Kununurra Museum

Run by the

Kununurra Historical Society

Kimberley History Site (KHS :^)

Welcome to the Kununurra Museum run by the

Kununurra Historical Society (KHS - Website :^)

With a new look and feel after a dozen years online the website is now even more accessible! (As the new platform is better for any of your de-vices :^)

From here you can find out about our history.  The history of the Kimberley Region, a large area which has never had large populations, but has an incredibly rich history. The lay of the land in the Kimberley Region along with the history is a great enigma that takes years to grasp. The Kimberley impact millions of years ago has shaped the land and shaped the history, whether here along the Ord or 'Over the Range.'  We hope you enjoy your visit!

Kununurra Museum "Date-sorted Slideshow" (Web) 1

(From the Big Bang 13.8 Billion years ago to 1418)

Here on our website is a miniature sample of the date-sorted slide-shows (with almost 30,000 images) that run on multiple screens at the Kununurra Museum, each on different decades - slowly rolling forward on each screen. going from the Big Bang (13.8 Billion years ago through to 4.5 Billion years into the future!   Here on the web we can only present a tiny sample, but you will get the idea. The Kununurra Museum "Date-sorted Slideshow" (Web) 1 here on this website has from the Big Bang 13.8 Billion years ago to 1418 - For later years see Kununurra Museum "Date-sorted Slideshow" (Web) 2, 3 & 4 embedded below as you scroll down this page.

By naming jpg image files as "YYYY-MM-DD - Useful and descriptive Title_With Collection Info" then if you save to a "Date-sorted" folder, they will all sort into correct order.  We use this for all file naming conventions for display images and it is also used for admin files.

We now have around 30,000 date sorted images that play on multiple screens at the museum (with information at top), from the Big Bang to now.  Many of these have been saved (DL'd) from other collecting institutions - anything relevant to Ord-Victoria - Kimberley-NT history, as well as from our own collections. 

Each PC/laptop runs 2 x screens (Extended desktop) and can each show the same 30,000 images but each of half a dozen or more screens, each on a different year, slowly scrolling forward in endless loops.  

Fascinating for visitors to see and with the work that has gone into this over 15 years the "Date-sorted Slide-shows" are one of the most compelling "displays" at Kununurra Museum.  

This is just a small taste. But screen-grabbed from the KHS Slideshows, which are run on FREE software, "IrfanView" (hit enter - Goes Full Screen with title - editable) then "Shift A" for "a"utomatic viewing.  Hope you enjoy when you come and visit!

Hoping you enjoy this visit to the gateway for the Kununurra Museum run by the Kununurra Historical Society's online presence. If you are in the East Kimberley visit the KHS Archive, Gallery, Library, Museum & Research facilities 250 metres from the PO at 72 Coolibah Drive (for a map see >>>) Contact KHS.   The Kununurra Museum has developed from an almost empty building in 2004 that has been kept open regularly in the past fifteen years, as a completely volunteer run museum.  We have been actively collecting since 1986 and continue building on a dynamic archive, with items of great "significance,"  to East Kimberley, Western Australian and our National histories. Join KHS Now!

[On any web page if text looks too small (or too large) on PC or Laptop - Use "Ctrl" key with "+" (plus) & "-" (minus) keys to ZOOM in & out to increase or decrease the text size - Note that this should work on any web page. - KHS 29 VII 2020]

Access all of Kununurra Museum's online presence from this website from our "Social" links page

The VRD Doomsday Book

New Edition & Home for the Victoria River District Doomsday Book

If you enjoy Ord-Victoria  (Rivers Region - Kimberley & NT) - A short history of each station, followed by short biographies, as a list of Managers, Stockmen & others from woe to go for each station, documenting people and places, then get...

"The Victoria River District Doomsday Book," (FREE) compiled as a PDF with the information from hundreds of people used to document these station histories by Darrell Lewis.  Look up your favourite stations or characters and read about what was a wild history.  Here on the Kununurra Museum website we have created our new home for downloading the latest edition of Darrell Lewis' great compendium - Go to KHS Web - The Victoria River District Doomsday Book in our Research Section.

100 Years Ago - KHS Album on Flickr - "1923"

Walter Okes - "The Oil Stockman"

Walter Okes  pictured above, is believed to have found a bituminous substance near the Ord-Negri junction before World War one.  He had taken up Ningbing station circa 1908 and his name has been found blazed on boabs out close to the Kimberley coast and another was found out on the Drysdale River, so Walter got around.  I have found several leases he was involved in after Ningbing with his name appearing on the WA Lands Department's "cancelled public plans," their master record maps of lease-holders.

An Aboriginal man I've read of in "The Dust Come in Between" - Aboriginal Viewpoints in the East Kimberley (CHECK) by Bruce Shaw, is July "Oakes."  He had been connected to an Ernst Oakes who had been a Manager at the Ord River station in the 1890s, but that is too far back to be any connection.  After reading about July in Bruce;s book, there is no doubt that with the things July Oakes discusses, although seeming to know little about his father, there is enough evidence there to conclude, without doubt, that July's father was Walter Okes, the man pictured above.  A photograph of July Oakes in the book bears a striking resemblance in facial features to Walter Okes as pictured here.  I had known of Walter Okes for many years and could not believe this when it turned up in the Elizabeth Durack Collection, that we were fortunate enough to given by ED's daughter, Perpetua and we were be able to digitise and document this interesting collection. 

