Katanning Home Page:
The Heart of the Great Southern.
Katanning has a rich history with its aboriginal heritage going back thousands of years. The first white settlers moved here in the mid to late 1880’s and, with the coming of the Great Southern Railway, established the town you see today.
Katanning is situated in the heart of Western Australia’s
Great Southern Agricultural Region.
It is a town and shire located 277 km south east of Perth,
Western Australia on Route 120.
The meaning of Katanning is unknown but it is thought to be a local aboriginal word that is either ‘Kart-annin’ that literally means “meeting place of the heads of tribes”, or ‘Kartanup’ that means “clear pool of sweet water”. Others suggest that the place is named after a local aboriginal woman.
The first Europeans to explore the Katanning area were Governor James Stirling and Surveyor General John Septimus Roe who travelled through the area in 1835 en route from Perth to Albany.
In about 1870, sandalwood cutters moved into the area but they did not settle. It was not until the arrival of the Great Southern Railway from Perth to Albany in 1889 that the township came into existence.
The townsite was initially developed by the same company that built the railway, the Western Australian Land Company. The state government purchased the railway and the townsite in 1896 and later formally gazetted the town in 1898.
Katanning remains an important centre on the Great Southern Railway to Albany.
A roller flour mill, later known as the Premier Flour Mill, was constructed close to the centre of the town in 1891 by brothers, Frederick Henry Piesse and Charles Austin Piesse; this in turn encouraged the local farmers to grow wheat which was at the heart of the town’s early economic success. The mill will be developed by Dome Coffee as a restaurant, museum, and boutique accommodation.
A statue of Frederick Henry Piesse (by sculptor Pietro Porcelli) was erected in 1916 and stands beside the railway line in Austral Terrace. The Piesse family constructed a regal mansion which was named “Kobeelya” and, after being used for many years as a girls’ boarding school, is now a conference centre managed by the local Baptist community.
Katanning features a unique playground of over-sized structures named the “All Ages Playground”. The town has many other attractions, including a state of the art recreation, leisure and function centre and public library and art gallery complex.
Katanning has a relatively large Muslim population, of about 350 people, and consequently has a mosque. The vast majority of local Muslims originated in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and travelled to Katanning to work in the local abattoir, which was established in the late 1970s.
Other religious buildings include churches from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Uniting, and Wesleyan denominations, along with a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.
The town also has a castle-like structure which was built as a water tower for a winery. The town’s entrance has been developed around a new round-a-bout to welcome tourists, travellers and people on business.
Thanks to Frederick Piesse’s business acumen, the town now boasts a large number of federation style homes and distinctive buildings. The main street, Austral Terrace, has a number of old two-story buildings plus the old roller flour mill. The mill is currently being restored and turned into a boutique hotel by the Dome Coffee Group.
Katanning also boast many firsts; the first public lending library in the state, the first electric street lighting in the state, the first ‘purpose built’ public swimming pool in country WA, the first house in country WA with hot and cold running water, the first motor car in country WA, the first roller flour mill in Western Australia.
The town today is one of the most culturally diverse in Western Australia yet it is one of harmony amongst all races, cultures, and religions.
It is well worth planning to stay at least a couple of days to experience the history of of the town and its pioneering families. You can learn about the town’s history by visiting “Lost Katanning”
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