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KARRAGULLEN     

Research by Gordon Freegard

With diminishing timber industry iminent and the rapid growth of the fruit growing industry, transport of the produce became critical. On the 15th March 1902 a delegation met at Illawarra Orchard to lobby the Government to extend the railway line to a terminus 3 kilometres past Canning Mills. Following the closing of the Canning Mills sawmill and the Government only taking over the railway line as far as Pickering Brook, access to the Perth fruit and vegetables markets became even more difficult. With virtually no motor vehicles around, transport was dependant upon horse and wagon over very rough tracks to the siding at Pickering Brook. Lobbying increased the pressure on the Government

Finally in 1912 the Government agreed to extend the line and on the 5th August to a new terminus called Karragullen. The name was chosen by Miss Daisy Bates using the aboriginal name for "Red Gully". The first train into Karragullen steamed through a ribbon held by Mabel Parker (Mrs. Arthur Bettenay) and Doris Bettenay, on the 5th August 1912.

DELEGATION  TO DISCUSS EXTENSION OF CANNING MILLS RAILWAY AT ILLAWARRA 15th MARCH 1902
 BABY AT BACK ERIC PRICE, SITTING ON GROUND JOSEPH BETTENAY     #1

 

Prior to the railway being extended to Karragulllen there were very few motor vehicles and all the roads were dirt tracks. Most people relied on horse and cart for transport. The extension of the railway line from Canning Mills, made Karragullen the centre of the district. The train departed at 6.00am, arriving in Perth at 9.00am and then leaving Perth at 5.00pm to reach Karragullen at 8.00pm. This service operated three days a week. The train drivers were very friendly and would drop people off near their houses to save them walking from the station. They also carried meat orders, blowing the whistle to let the housewife know that the parcel of meat had been thrown from the train.

A settlement of woodcutters immediately sprang up in 1912. Many living in tents near and around the railway station however a Mrs. Gittens conducted a Boarding House for some of these folks. These included J. O'Meagher, Nicholls, J. Saunders, J. Sharp and F. Weyman. Timber had to be cut down by hand then sawn into pieces which were loaded onto large wagons and taken to the Karragullen Railway Station. The timber firewood was taken to Midland Junction for use at the brick kilns. When the depression came the demand stopped.

At a meeting of the Canning Hills Fruitgrowers Association, held at "Irymple" on the 31st August 1912, is was decided to write to Sir John Forrest and request a Post Office for the townsite.

KARRAGULLEN STATION   #2

KARRAGULLEN

LINDLEY BROTHERS STORE AT KELMSCOTT c1905    #3

 

On December 1st, 1913 a "Receiving Office" was opened at Karragullen. It is believed the Lindley Brothers, who had a store at Kelmscott, operated a Post Office/Store at Karragullen at about that time, because on the 1st April 1914, George Lindley signed a 99 year lease on a 1/4 acre lot No 27 at Karragullen. George Lindley was also listed as the storekeeper at Pickering Brook, with his sister Florence. However George soon shifted his interests to Karragullen and the Pickering Brook Store was run Fred, George's brother and their two sisters, Florrie and Ruby. The Post Office was classified an "Allowance Office" on August 8th, 1916.

In 1918 the Post Office Directory lists Mr. J. Saunders as Postmaster and teamster. The Saunders family had moved from Canning Mills to Illawarra Road, Karragullen. The house they occupied was built by Mr. George Lindley who had obtained a lease on the property in 1914. The original building was partly destroyed by fire not long after the Saunders moved in and a new home was constructed on the same site. This house that John and May Saunders lived in was about 100 metres west of the Karragullen Store. A room on the verandah of the Saunders residence served as a Post Office which was ran by May Saunders.

KARRAGULLEN TOWNSITE MAP     c1915    #12    

 

ORIGINAL KARRAGULLEN POST OFFICE   #4

 

The offices received allowances for after hour attendance and porterage of mail to and from the train. For example, in December, 1927 Mrs. C. M. Saunders of Karragullen Post Office was paid an allowance of 6 pounds ($12.00) per annum for porterage of the mail between the Post Office and the Railway Station.Mr. Ted Saunders recalls that it was his job to carry the mail bags between the office and the station.

Mrs. Saunders was still the Postmistress through the thirties and forties. In 1941 military allotments were paid at the Post Office and in 1942 air force allotments were also paid. In 1947 the telephone office hours were Monday to Friday 9.00am - 1.00pm and 2.00pm - 8.00pm; Saturday 9.00am - 1.00pm; and Sunday 9.00am - 10.00am. The allowance was 233 pounds ($466.00) per annum. In July, 1949 the service on the Upper Darling Range Railway Line ceased, and henceforth mails were carried by road transport from Kelmscott.

JOHN & MAY SAUNDERS c1934  #5

When May became ill her niece, Gwen Herbert, rode a pushbike from her home in Union Road, in Carmel, to the Karragullen Post office, every day in order to keep it running. Gwen and her family eventually moved to the Saunders house in 1950. In 1951 the Karragullen Post Office had become quite busy with the telephone exchange operating until 9.00pm at night and for limited periods on Sunday and holidays. The hours of attendance were curtailed from July 1st, 1951 to Monday - Friday 9.00am - 6.00pm and Saturday 9.00am - 1.00pm. May Saunders passed away on August 5th, 1951, and Gwen Herbert was appointed Postmistress on August 23rd, 1951. May had operated the Karragullen Post Office for over thirty-five years. Her son, Mr. Ted Saunders  recalls how the Italian community revered her because of all the assistance she gave to them over the years.

