The town of Manjimup is defined by its timber industry, so what better place to start your visit to the area than the Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park?
Manjimup was first settled in 1856 by timber cutter Thomas Muir. In the years that followed, the milling of jarrah, karri, marri and blackbutt quickly became the mainstay of the town’s economy. Today, Manjimup has grown to become the largest commercial centre servicing communities in the Warren and Blackwood Valley, and its principal industries now include fruit and vegetable growing, dairy, wool, grain and, of course, timber.
With this in mind, no visit to Manjimup should be without a visit to the Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park, located in the centre of town on the corner of Edwards and Rose Streets. This outstanding museum covers 10ha of parkland gardens, recreational areas and exhibits explaining Manjimup’s timber history and colonisation.
A good starting point in the park is the State Timber Museum. Located just to the right of the park entry, visitors to the museum can follow a series of storyboards that lead them through the development and growth of the timber industry and highlight some fascinating facts and figures. There’s also an impressive collection of historic timber tools on display.
From the museum follow the path towards the back of the park where you will discover the Historical Hamlet – six restored buildings that were operational within the town in the early 1900s. Take a step back in time inside Manjimup’s original Police Station, the Forestry Office and School, the Doctor's Surgery, a Vintage Truck Shed and a typical Settler's Cottage. From the foyer of each building visitors can view the rooms through glass partitioning and all are maintained to appear as if they’re still lived in today.
To see a true traditional craftsman at work, stop in and visit George, the area’s resident blacksmith, who has a studio at the front of the park. Next door is the Woodturners Shed, which doubles as the headquarters for the Manjimup Woodturners Association. Here you can catch wood turners in action on most Fridays and the second and fourth Thursday of every month, and purchase one-of-a-kind handmade wood pieces. The wood turners are often working at other times, so if you hear activity in the shed give them a knock and they’ll happily show you around.
For all the old train-spotters out there, we’re told that the restored 1907 Robey steam engine in the Age of Steam Museum is a must see. The museum is stacked with information on steam trains and the role they played in Manjimup’s timber industry, and on the walls are numerous historic photographs from the old Tone River Mill. Outside the museum is ‘Snorting Lizzie’, a unique 12 tonne steam engine. She never operated as a traction engine but in 1921 was converted to wheels for the new train line that ran through Manjimup.
In the centre of the park you’ll find Federation Island and the popular barbeque and picnic area. The island is home to native gardens, a shaded gazebo area, and the unusual One Log Bridge that stretches across the pretty canal. For those looking to have a leisurely picnic lunch, the barbeque facilities and gazebo are located between the canals and the open grass, where a children’s playground is perfect for keeping the tiny tots entertained.
If your schedule is too tight to fit in a barbecue, Gallery Cafe, located near the entrance of the park, is open daily from 9am to 5pm for breakfast, lunch and snacks. The cafe lights its potbelly stove during winter if you’re looking to escape the chill or, alternatively, you can sit outside on the verandah, which is protected from the weather. Attached to the cafe is a small gallery where you can purchase souvenirs and crafts.
The Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park is being upgraded, so new and exciting exhibits are continually being added. The Shire of Manjimup recently released an informative and easy to read map with brief descriptions of the many attractions, ideal to help guide you around the park. Pop into the Visitor Centre and pick one up.
Other park attractions:
• The sawpit – this area demonstrates the earliest method of producing long lengths of sawn timber.
• Steam Loco and Williamette Steam Hauler – the hauler could pull up to 25 tonnes of timber logs.
• Fire Lookout and Hut – a genuine towerman’s hut where signs of bush fires were monitored and reported back to the Forest Department via bush telegraph.
• Commonwealth Gardens – a grove of trees representing the different countries of the Commonwealth.
• World War II Memorial Bridge – the wooden bridge that leads to the fire lookout was built in memory of locals from the region who fought in WWII.
• Eight Wheeler Trailer and Whim – both trailers were drawn by either horse or bullock teams and were originally used to transport logs from the bush to the landings.
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