Focusing on 10 historical sites with ample opportunity for picnicking and walking, the Mount Barker Heritage Trail is perfect for those looking for a pleasant half day outing in the Great Southern area.
Mount Barker, on the doorstep of the beautiful Porongurup Ranges, is a small and friendly town surrounded by rolling hills and picturesque wineries. The history of the area is rich, and those with an interest in exploring the development of the district can do so by following the 30km Mount Barker Heritage Trail drive.
Before you start, pick up a copy of the Mount Barker Heritage Trail brochure available from the Heritage Council of WA’s website or at the Mount Barker Tourist Bureau. It provides a well-written and informative guide to the town’s historic attractions.
The trail commences at Plantagenet Wines on Albany Highway, the first winery in the area to commercially produce wines. Here, you’ll also discover the area’s only surviving apple shed. Plantagenet Wines produces a large range of fine wines, which are available for tasting at the cellar door.
The next stop on the trail is the All Saints Church, Mount Barker’s first stone church, built in 1900, and the Old Post Office located on the corner of Albany Highway and Ormond Road. Built between 1892-93 at a cost of just £933, the post office is presently occupied by the Plantagenet Arts Council and is a thriving arts and crafts centre.
Next, continue to the lookout off Barker Road. Explorer Dr TB Wilson and his party climbed this hill in 1829 to determine the route of the next stage of their exploration. Situated 404m above sea level, the views here are magnificent and are best appreciated from the observation stand or the Memorial Stone in the parking lot. On clear days you can look across the hinterland and see the Stirling and Porongurup Ranges and Wilson Inlet at Denmark. The hill is also the site of a telecommunications tower, one of the tallest free-standing structures in the Southern Hemisphere.
Heading down St Werburgh’s Road, you’ll pass the remnants of the Hay River Bridge and eventually reach St Werburgh’s Chapel. Built in 1872 on the Egerton-Warburton property to serve the pioneers of the district, it is one of the few church buildings in WA built by a landowner on his estate.
Continuing along the trail you’ll encounter the crumbling remains of the Old Bush Inn on Marmion Street. Established in 1860 by William Cooper, it was for many years the only building in Mount Barker.
The Old Railway Station, constructed in 1923, is one of the town’s most important heritage buildings. This lovingly-restored complex, which fell into disrepair after the closure of the rail services, is beautifully presented and houses the Mount Barker Tourist Bureau. Visitors are invited to view the wonderful selection of historic images housed in the old station’s original kitchen.
The trail ends at the Old Police Station Museum complex on Albany Highway. Built by convicts, the police station didn’t have a lock up – prisoners were tied to the leg of the kitchen table or to a log outside the building. Today, the station is a unique museum with rooms that carefully portray the colonial period between 1865 and 1910. The complex contains interesting artefacts, remnants from many of the town’s old buildings and several outdoor exhibits. The museum is also home to the Plantagenet Historical Society and is a key attraction in the town. Guided tours are available, entry is $5 and children under 12 are free.
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