 [AB 21 III 2023] You can read more and see photographs of the Okes-Durack Oil Bore, that was set up on Ord River station just south of the White Mountain Hills from here - Okes-Durack Oil Bore Site 

KHS Elizabeth Durack Collection (98 photos :^)

Table of Contents (this page only)

Significance (Definition)

 "Significance refers to the value and meanings that items and collections have for people and communities. Significance helps unlock the potential of collections, creating opportunities for communities to access and enjoy collections, and to understand the history, cultures and environments of Australia". From Significance 2.0 a guide to assessing the significance of collections, by Roslyn Russell and Kylie Winkworth for the Collections Council of Australia Ltd. (Now axed - This may still be available online as a PDF - Search title).

In Search of "Black Pat" Durack's 1885 View Hill Store

Field trips by boat on Cambridge Gulf and overland in 2018

An expedition in 2018 with the Gt Grandson of Patrick Mantinea Durack, who came into Kununurra Museum and asked if I knew of "Black Pat" Durack?"  I replied in the affirmative and reached for the book, "Kimberley Scenes," turned to the page with the photo of Black Pat, and said, "Brad, I've known of your Great Grandfather for more than 30 years. Do you know why they called him Black Pat" - Before he could answer I said, "because he had black hair like you do!," so have once or twice called him "Black Brad." 

  I had known of Black Pat from a book I've owned since year of publication, a Kimberley Gold Rush history bible, "Kimberley Scenes" (P. Bridge & C. Clement - Hesperian Press)  and how he built a store at View Hill in 1885, the year before Wyndham started. 

 I had always wondered, did he really cut down a boab tree to make a canoe to move his goods 3km along the Gulf?  Which Black Pat describes in his memoirs.  

"The difficulty now was to move my goods from where landed, to where I decided to build a store"...

 [Which was where he had found water - a spring at low tide - under the sea twice a day - about 3 km away - KHS Added note]. 

"I decided to make a canoe out of a Bottle Tree and with the aid of three Chinamen..." 

[Three men brought from Darwin as cooks for the newly forming stations - Argyle Lissadell and Rosewood stations.  One of them,  Ah Moi never managed to get away from View Hill, Cambridge Gulf, his work for Black Pat, fetching water and catering for dozens in great heat, living for months in primitive and extremely remote conditions, drove him to shoot himself (in the stomach?). An inquest was held (KHS has a copy in the archive photographed at WA SRO), finding a verdict of Suicide, he was then buried in his blanket on the edge of the saltmarsh, not far from the store.  Some years later when his countrymen went to exhume the body to take him back to China, poor old Ah Moi had solidified, as they termed him the "Fossilised Chinaman" - KHS Added Note 17 III 2023] 

"I decided to make a canoe out of a Bottle Tree and with the aid of three China-men we cut down a large bottle tree 16 ' [foot or ~5m] long and 4' [feet] 6" [inches or just over a metre] wideThe tree was solid but as it was soft inside we had little trouble in digging it out and when completed, we carried one ton of sugar, each load, also same of flour, iron and timber."  

[Now that is not a bad "canoe" to carry a "ton" in the old measurement was about 1,000 kg - Will your canoe carry a ton? KHS]

We need to go back a bit before telling you about our trip out to View Hill, looking for evidence of where he built his store.  Before he got to View Hill, Black Pat had been on the cattle drive with his brothers, Big Johnnie, Long Michael, Jerry Brice and James - All Duracks but from a different branch to the Argyle Durack's but they were Patsy Durack's first cousins. Their mother was the older sister (by 12 years) of Tom Kilfoyle, so these Duracks were all Tom's nephews, with Tom closer in age but older than them all, he was no doubt a big influence on them. 

 This branch of the Durack family I term the "Kilfoyle - Duracks" which helps to sort out who's who.  They were nearing the Victoria River with cattle, when Black Pat realised that all three mobs of cattle, would all need stores when they got to the Ord.  So with Tom Hayes crook with fever and needing to see a doctor, he and Black Pat left on horseback for Palmerston, Port Darwin as Darwin was known as then.  

Black Pat must have had a map showing Cambridge Gulf and where the Ord flows in to the Gulf at View Hill  (~40km north of Wyndham but still only half way to the top of Cambridge Gulf), which was where he had told them he would build his store, as before he left he said to them, "follow the Ord and you will find my store."  

At Port Darwin he purchased 46 tons of stores to take to View Hill, with word of the Halls Creek gold discoveries, there were already men on the ground, so Patrick Mantinea Durack got stores for the stations, and for any miners coming from the field with gold, they could get their provisions, and we even found evidence that he had Champagne to sell (see in the DV).  But how to get the 46 tons moved to Cambridge Gulf?

