Research

Researching Kimberley History

At the KHS Museum a great deal of time has been spent showing visitors how to get started on research, which is always greatly appreciated. If you would like to research Kimberley or any other not limited to Australian history see KHS Links - Australian Historical Societies Listing & Recommended History Research Links (Trove - WA SRO - SLWA - et al) for some useful information to help get you started.

Researching the KHS Archive

Apply for a KHS Research Permit

To research the archival material held by KHS you will need to apply for a researcher's ticket. Go to the KHS Researcher Application page. Members Researchers You could also join the society as a member. We encourage people to become financial life members to support the work on this archive, and receive regular updates. with no need for messy renewals at just 10 times the annual membership rate. Join KHS Now!

Research from KHS

Kimberley History Research Chronology - Compiled by KHS

1886

 Thompson's Spring was named by Tom Kilfoyle in 1886 - Read about that and see his diary entry from that day on a separate page on the History of Thompson's Spring, including the small weir built circa 1953-54. 

1919

The Wyulda - Scaly Tailed Possum found at Violet Valley by Rademy in 1919

Did you know that a new very rare species was discovered in 1919 at Violet Valley by Mr. Rademy, who had been a bookkeeper for CD&D, at the time was Managing the WA Government's Aboriginal 'Feeding Station' at Violet Valley. Read more from - 1919 - The Wyulda - Scaly-tailed Possum. 

 Read more about the WA/NT Border determinations from the Anniversaries History page as well as in a news article corrected by KHS and illustrated with images from the KHS archive. The article was found on the wonderful, "Trove" (National Library of Australia's history search engine). Read the KHS version of the 1921 WA/NT Border Determinations article, interwoven with photographs from the Hambidge Collection as well as with entries from MP Durack's diary.
On March 31st 1941 Kimberley Michael Durack (KMD) published a thoroughly researched document, 'Developing the North - A Proposed Research Station for the Kimberleys,' and by the end of 1941 his proposal had become a reality. It is fascinating to realise that Kim Durack was just 24 years old when he wrote this proposal, researched and written with great skill. We hope you enjoy reading...

Download - 'Developing the North - Proposed Research Station for the Kimberleys' (5.6 MB) written by KM Durack and published 75 years ago on March 31st 1941 (in 2016) KHS archive number KHS-2015-1-H-BD.

KHS hopes you enjoy and we would appreciate any feedback you may have.

 

[As this PDF is hyperlinked it is best viewed by saving to your hard drive and viewing in Adobe Acrobat Reader and not in web based viewers as hyperlinking may not work correctly.]

1941 - Carlton Reach experimental station was set up by Kimberley Michael Durack, with support of the Department of Works (later PWD) and later the WA Department of Agriculture. Read some interesting history about the 1st industrial pump engine on the Ord, from - Carlton Reach Pump Engine - a KHS Research page.
 
Also see Carlton Reach Set (on Flickr) to read Bill Durack's accounts of his experiences assisting his brother in the early 1940s, at what was the very beginnings of the Ord River Irrigation Area.
 

1942 - Wirraway Challenge - 75 Years Ago in 2017 on March 20th

1942 - On March 20th 1942, a 12 Squadron Wirraway, A20-62, was force landed on the coastal saltmarsh near the WA/NT border, after engine failure over the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. Read about the "Wirraway - Challenge" permanent exhibit at the Kununurra Museum which details the story of their survival and rescue by four Aboriginal stockmen and Charlie Pretlove. The exhibit has the salvaged cockpit canopy and some of the few parts from the plane, that survived after 62 years on the saltmarsh. A DVD in eight parts, which details the stories of pilots, Lew Dwyer and Warwick Carmody, is also available to view from the Wirraway-Challenge Page link (Here or at end of page).

1953-54 - Thompsons Spring

A short history of the Stone Masonry Weir

The stone masonry weir, was constructed below the spring, about 8 metres above the waterhole from ground level, during the 1953/54 wet season.