Gwen Herbert's mother and Mrs. Saunders were sisters, the former had married into the Mason family of Carmel and had reared a family of nine children on their property in Union Road, Carmel. Mrs. Herbert and her brothers and sisters attended Carmel Schooland her first experience with post office work was helping Mrs. Baker on the Carmel exchange. Mrs. Herbert recalls as youngsters, walking across from Carmel to Karragullen to visit the Saunder's family. She remembers also taking the pony and trap down the hill to visit their Mason relatives in Cannington.

When she took over the Post Office, Mrs. Herbert recollects that the front room where the office was housed, was so dark that a lamp had always to be lit. Mr. Herbert put in a window to give some light, this was the first of a number of changes they were to make to the original building. However, it was not until April, 1968 that they were finally granted freehold title to the land that George Lindley had leased from the Crown so long ago, the Herberts had paid the lease for seventeen years.

 

In October, 1951 the extended hours of operation for the telephone exchange came into force once more. In December of that year the majority of the subscribers requested that the exchange operate from 8.00am - 8.00pm, this meant opening an hour earlier and closing an hour earlier, These hours were agreed to by the Postmistress. In 1958 the Armadale exchange was made automatic and this left Karragullen responsible for full accountancy duties with regards to calls lodged by subscribers on the local exchange. Consequently there was an increase in allowance for these extra duties viz. 630 pounds 5 shillings ($1260.50) per annum. In the early 1960 the Postmistress was asked if she could provide continuous hours of attendance for the exchange. She advised that this was not possible. As a result on May 25th, 1960 the Karragullen manual exchange became automatic - there were some forty subscribers.

The Post Office continued to operate until Mrs. Gwen Herbert tendered her resignation on August 31st, 1973 and the office was permanently closed from that date. There had been a Post Office at Karragullen for seventy years!

C.W.A. ANNIVERSARY 1936. MRS. WILFRED BETTENAY OUTSIDE KARRAGULLEN HALL    #6

 

In mid 1920 Roy F. Gray established a small general grocery store at Karragullen.

It appears that both Ted Saunders and his younger brother, Bill, worked at Roy Gray's Store in the late 1920's.

In 1930 Roy Gray heaped praises on the Chevrolet truck he had purchased some 12 months earlier. He delivered merchandise over rough roads and bush tracks to the outlying timber camps, and much of his time is also occupied in heavy haulage work carting timber and logs over long distances. The truck that does all this transportation is a 30cwt. Chevrolet six. and he reported that he has done more than 12,000 miles since he purchased it. The truck has done some gruelling work, and has been in constant daily use, but he has not had to spend any money on repairs since the purchase was made. He also claimed that his costs of running the Chevrolet six are lighter than those of the Chevrolet four, which he used in connection with his business for about three years prior to changing over to the Chevrolet six.

Around the end of 1933 Roy Gray was granted the transfer of the license of the Crown Hotel in Collie where he remained until many years later. Ernest Albert Smith then managed the store for a number of years.

 

EARLY PHOTO OF THE KARRAGULLEN STORE, OWNERS HOUSE AND GARAGE   #7

In the Daily News on Thursday 26th May 1949, it was reported that Karragullen storekeeper, Roy Frederick Gray and his wife, who live on the premises adjoining the store, were awakened at 4.00am by the loud barking of his dog. Then he heard someone call out "Is anyone home? Can I get some petrol?" Getting a torch, Gray walked towards the front of his home. A man was standing in the shadows of the front verandah and was aiming a rifle at Gray, who was held-up by Warwick Taylor Thomas Hancock (22) and 24 gallons of petrol was stolen. It was alleged that Hancock prodded Gray several times with a .303 rifle, to force him to give him petrol which he needed to get him home but could not pay for. He walked Gray about 200yds along the road and then told him to walk into the bush. "Gray became alarmed and thought I was going to shoot him. I told him it was all right and that I only wanted to tie him so that he could not see the vehicle", Hancock said. It was reported that efforts were made by Hancock to make Gray comfortable after he had tied him up. After Hancock had loaded the petrol on the utility he returned to Gray, according to the statement. "While I was untying him I asked Gray if he was going to do anything. He said, "I do not know". Gray later assured Hancock he would not say anything and that "as man to man we all get into trouble at times." They shook hands and parted ways.

The store operated from about 1920 till 1973.

 

ROY GRAY'S DELIVERY TRUCK, KARRAGULLEN   #8

 

ROY GRAY'S STORE TRUCK BEING DRIVEN TO SMAILE'S MILL WITH YOUNG BILL SAUNDERS AT THE WHEEL c1929   #9

 

Electricity was brought to Karragullen in 1958. This made a considerable difference to the work load on the orchards as electric fruit graders and pumps could be used as well as providing electric light for the packing sheds and houses. Besides this, it also meant life was made easier for the women because of being able to use electrical appliances for household chores.

 

 

LATER PHOTO OF THE KARRAGULLEN STORE, OWNERS HOUSE AND GARAGE
 (Site now Casotti's Cold Store)     #10

 

The Store was managed by the Hughes family and then bought by the Portwine family. The original property, where Cassoti's Cool Store is today, was sold and a new store was built on Canning Road and still remains there today.

A MORE RECENT PHOTO OF THE KARRAGULLEN STORE      #11   

 

References:          Article:      Pickering Brook Heritage Group
                                          Ross Herbert
                                          The West Australian
                                          Over New Bridges
                                          Jenny Lewis

                           Images:    1, 2, 4, 7, 10   Tom Price
                                           5, 9   Ross Herbert
                                           8, 11     Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society
                                           3, 6    City of Armadale Library
                                           12      Battye Library

 

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