An American timber carrying ship, the "Lorinda Borstel" had brought Karri from Hamelin Bay near Augusta for construction of the Darwin wharf in 1885.  Black Pat talked to Captain Henry Borstel, who I found a photograph of, as well as a photo of his wife, Lorinda, who he had named the ship after (Their photos are in the video). The Lorinda Borstel also took a store-keeper from Darwin to Derby after Black Pat was dropped off about 50 km down into Cambridge Gulf to the "South East Arm" which is where the Ord River comes into the gulf.  It is very remote and wild.

And so it was at Coghlan's Landing, the same place we landed - the only place at View Hill you can land almost onto the rocks, while everywhere else for 20km or more up the South East Arm is mud and mangroves.  From here we had a 6km walk so had to have swags and food to leave on the next high tide - giving us 24 hrs on the ground.  We had come 40km north of Wyndham in Cambridge Gulf, so an 80km round trip in a dinghy.  

About two weeks after Black Pat had finished building his store, Griffiths, a store-keeper came down from Darwin and had soon erected a second store a few hundred metres away, that would be run by former NT Mounted Policeman, August Lucanus, who'd come overland [?]. 

This was the start of the Halls Creek Gold Rush that Black Pat and Lucanus (for Griffiths) knew about and catered for at their stores.  It was about a 3km walk from where we were landed in 2018 to what we now call, "Black Pat's Boab," where we did find compelling evidence of Black Pat's 1885 presence, as you can see in this DV.  Hope you enjoy.  

Uploaded (August 9th 2020) a new digital video of two history field trips made by members of the Kununurra & Wyndham Historical Societies - Hope you have time (41 mins) to watch what was, some almost ,"Lost Kimberley & NT History," we found evidence of on the ground!  You can read more linked from the "Research" pages - http://www.kununurra.org.au/research/1885-view-hill or watch the film now from here.

Kununurra Museum "Date-sorted Slideshow" (Web) 2

(From 1521 to 1821) 

Kununurra Museum - Opening Hours

(Always dependent on volunteer availability :^) 

Kununurra Museum is Open Monday to Friday 12.30 to 5.30  but if there is a car there feel free to come in before opening time. 

Click the image below (if you'd like to "Join KHS"? :^)

4,000,000 Views of KHS Flickr Collections Soon?

Will you be our 4,000,000th image view of Kununurra Historical Society collections on Flickr?

We are now (March 2023) approaching the 4,000,000th view of our collections on Flickr, making our archives accessible to all.   Kununurra Museum Flickr Albums and Collections You can access photos within an archive collection or as subject themes, in organised collections from KHS Archive Collections on Flickr, like the Calder Family 35mm Slide Collection.

 All of the KHS collections, including this latest collection are also discoverable on the National Library of Australia's wonderful Trove Search Engine as part of the "Trove - Australia in Pictures" 'Group' on Flickr (where we make photo collections accessible to all :^) Try searching Kununurra on Trove (Pictures) from https://trove.nla.gov.au/picture/result?q=kununurra.

Kununurra Museum Photo Collections on Flickr

Latest Online Collections - 3,000,000 Views

 The Kununurra Historical Society (KHS) collections on Flickr have now had more than 3,000,000 image views (passed in June 2019) - So half a million views since the 2.5 millionth view in March 2018 and the 2,000,000th view in December 2016, which equates to an average of more than 30,000 views each month or around a thousand image views per day.  These images could have remained in the KHS archive and seen by very few, so by digitising and documenting these KHS collections (and many not yet online) KHS is making them accessible to all.

Kununurra Museum on faceBook

(Like :^) Kununurra Museum on faceBook (to get Notifications :^)

If you "Like" the Kununurra Museum's fB Page (under main banner - "Like" us on fB! :^) 


You will then get notification in your fB 'newsfeed' (when we post.   :^)

See https://www.facebook.com/Kununurra.Museum/ 

OR See all of our...

Kununurra Museum FaceBook "Albums"

From here - Kununurra Museum on fB - Photo Album Collections

(See KHS on fB - 'Photos' - 'Albums' for some great history albums not on our Flickr site where we have around an additional 3,000 photographs accessible to all :^)

Kununurra Museum (administered) faceBook Group

"Lost Kimberley & NT" (history :^) fB Group

ALSO Join our fB Group - "Lost Kimberley & NT" (history :^) fB Group from https://www.facebook.com/groups/Lost.Kimberley.and.NT/ 🤓

"Lost Kimberley & NT" (History - KHS admin'd ;^) fB (Learning) Group

 This is an exclusive, "Private" Group, and to  join you must answer three questions AND agree to the rules - Although it is possible, once you join the group, you are still NOT allowed to "Invite" any of your friends to the group, as people MUST answer questions and agree, do you see? OK  - So all you need to do is copy & paste this link belo - Message or email them, or paste it in a post on your page (with the gist of this message) then paste that in (maybe this whole message?  May help ?  :^)


Kununurra Museum "Date-sorted Slideshow" (Web) 3

(From 1821 to 1855 - Really this is just a tiny sample :^)  

Wyndham's 1st Air Raid March 3rd 1942

A new Video Oral history DV on the Kununurra Museum YouTube Channel. Wyndham's 1st Air Raid - March 3rd 1942

Published on Mar 3, 2019 - On this day (March 3rd) in 1942, Wyndham, Western Australia suffered its first air-raid when it came under attack by Japanese aircraft.  On the same day Broome, Western Australia suffered the 2nd most devastating attack on Australian soil during WWII. Thanks to the Civil Aviation Historical Society (CAHS - Australia) who have allowed KHS to extract part of an Oral History from CAHS collections to mix with new vision of relevant photographs in this documentary version I have created for the Kununurra Historical Society. Hope you enjoy!