Thompsons Spring

 
 This interesting information was related to KHS by the late William Arthur Champness (Bill) Wright, on what would be Bill's last visit, on July 21st 2013, to his beloved and historically well known, Thompsons Spring. Use the '4 cornered gaget' to lower right hand side - Use 'Show Info' to display information about each photograph.
 
 Bill was the Engineer for Main Roads Department WA for the major upgrade to the Ivanhoe Crossing of the Ord River over two dry seasons (1952 and 1953), when the height of the original 1920s concrete crossing, once known as 'Buchan's Crossing', was raised by around a metre. Using a combination of stone masonry, formwork of timber and for each culvert at Ivanhoe Crossing, being 6 x 44 gallon drums, opened and welded end to end, then concrete filled around, section by section, to effectively raise the crossing height.
 
 When the new crossing for the Wyndham-Nicholson road was complete at Ivanhoe toward the end of 1953, at least two of the Italian stone masons, with wives and children, were camped at Thompson Springs, waiting for the next dry season's work, when they would be employed doing the culverts between Golden Gate and Argyle on that part of the old Wyndham-Nicholson road that now disappears into the north end of Lake Argyle and beyond, or the next major job, which was to be for masonry work on the Crossing of the Ord River by the Great Northern Highway, not far north of Halls Creek. When you look at the old low-level crossing there, you may notice the similarities to the older Ivanhoe Crossing. 
 
[One of the Italian Stone-masons' children (an unknown number (1-3) at Thompsons Spring - one child (Maria?), was born near a certain mile peg close to the Ord River crossing near Halls Creek, likely circa 1954 when they were working on the Ord low-level crossing masonry work.]
 
 It is believed that the pool held back by the small dam they built, became the perfect "bath", surrounded by rock surface, (not just mud and sand as in the pool below), as a luxury for their wives and children, to cleanly emerge from their "bath" - ('Rosa's Pool' ;^).

Bill Wright Collection

 
[Above has been written from my memory of the story that came out on the 2013 visit with Bill Wright - Add the research file information and migrate to a separate page? Added this short history this evening - It is believed there may have been an article written about Thompsons Spring in an as yet unseen gold detecting magazine (let us know Issue & date if you may have seen this?). The article sent to KHS is not a correct history so this is to help dispel any myths that may emerge from that article. KHS was sent a draft, and after reading realised it was not correct history, KHS Members at a meeting decided to did-allow use of KHS images as requested for the article. It was written by a person who was a former resident of Kununurra, from childhood stories, not factual accounts.  AB 17 I 2017]
 
1959-1961 - Research into the process of Naming Kununurra - A fascinating retrospective view of the extensive WA Government Correspondence (found in the KHS archive) that we have transcribed and presented here about how the town got its name, the many other names it could have been called that are suggested in the correspondence, with a final dramatic climax when the Post Master General (PMG) objected to Cununurra (after the Cununurra Clay so named in 1943 soil investigations?) originally from Mary Durack, being, Gununurrang (all of the "u"s being pronounced like 'good')the Aboriginal name given to that part of the Ord meaning 'big waters' - The PMG also believed it too close to "Cunnamulla" in Queensland but eventually accepted Kununurra with a "K".
 
See the 1961 - Kununurra Townsite Proclamation Official Documents thanks to the WA SRO or read articles researched for the Kimberley Echo newspaper "Looking Back" history column.
 
1963 - See some KHS research on the 1963 Royal Tour and the RAAF Convair A96-353 - VIP Transport Aircraft that brought the Royal Tour party from Darwin to Kununurra then returned to Darwin, from where the Royal tour continued onboard HMS Brittania to Fremantle via Broome and Geraldton.
Take a look at what was happening 50 years ago in Kununurra by what we have listed in the KHS archive.

1986 - Formation of the Kununurra Historical Society

1986 - Read about the History of the Kununurra Historical Society in the formation of the Kununurra Historical Society (KHS - Our Own History! ;^) at a meeting on June 5th 1986 convened by Ursula Brimble - Has full minutes and apologies for the 1986 meeting. Hope you enjoy!