved off to Dongara, it was then turned into a boarding school for boys.

Mobs of Lama's graze on the pastures in and around the buildings, which gives the place the feel of being in a Latin country, especially given many of the stone buildings resemble those seen in old cowboy movies. All that was missing were a few tumble weeds, a smoking gun and a tune of slow drawl western song of the trail.
Home, home on the range, were the dear and antelope roam

Entrance into the National Heritage Park is $6.00 adults, $3.00 children, and $12.00 family 2 2 and it is open seven days per week, from 9:00AM – 5:00PM, closed Christmas Day.

Visitors are provided with a map of the area which also serves as a guide to each of the buildings, something I am most grateful for in the writing of this article.

If you are heading north to Geraldton or beyond, plan a break in your journey and stretch the legs as you wander through this wonderful historic site, you will be so pleased you did.
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Why? Interesting Historical Village
When: Seven Days a Week
Where: Central Greenough Western Australia
Cost: $3 - $6
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