[Remember to go 'Full Screen' (Click 4 cornered gadget lower RHS :^) for best view - Also it may start at lower resolution - Select HD 1920x1080 for best quality from settings gadget]

Wirraway-Challenge - Part 5 of 8 [Goes to Kununurra Museum YouTube Channel]


May 2018 - Kununurra Museum & Wyndham Museum

'Remembering Them' Exhibitions

A Grave in the Long Grass - Neal Durack on Ivanhoe Station

(Opens at the Kununurra Museum during May then ongoing)

  2018 marked the centenary of the end of World War I and these exhibitions were initially researched and devised locally then with thanks to further research by the Royal WA Historical Society, the panels then professionally designed with collaboration between each Society and staff of the WA Museum and Museums & Galleries Australia WA, along with a museum quality showcases for the Kununurra and Wyndham Museums.

 The Remembering Them project that has been in progress since 2014 (to 2018) to commemorate the 1914-1918 WWI centenary) has been generously funded by Lottery West and the WA Government. Thanks to the Army Museum (Fremantle) WA for temporary display objects of the 10th Light Horse (for Kununurra Museum), as well as the WA State Records Office for images of the 'cancelled public plans' and the State Library of Western Australia who supplied photographs (& plans) for use on the history exhibition panels.

The exhibition was officially opened on the weekend of May 5th & 6th 2018 and forms part of our permanent displays in 2023.

This is a classic piece of 1963 history that is relevant to today's use of renewable energy, showing part of the Kununurra Historical Society's Jim Gooderson collection, from when he was on a PWD survey crew that was making a survey of Tidal Power along the Kimberley Coast. A paper was published by Public Works Department Engineer, John Lewis, who was involved with the Ord River Diversion Dam construction. John has kindly given KHS permission to re-publish his paper, which we hope to have online shortly.

View Jim Gooderson's photographs of the 1963 Tidal Power Survey on the Kimberley Coast (Goes to the collection on Flickr).

Latest Online Collections - 2,500,000 Views (March 2018)

The Kununurra Historical Society collections on Flickr have now had more than 2,500,000 image views (passed in March 2018) and the 2,000,000th view in December 2016, which equates to an average of more than 30,000 views each month. 

 All of the KHS collections, including this latest collection are also discoverable on the National Library of Australia's wonderful Trove Search Engine as part of the "Trove - Australia in Pictures" 'Group' on Flickr (where we make photo collections accessible to all :^) Try searching Kununurra on Trove (Pictures) from https://trove.nla.gov.au/picture/result?q=kununurra.

James Gooderson Collection - 1960-1962 

PWD Ord Surveys and Survey of Tidal Power in the Kimberley 1963

A new collection placed online in March 2018 is from James Gooderson now of Mornington Island, who was working with a PWD Survey Crew for the Ord River Irrigation Area 1960-1962 and was on the PWD Tidal Power Survey along the Kimberley Coast in 1963. A great collection that is relevant to the current push for renewable energy in Australia.

Pictured to right - 1961 -  Old Kimberley Research Station - Carlton Reach - 'A prospective buyer yours truly - Jim Gooderson'g 

[A "prospective buyer" - of the truck? cab ;^) AB - KHS Added to original caption on photo]  KHS-2012-97-ap-a-P10-D (Image link goes to the KHS James Gooderson Collection on Flickr)

View the Jim Gooderson Collection at Kununurra Museum on Flickr or view a separate Album from his collection...

1963 Tidal Power Survey of the Kimberley Coast

1963 - Tidal Power survey -  Secure Bay - West Kimberley - Robby on Tidal Power survey_KHS-2012-97-cg-b-P10-D - James Gooderson Collection (Photo Link goes to KHS Flickr Album)

2023 - 60 Years since the Royal Tour to Kununurra

1963 Royal Tour

Here's what we posted 10 years ago...

Did you know that Kununurra was a stop on the Royal Tour of 1963? In 2013 it will be 50 years since March 17th 1963, the day the Royal Tour landed, reputedly, the first (and only?) time, that the Queen has landed on an unsealed,(gravel - "dirt strip") runway. Do any royal watchers know if this is true? If so please contact us.

 Some new images of a control tower, which was erected for the 1963 Royal Tour, then dismantled. It was made of scaffolding, but no doubt equipped with the latest technology available in 1963. These photographs and others in the collections also show two RAAF fire tenders, which were reputed to have been flown to Kununurra on RAAF transport aircraft, then flown away. The newly made accessible images of the control tower were from a 2007 accession to the archive, being part of a collection sent by the Civil Aviation Historical Society (WA). Other images from this collection are now being placed online.

