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Roy Hill Homestead and former Post Office

Author

Shire of East Pilbara

Place Number

24438
There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.

Location

Marble Bar Rd Nullagine

Location Details

Local Government

East Pilbara

Region

Pilbara

Construction Date

Constructed from 1885

Demolition Year

N/A

Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Municipal Inventory Adopted 27 Aug 1999

Statement of Significance

Roy Hill Station has strong heritage significance as it has aesthetic, historical, scientific, and social values. It represents more than a hundred years of life on a Pilbara station, and its buildings and structures, reflect an evolutionary pattern of development. Roy Hill Station was the home of Alexander Langdon (Alex) Spring who made an enormous contribution to local government in the region between 1940-70. He was a Councillor for 31 years, and was the first President of the East Pilbara Shire in 1972. He was made a Freeman of the Shire of East Pilbara in 1973. becoming the 13 th Freeman in Western Australia.
Roy Hill continues to have significance as a large pastoral station, representing some of the other stations which owners did not want included in the Shire of East Pilbara Heritage Inventory.

Physical Description

Roy Hill Homestead is situated 1km off the main road halfway between Newman and Nullagine. Roy Hill Station consists of a large number of buildings which demonstrate the dynamic process of running a pastoral station over a period of more than a century. There are a number of corrugated iron sheds built at different times for mechanical work and storage of station equipment. Close by is the aircraft directional beacon available for the nearby airstrip if a plane was lost. The original airstrip was approx. 6 miles from the homestead. Part of the very old cattle stockyards still stand next to a disused cattle killing hoist, reflecting a time when pastoralists regularly butchered cattle for their home consumption. The yards were the main trucking yards and general handling yards.
The large main house is one of a number of buildings that have been erected on the station since the turn of the century. It has cement block walls with a corrugated iron roof. Surrounding the large and once gracious home is a wide verandah. The house originally consisted of three bedrooms, a living room, guest room, dining room and school room. Nearby the house is a cluster of older buildings including a 'Nissan hut' shaped kitchen and dining room for workers and the old Post Office. Office and General Store.
The Post Office, Office and General Store has corrugated iron walls and a gabled tin roof. Inside the Post Office are the pigeon holes and other associated post office fittings. The service hatch for the Post Office is still visible from the outside. The General Store (to the rear of the Post Office) still has its shelves in place and much of the old equipment that has been collccted there over the years gives a feeling of stepping back into another time. In the immediate vicinity of the homestead property are other remnants from the past.
Concrete pads found amongst the grass are the remains of Aboriginal stockmens quarters and the many rainwater tanks are reminders of the need to collect and store all water needed for consumption. A light aircraft parked near the airstrip is an important vehicle for transport and for mustering.
Today the house stands unoccupied and the owner and any employees live in transportable homes near the old house.

History

Nat Cooke, the owner of Mallina Station near Port Hedland. founded Roy Hill Station in 1886 after searching for new pastures when Mallina had suffered a number of years of drought. With gold on his mind Cooke was always looking for goldbearing ore in his search for new grazing land. He was successful in bringing gold rock specimens to the authorities in 1886 though he had to accept a share with two other prospectors in the reward for the first gold found in the district. Despite his gold mining efforts around Nullagine, Nat Cooke started a going concern on Roy Hill Station which is situated on the headwaters of the Fortescue River. The first official lease of 20.000 acres was granted to D McKay in January 1890.
H L Spring was one of a consortium who established Roy Hill Pastoral Company in 1919 with Jim Smith as Manager. Mount Fraser. an adjoining station, was incorporated in 1919. bringing the lease up to approx. one million acrcs. Initially the property was set up as a cattle station. By 1925 there were 11,500 head of cattle. In 1928 sheep were introduced and the sheep numbers built up to 46.000 by the mid 1960s.
At the same time 5.000 - 7,000 cattle were maintained. Roy Hill Station was one of the first in Australia to transport large numbers of cattle by truck from about 1925.
As Roy Hill was centrally located in relation to the other stations, it became a natural meeting point for a range of activities, particularly the meetings of the Nullagine Road Board. Roy Hill still remained an isolated station which greatly benefited from the introduction of the Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air. Oral history collected from past employees of Roy Hill Station highlights the contribution made by the Aboriginal stockman to the running of the station. About 20 Aboriginal stockmen were employed during the 1930s.
The Spring family was associated with Roy Hill Station for many decades. It was managed after 1938 by Alex Spring who later became the first Shire President of the East Pilbara Shire, formed in 1972. The large, once gracious homestead had wide verandahs shading the windows. Surrounding the homestead were vegetable gardens and large flower beds, along with alfalfa for the milking cows and working horses, irrigated by water pumped from the river.
Evidence of the importance of Roy Hill's central position in the district is found in the old Post Office and General Store situated next to the homestead. The old iron building still shows signs of its years of service as some furniture and shelving remain in the Post Office and Store. The main road used to lead people right past the Roy Hill Store and Post Office, but has since been realigned. The Post Office played a vital role for the people of the isolated Nullagine district, maintaining its own postcode for a number of years.
The Post Office and Store closed in 1971.
New owners arrived at Roy Hill Station in 1972 when the Roy Hill Pastoral Company sold out. The Kennedy Brothers set out to eliminate the sheep holdings and increase the cattle stock. Today (1997) the cattle number about 5,000. though at one stage (1925) 11,925 cattle use to roam the 334,000 ha (1 million acres) of Roy Hill. The large pastoral station is nearly all fenced, a rare feature for the Pilbara. The cattle are mustered by the use of fixed wing aircraft and some ground based staff (only 2-3 employed today, 1997). Murray Kennedy flies his own plane for mustering and commuting to other towns.
There was an early homestead built on the property before the advent of cars and electricity. It was located between the new house and the store, and was demolished in 1972. The Roy Hill Station owners have always generated their own power (but not always electricity). A carbide gas producer found on the property was used to generate power for a motor vehicle during WWII. There is a small cemetery on the property with some marked and some unmarked graves. The large distance from any town led to the building of an airstrip, first for the Flying Doctor Service and then later for other airborne visitors Oral history reveals a visiting clergjman. Father Bryan, was circling over Roy Hill homestead one day to indicate his arrival, when it is thought his plane stalled or ran out of fuel. His Tiger Moth plane crashed into a spinifex cool house and he was pulled clear of the wreckage unharmed, just as it burst into flames. A spinifex cool house, similar to the one lost in the crash, can be seen in the grounds of the homestead. The cool house operates on the same principle as a Coolgardie safe. Instead of hessian walls that are hosed down, loosely packed spinifex between wires provides the insulation.
Today the homestead stands unoccupied next to an empty pool and an overgrown garden. Severe problems of maintenance have arisen and earlier damage caused by a flood in cl946 is still evident. Roy Hill Station is still a going concern, reflecting a story of change over a century of pastoral life.

References

Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
Oral History from M Kennedy. March 1997
Oral History from A and M Spring August 1997
H Edwards; "Gold Dust and Iron Mountains". Beyond 1993

Place Type

Individual Building or Group

Uses

Epoch General Specific
Original Use FARMING\PASTORAL Homestead
Original Use Transport\Communications Comms: Post or Telegraph Office
Present Use FARMING\PASTORAL Homestead

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron
Wall CONCRETE Concrete Block

Historic Themes

General Specific
OCCUPATIONS Grazing, pastoralism & dairying

Creation Date

05 Feb 2009

Publish place record online (inHerit):

Approved

Last Update

01 Jan 2017

Disclaimer

This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.