St Peters bell was cast in Dublin in 1879 at Murphy’s Foundry. It didn’t always sit outside, it used to be in St Peters Chapel that first stood outside Clinch’s Mill and was damaged during a flooding. The bell was used to announce the Angelus which were the prayers which were said three times a day to commemorate the incarnation.
Built in 1908 this stone church is still conducting services today. The church was built to replace an earlier one which was damaged by flood in 1888. Some of the stones of the original church were used in the construction of this present church.
This was Ned Hackett and his wife Harriet’s cottage. It was built following the disastrous floods of 1888. Ned ran the original general store as well as provided services such as a carpenter and cobbler, blacksmith and undertaker.
The furniture and other items in the priests house was all furnished by the Catholic Church. After Monsignor Hawes moved out, the house was used as a boarding house and some of the older students at the Convent School stayed there.
The Catholic Presbytery was built out of limestone in 1900 and over 30 years had a number of priests living there. One of the best known was Monsignor Hawes who was a well known architect and was responsible for building a number of beautiful churches. He was actually the last priest to live in the Presbytery.
In 1901 they moved to Dongara and the Presentation Sisters took over the building. They turned the school room into a dormitory and ran a boarding school for boys. There were extensions built on the west side which are no longer there. When the boarding school closed down, the old convent was then leased as a residence to the O’Brien family. They lived in the building until it was purchased by the National Trust.
The L-shaped convent was originally the home to some New Zealand Dominican Sisters and was built in 1898. They used to run a day school (known as St Joseph’s School) in the largest room of the convent for both boys and girls.
Behind the courthouse are the old stone stables which open out in the courtyard. This is where the police horses were housed. Despite the high windows, there is a story that a town drunk got into the stables and proceeded to cut off the tails of the horses just to spite the Police Sergeant. Somehow he managed to escape.
There was a Bobtail making its way into the stables when I was there. (photos)
The only way to visit the settlement is via the General Store or what is now the Visitor Centre. There is an admission at the counter in the tearoom and you will be given a layout of the settlement with information on the buildings. You are then at liberty to wander at leisure through the settlement. They are open 9.00am to 5.00pm daily. (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Good Friday).
The courtroom in the complex had a dual purpose. It was used not only for trying cases but also as a meeting room for the Road Board until 1906. Surprisingly the courtroom was subjected to people trying to break into it and not out of it and bars were put on the windows.
The Courthouse had its first Resident Magistrate in 1865. This was two years after Police were first stationed in the area. During this time unrest between the locals and the aboriginals was on the rise and was too much for the magistrate from Champion Bay who serviced the district. Before the court house was built, Donahue’s Barn was used.
These term was given to a document for prisoners when granting their freedom to work. They had to live and work within a particular district until their sentence was fully served or they were granted a pardon. They could own property and hire themselves out. Part of the condition of TOL was that they must attend church and also appear before the Magistrate when called. A bit like being of probation as we know it today.
The prison cells were not designed for long term stayers. There were 5 cells altogether. The white prisoners were held in 4 of them and the other one was kept for Aboriginals prisoners. They were chained up in the cells to and iron bar on the back wall.
This is the second St Catherine’s Church, the first was built in 1893 of timber and was a feeding ground for white ants (termites). It was badly damaged and a new one had to be built in 1913.
When the new church was built of stone this time, any fittings etc that were able to be saved were used in the new church. These fittings, including the timber the original timber and iron, were shipped out from England. St Catherine’s is an Anglican church and still holds services today including weddings.
With the community growing, the town was in need of a venue for social activities. The land was donated by the Mill and hotel owner, Arthur Clinch, and building began in 1898. The small porch on the front was built in 1901 and served as the entry into the hall. All kinds of events were held in hall including dances, meetings, school activities, fairs and movie nights. The hall still gets used today for social events.