It would be great to see if there are any photographs of the Royal Yacht, Brittania, alongside the Broome jetty, or any others you may have of the Royal Tour to the Kimberley in 1963. Please contact us if you do and tell us your story on this or any other Kimberley history. 

To commemorate this 50th anniversary of the 1963 Royal Tour, other collection images not yet online, will be uploaded and made accessible to all. KHS is also hoping to have ready, some 8mm film footage of the Royal Tour, available as our first YouTube video, before March 17th 2013. [This did happen on the eve of and just in time for that anniversary]

View an embedded SlideShow of still images from the KHS Flickr site of the Royal Tour in Kununurra, from various KHS archive collections, here while on this page, use the right hand cornered gadget to go full screen.

OR View the Royal Tour 1963 photographic "Set" on Flickr, (Link goes to the set on Flickr in a new tab),

Kununurra Museum "Date-sorted Slideshow" (Web) 4

(From 1855 to 1885 - Will be coming soon - Come back to see :^)  

A Right Royal LIKE!

New Members NEEDED - and feel free to Donate

 To all past and present residents, we NEED your Support!  If you like what you see as you view the online content we are making accessible to all, with around 4,000 photographs from KHS archives in online collections as well as digital video on the Kununurra Museum YouTube Channel, please Join KHS!   Support the Kununurra Museum, you can support this work to continue - Please Join KHS Now!

Are you a philanthropist who loves history? 

 We hope from what you have seen KHS online presence to date, that the work being done at KHS is a worthy cause and you would be assisting for this great work to continue and increase. 

I you are one of those who loves the history presented here - Please donate!  You would be assisting the important work of actively collecting and preserving our history, of local, State and National significance, and your donation would be greatly appreciated and help to preserve this local history research repository.

[All donations are fully tax deductible as KHS has 'Deductible Gift Recipient' (DGR) status with the Australian Taxation Office.]

 You can go to our Join KHS now page to get KHS BSB & A/C details to donate directly or you can keep track of all of your donations at the KHS GiveNow page from >> https://www.givenow.com.au/khs


[Image above links to Kununurra Museum KHS News Page - 50 Years of Races in August 2017 & other news items.]

 A great new collection of 193 photographs have been derived from the album made by Henry Hall, who was in charge of Operation Ord Noah during the 1971-72 wet season, which saw Lake Argyle fill for the first time. Henry was part of the wildlife group Western Australian Wildlife Association (WAWA so when you see WAWA on boats in this collection that is nothing to do with the Water Corporation's former title post PWD, Water Authority of Western Australia - WAWA).

 Clicking album page below will take you to the Album collection, once there click on an image then scroll down for further information or view ALL as a slideshow (only available from main album page - near top right of page). 

"Where is Dr. Leichhardt?"

"The Greatest Mystery in Australian History"

Book - "Where is Dr Leichhardt?" written by Darrell Lewis.

Could the famous lost explorer have made it past the Kimberley? Read more about a new book launch on Thursday May 16th at the National Museum of Australia from the KHS News page.

Also see - The Victoria River District Doomsday Book (in the Research Section :^)

Museums Australia Conference in Canberra - May 2013

Thanks to Museums Australia (the peak body for Museums in Australia), the KHS President was successful in applying for a bursary, to help cover costs associated with  travel between May 15th and 23rd, to attend the Museums Australia Conference in Canberra, which has a great range of topics relevant to a regional museum (See full conference program from KHS News).

The Brass Gun Plate - "1848 Ludwig Leichhardt"

Found on a Boab tree with an "L" (for Leichhardt) by Charlie Harding c 1900

  Down the Duncan Road and out to the southern side of the Buchanan Highway to beyond Birrindudu. There on the edge of desert country, on the northern slopes of the Browns Range, lies a belt of about 280 "big, old" boab trees, cut off by great distance from the nearest of all other Kimberley boab trees, with the possibility of other boabs further south.  This is close toward the Gardiner Range, which is where the men went "wet season prospecting,"  when the Leichhardt name-plate is said to have been found over a century ago.

 The name-plate, with the words "Ludwig Leichhardt 1848," was found on a burnt/broken gun in the hollow of a "bottle-tree," (boab) reputedly with an "L" inscribed on the tree. The gun to which the brass nameplate (145mm wide x 20mm high x 2mm thick) had been attached, was left at the tree.  The tree and gun were said to have been found by the Aboriginal assistant to stockman, Charlie Harding, named "Jackie." 

Little is known of this pair's Kimberley movements, who it has been written went out "wet season prospecting" from Hall's Creek towards the Gardiner Range and near the Sturt Creek WA/NT border region.

Despite intensive search by helicopter and quad bike, by Darrell and others in 2007 and 2008, respectively, no boab with an "L" inscribed, nor the gun remains (which would have been an early muzzle-loader), have yet been located. 

 In Darrell's book he has researched and documented all of the different searches for Leichhardt, drawing on some fascinating facets of his new research, which suggests that Leichhardt had made it across Queensland, then across the Northern Territory, and if a 'good year' of rains to make Sturt Creek flow, he would have found that with his Scientific methodology, and would most likely have followed it, like AC Gregory did seven years after Ludwig had left Moreton Bay.  

