Mandurah Tourist Bureau
The obvious starting point for any visiting Mandurah is the Mandurah Tourist Bureau at 5 Pinjarra Road, literally 50 metres from the old Estuary bridge across Peel Inlet.
Modern Mandurah lacks an extensive historical base. Most of the brochures on the district focus on Cooper's Mill, a number of cottages which date back to the early settlement, the grave of Thomas Peel and the Christ Church with its interesting graveyard.
Halls Cottage in Leighton Road, Halls Head (cross the inlet from the town centre and head north) was built in the 1830s, restored in 1975, and is a very good example of the earliest dwellings in the area.
The National Estate register records that 'This vernacular cottage is built of local limestone with a high hipped roof and two verandahs, front and back. The interior walls are made of rough untrimmed limestone blocks and rubble held together by lime mortar and limewash. The interior features pit-sawn floor boards, and open fireplaces. The buildings is typical of the period. The Historical Society has a useful sheet on the cottage.
The original owner, Henry E. Hall, was the first person to develop a fishing industry in the Mandurah district. Halls Cottage is now a museum of local history.
On the corner of Pinjarra Road and Sholl Street is Christ Church which was consecrated in 1871. The cemetery attached to the church includes the grave of Thomas Peel the founder of Mandurah. Near the church is the anchor from the James Service which was wrecked off the coast on 31 July 1878 with a total loss of life of all passengers and crew. Many of the bodies which were washed up on the beaches in the area are buried in the church cemetery.
One of the delights of the area, although access is extremely difficult, is Cooper's Mill which is located on Culeenup Island and is only accessible by boat.
This was the first flour mill in the Murray region. Joseph Cooper built it by collecting limestone rocks and, every morning, sailing them across to the island. Cooper began work on the mill in 1843 but he was killed in an accident before it was completed in 1850. The mill was used for only a short time. A combination of floods and bushfires effectively brought milling operations to a halt. It was used as a smokehouse for curing fish and then in the 1950s it was restored. The result is a beautifully white washed building. It is possible to visit the mill as part of the MV Peel Princess tours of the Inlet and Town Waters. Contact either (09) 535 4058 or the Tourist Bureau.
Joseph Cooper obviously had a great ability to build structures which stood the test of time. Cooper's Cottage, on Mandurah Terrace, dates from 1845 and was once used as the Travellers Wayside Inn. It is now occupied by a local business.
Beyond its historical site Mandurah has the usual range of tourist attractions. There is Mandurah Farmworld, a 480 ha sheep and cattle property which offers conducted tours. There's Kerryelle's Collector's Museum with bottles, dolls, coins, spoons, seashells and gemstones. The Western Rosella Bird Park has, apart from the birds, mini golf, a manmade waterfall, kangaroos and emus. Marapana Deer and Wildlife Park has a mixture of fallow deer and native animals. There are potteries and boat cruises and even a Castle Fun Park where models of a Bavarian village, complete with a model of Neuschwanstein Castle, are displayed in an area which also has a mini golf course and a skateboard park. Details on all these attractions are available at the Mandurah Tourist Office. As well as all these commercial attractions there are the usual range of beach and coastal activities - swimming, surfing and boating. There are big jewfish about and Mandurah has some of the best fishing near Perth, particularly around the offshire reefs. Mandurah is also known as 'Crab City' as the estuary is full of blue swimmer crabs.Environmental problems, relating to the Peel Inlet, have been cleared up by the Dawesville Cut which is a great fishing spot in itself.
There is a good book Mandurah: Water under the Bridge by Jill Burgess which was published as part of the Bicentennial year. It is a good general coverage of the history of the area with some interesting anecdotes toenliven the story.