A blip on the radar, a dot on the landscape, blink and you'll miss it. Travellers could well be forgiven for driving right past Pindar in Western Australia's mid-west region. Passers-by may notice the grain silos at the edge of the road, perhaps the small town indicator or maybe the tourist information board but it's just as likely they would miss the small collection of old buildings set back from the road.
Pindar is just east of the town of Mullewa on the northern edge of W.A.'s wheatbelt. Established as a railway siding the townsite was officially gazetted in 1901. In those days wool and gold were the mainstay of the Australian economy and old photographs show huge teams of camels pulling wagons loaded to the gunnels with bales of wool. In fact it may be wool that brings you to Pindar. The tiny outpost is the start of the 'Wool Wagon Pathway', a tourist route that winds through the Murchison and Gascoyne before finishing at Exmouth and the stunning Ningaloo reef. The name of the town was taken from an aboriginal waterhole - Pindar Well.
What does impress at Pindar is the wonderful old hotel which, sadly, no longer quenches the thirst of weary travellers but now serves as a bed and breakfast. The building has been added to the state heritage list and in the 'Statement of Signifigance' is described as follows -
Pindar Hotel (fmr), a two-storey masonry hotel constructed in the Federation Filigree style, has cultural heritage significance for the following reasons:
- the place is a representative example of a vernacular 'corner pub' built in the Federation period, adapted to the needs of the people who owned and operated it,
- the place has landmark quality due to its prominence on the streetscape and its relationship with the remaining buildings of the small townsite. It is the most visible building remaining to illustrate the early development of Pindar
- the place has a close association with the hoteliers that lived in, operated and maintained it. It was an important social/gathering place and rest point for farmers/workers and visitors passing through the area. The place caters for tourists on a seasonal basis, and thus continues the ongoing historic accommodation theme
- the hotel contributes to the community's sense of place as a centre where local people once socialised and as a tourist destination
As well as being an alternative route to the north of W.A. the region around Pindar attracts thousands of wildflower enthusiasts who come to see the lavish carpet of native flowering species.
An interesting article from 1915 in the 'Northern Times', a Carnarvon newspaper, describes a journey by two commercial travellers from Pindar to the port of Carnarvon. The trip was undertaken in an 'Overland Automobile' soon to be bought out by Willys (of Jeep fame) and the forerunner to the modern four wheel drive. The Pindar region is marginal farming country receiving just over 300mm of rain per year. However it is sometimes deluged by rain from the northern cyclones. 1915 must have been just such a year as their reports indicate extremely boggy conditions in a region that is verging on semi-arid.
"…From there they started on a fifty mile jaunt, which took exactly four days to complete. It was nothing but continous swamp and bog and for ten miles the track was under water. They had to take to the bush and discard the main track as it was found impossible to proceed…From Mileura to Miily Milly the first decent run was made, and there it was found that the Murchison River was again too deep to cross, but owing to the kindness of Mr. Monger who supplied them with three horses, the car was eventually drawn over… Between the top end of the Pindar and the Murchison river, they struck teams bogged everywhere, the teamsters turn ing their horses and donkeys out, 'as it was impossible to make any headway. One team had started for Pindar before Christmas, and late in January was still on its way, having then been five weeks on the road. At another place they struck a team that took 26 camels and 11 horses to pull through five miles of bog, which was up to the axle bed, but had to be left as it was impossible to proceed."
One of the gentleman (who was a salesman for Harris Scarfe) had made the same trip the previous year in four weeks. In 1915 with the country flooded it took them seven weeks. Today the trip is 594km by sealed highway and takes six hours.
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