 This would have taken Leichhardt's party to the place where Inverway was later taken up by the Farquarson Brothers, close to Sturt Creek then down towards the Gardiner Range and the Browns Range dome, the home of the old boabs Darrell found.  One fascinating piece of evidence from an article I had come across and digitised, that I showed Darrell, and he went through the newspapers to successfully find which issue the museum display article had come from.  I feel proud that this snippet fitted the story and had come from the Kununurra Historical Society's archive.  The article was from an issue of the predecessor to the Kimberley Echo, titled, "Kununurra News" and was an interview with a local Aboriginal woman, Martha Lawrie, who had been brought up on Inverway station.  

[Add the Amy Lawrie Story]

[AB for KHS - 14 VII 2013 - Updated 21 V 2023 ]

The Leichhardt nameplate is on display at the National Museum of Australia (NMA), where more information can be found. The image below of the nameplate is from the NMA s web page for the object listing - NMA Collection Object Listing - Leichhardt Nameplate [This link will open in a new tab to keep this page open]

2023 - Commemorated 60 Years since the Royal Tour

 On March 17th 2023 we are commemorating 60 Years since the Royal Tour to Kununurra, as we transition to this new website, I have re-vamped one page and created two more with information and images from a new archive in 2022, as well as a page with just the Royal Tour DVs (Digital Videos :^) - All are in links at end of this new page...

1963 Royal Tour (...here on the Kununurra Museum Website)

 On Saint Patrick's Day - March 17th 2017, which was the day of the 1963 Royal Tour to Kununurra, I decided to post on the Royal Family's Facebook Page, which got a Royal response from a possible future Queen. [I was impressed! Thank you Kate (and family! :^) from the KHS.]

1963 Royal Tour - Royal LIKE!

News! The Great Kevin Richards 16mm colour film of the 1963 Royal Tour to Kununurra

This pristine looking 16mm colour film was made by cinematographer (& WA Ag. Dept. Entomologist), Kevin Richards and was added to YouTube in April 2017 (after the Royal Like - Will have to post this one to the Royal Family's fb page! :^)

Our friends at the Northern Territory Police Museum & Historical Society (NTPMHS), who first suggested using Google Sites, the base from which I have tweaked and hacked more functionality out of, for this Google Hosted (Apps for non-profits) kununurra.org.au website, ever since we started in late 2010. Thanks John! - I found on the NTPMHS cool YouTube Channel, that they had footage of the Royal Yacht Brittania arriving in Port Darwin in March 1963 as well as the Royal Party arriving at the RAAF 'drome Darwin. An 8mm home film from the NTPMHS Mannion Collection.

(Courtesy of the NTPMHS YouTube Channel, embedded here to view now! :^) Hope you enjoy this great bit of #PortDarwinHistory

There are several ways to view KHS collections on Flickr...

As KHS Collections (of Albums)


In KHS Subject Themes - 100 albums 

(Linked to Image Above - Click Image)


You can view as KHS Archive Collections 

(eg. Richards Collection) - 19 albums


Or view as individual Albums from here...

KHS Albums on Flickr - Page 1 - Decades then A-F


Kununurra-Wyndham Historical Societies Joint Christmas Lunch

 The Kununurra Historical Society (KHS) - Wyndham Historical Society (WHS) Christmas get-together will take place this year at the Kununurra Museum. Last year's at the Wyndham Museum was well attended and enjoyed by all. This year we are meeting at the Kununurra Museum on Saturday, December 17th, starting at 11 am. All KHS & WHS Members are invited to attend and are asked to bring along a plate of food to share.

To All KHS Members & Supporters - Have a Merry Christmas in 2016 and a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2017! From the Kununurra Historical Society.

 Activity on Social Media to promote these commemorations has resulted in posts to the Kununurra Museum Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Kununurra.Museum/ to promote the 8 x Parts of the Wirraway-Challenge digital video (DV) on the 'Kununurra Museum YouTube Channel' from http://www.youtube.com/user/KununurraMuseum.

  As well as new collections for the Kununurra Museum's Flickr account with more being added over following weeks to the 2000+ photographs in collections there. See below for more about...

KHS on Flickr - Our 2nd Millionth View

 In December we had our 2nd Millionth view of our archival photographic collections on Flickr!  KHS has over 2,000 images online which can be viewed in various ways. Our first Million came in August 2014 which took 3 years and six months from when we started on Flickr in 2011. Our 2nd million views took 2 years and four months from August 2014 (1st Million).

 If we had not digitised and put these online, they would have still been in the archive and virtually nobody would have seen them. KHS - Making archives accessible to all - from anywhere in the world!

The KHS photographs on the Flickr site, have now had over 1,938,650 image views (August 20th 2016). In Feb 2016 it was 1,760,057, a good increase of 70,789 views in the two months before (Feb 2016). Views peaked on January 28th7,006 views on that day.

KHS – Ord History Photographs

BEST Ways to View as...

Albums (Sets)

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Striving to Make #KimberleyHistory Collections More Discoverable for All!

 Read More from...http://www.kununurra.org.au/#KimberleyHistory

2016 RWAHS (State) Merit Award to KHS

At the Royal WA Historical Society (RWAHS) State History Conference during September, which the KHS President was able to attend for the first time and was greatly surprised that the Royal WA Historical Society (RWAHS) - State-wide Merit Award for 2016 was awarded to the Kununurra Historical Society.  The KHS President was delighted to be able to accept the framed award for KHS and express our appreciation to those gathered at the conference. (Our congratulations and our apologies go to runner-up Societies this year, Toodyay and Kalgoorlie ;^)


An extract below from the RWAHS Newsletter, History West, in the October 2016 issue...

Kununurra is a remote and isolated location but this does not deter the Society. Despite, or as a result of this remoteness, the Society has made a push to develop its digital resources which have been uploaded onto a very informative website. The website includes a wealth of information about Kununurra, including photographs, local events and news. This year three volunteers recorded 3,330 hours on a variety of tasks, including digitisation of the collection, transcription activities and working on the archives. In dollar terms this work is worth some $116,550. The Museum, which in 2015 was open five days a week, increasing to seven days a week in 2016, attracts a large number of visitors. Over the past year 2,009 people have visited. This year Kununurra celebrates its 30th year in operation. Well done!

Museums are ******* Awesome!

 The engaging three day Museums Australia WA (MAWA) conference - Engaging Communities - New Times, New Strategies, 12-14 October 2016 was also attended by the KHS President, with a full three day program of tours and interesting speakers, we were kept up to speed on what's happening at the cutting edge of other collecting institutions and museums in WA, as well as in the UK and the USA - from where we learned about "Museum Hack" tours at "the Met' " museum in New York. The conference had much of interest on offer and was very useful for networking with other attendees, well worth attending.

 Being as remote as we are (>3000 km from Perth by road) it would have been unlikely we could have attended without these bursaries, which are greatly appreciated by KHS and we thank all involved from both organisations (RWAHS & MAWA) who assisted in organising these travel bursaries and for the funding from LotteryWest to attend both the RWAHS and MAWA conferences. 

Fred Gutte - 'Wave Hill Spurs' Presented to the Kununurra Museum

On Tuesday, June 14th 2016 at 7pm at the Museum - A Great Talk!

 An Ord-Victoria Rivers Region stockman who was at Wave Hill and other NT & Kimberley stations back in the 1940s, Donald Howard, visited Kununurra in June gave a great talk during the presentation event at the Kununurra Museum. Donald has presented his genuine hand-made, and much revered in Ord-Victoria Station history, 'Fred Gutte spurs' or 'Wave Hill spurs' that he has donated to the Kununurra Historical Society collections. The spur collections have been popular displays and have already (19 VIII 2016) been seen by the many dry season visitors to the Kununurra Museum since Donald's talk and presentation.

 Fred Gutte was a  highly skilled blacksmith at Wave Hill station in the 1940’s and Donald has personal reminiscences in his memoirs describing some days working with him in the blacksmith's shop at Wave Hill, which are a priceless record. Photograph to right shows Donald Howard holding his Wave Hill spurs.

 Gutte made the spurs to his own design and sold them to stockmen and drovers on their personal order. The spurs became famous on every stock route and station throughout northern Australia.  Donald said he had paid Mr. Gutte  several old-style round tins of Log Cabin for the job.

"A few months ago I presented the museum with 'The 1886 Rosewood Penny' which I found on Rosewood Station near the NT-WA border,” Donald said, going on to explain that they were droving cattle from Wave Hill station to the Wyndham Meatworks.  "While watching cattle graze during ‘dinner camp,' I was scratching some small squares of dried mud left in a creek bed after the Wet, when one square failed to break up. I gave it an extra poke then picked it up and found an 1886 English penny which is now on display at the Kununurra Museum." 

The 1886 penny is now 130 years old, that being the same year that we are commemorating this year, when Wyndham was proclaimed a town at Cambridge Gulf, the northern hub to the Halls Creek gold-rush that set in that same year. The 1886 penny is now on display with Mrs Tom Kilfoyle's 1890's travel trunk, and some 'well used' (a 'TK' & 'JK') Rosewood Station branding irons at the Kununurra Museum. Donald said he hoped his donations would not only be a welcome addition to the museum’s collections but would 'spur on' others to give items of significance to this growing regional collection.

[No longer..] WANTED! - RM Williams Cuban Heels

 Response was good to a plea for an old pair of RM Williams Cuban Heel Stockman's boots that were no longer in use, as the fitting item to display the Wave Hill spurs on, and we now have 2 x pairs. This was fortunate as Ian Petherick donated spurs owned by his late  father Hugh Petherick (VRD - Legune - East Kimberley) said to have been acquired by Hugh from Lake Nash station NT, close to the Queensland border in the 1930s.

From No Spurs at the Museum to 5 x Spurs

 We had no spurs before June 2016 to now have 5 x Spurs in the Kununurra Museum collections, now, besides the two pairs mentioned, another machine-made brass, 'Mexican spur' circa 1910s to 1920s & oldest in the collection (may be USA machine made), with provenance to East Kimberley history.  This odd spur had been found under or near the school-house in use at the Argyle Downs homestead school of the 1960s, by a teacher there at the time and kept by his wife. I know that KHS member Meg Gayoso had treasured this brass spur, in her life since that time and it must have been hard for her to part with it for KHS collections, so thanks to Meg, and hope you can be happy to hear that many visitors have already seen this on display and wondered at it's well machined structure, and to compare to the two larger pairs of Australian hand-made spurs.  

[Photograph - Below - A 1944 aerial photographic montage by KHS  of the Carlton Reach Experimental Farm overlaid to show as it is now, with the main channel cutting through the first Research Station]

2016 - Commemorations

130 Years ago - Wyndham & Halls Creek Gold Rush

 In 1886 the town of Wyndham came into existence and the rush was setting in for 'Kimberley' (Halls Creek) goldfields, with ships arriving the tent city of Wyndham soon turned into a town.  Visit Halls Creek and Wyndham in 2016 and make sure you go to the old Courthouse in the Port to the Wyndham Museum and experience the history there too mark 130 years.

75 Years ago - Start of Carlton Reach

 In November and December 1941 KM Durack's proposal was becoming a reality as land was cleared and the Petters 36HP engine was being installed, heralding the first experiments focusing on fodder crops to aid the pastoral industry that would continue and expand until 1945.

70 Years ago - Start of Kimberley Research Station (KRS) in 1946

 The Carlton Reach Research station site was decommissioned and relocated to a new site on the east bank of the Ord down-river from Ivanhoe Crossing, where there were more representative soils, including blacksoil, and a good reach of water, on the site which Kim Durack had selected some years before, at Dillon's Bottle Tree. In May and June 1946 the first land was being prepared to start the Kimberley Research Station, as a Commonwealth (CSIR) and WA Department of Agriculture joint facility, marking the Commonwealth's first involvement that would lead to the national development of the Ord River Project.

2016 - 75 Years of Ord Irrigation

 In March 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.

 In 2014 it was realised that we did not have this document of great significance to Ord River Irrigation history, in the KHS archive, so in February 2015 the document was photographed at the Battye Library, then back in Kununurra each page was transcribed by KHS volunteers. Since then the transcriptions and 'Proposed Research Station' page images have been compiled into a new electronic document format, which we are placing online to make this accessible to all.

 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 KHS archive number KHS-2015-1-H-BD - '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 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. - Below - Crop from cover of the KHS transcribed document - Click image to download this document of historical significance, to mark 75 years of Ord Irrigation history in 2016, made accessible to all by KHS in August 2015.]

Amazingly in 2016 our 'new' purpose-built archive and museum facility, today known as the Kununurra Museum, will have been in operation for fifteen years. This amounts to half of the existence of the Kununurra Historical Society, having been inaugurated on June 5th 1986, we will be commemorating 30 years as a society.

Kim Durack's Pump Engine is Now at the Kununurra Museum

 Since locating and researching the provenance of the 36HP "Petters Atomic Diesel Engine," KHS member volunteers have worked at trying to make the engine more accessible (to all! :-), for display at the Kununurra Museum, to help show the local, State and National significance of tropical agriculture on the Ord and in the Kimberley Region.

The engine first used for irrigation from the Ord River in 1941 is now in the Kununurra Museum grounds.

The Carlton Reach Pump Engine

Used to 1st Pump the Waters of the Ord for Irrigation Experimentation 75 Years Ago in December 1941

The Petters 36 HP - Carlton Reach Pump Engine in place at the Kununurra Museum on October 24th 2013 KHS Archive Number - KHS-2013-124-P-BD - Note that the original river loam is still embedded in the fly-wheel and outer belt pulley wheel, left there when the engine was removed from the Ord River east bank at KRS, by Murray Shiner and one of his excavators, some years ago. A request was made when moving the engine this year, to leave this in place and amazingly this soil has remained in place throughout the various movements to get to the museum grounds.


[It was the intention to leave this dirt in place, to help tell this story, however, this may need to now be removed to prevent further rusting.If so at least here, that story is remembered, with photographic evidence. - AB 23 X 2013. This was removed.]

Read more on the KHS News Page.

[For detailed information go to the KHS Carlton Reach Pump Engine RESEARCH page.] 

Presented by the Kununurra Historical Society – Department of Agriculture & Food WA & supported by the Kimberley Society

Weekend of 24 to 26 June 2016 - A Great Success!

On the weekend of June 24th to 26th 2016, we commemorated this history with various events that opened on the night of Friday June 24th with a KHS version of the 1946 Rosewood Station film with embedded history images and a documentary film, “On the Banks of the Ord” made by Kevin Richards.

 These were shown on the big screen at the Kununurra Picture Gardens. The following morning (Saturday June 25th) started at the original Carlton Reach – 'Ord River Experimental Farm' site @lias Lake Kununurra Golf Club, with an opening address by Matthew Durack (the son of Bill Durack, who had worked with his brother, Kim Durack at Carlton Reach 1942-1944). 

[Photograph - 1957 - Kimberley Michael Durack (1917-1968) - Taken at Camballin, West Kimberley 1957 - KHS-2010-43-P-BD - Carlton Reach 1941 Display - This KHS Archive was part of displays originally made for the conference '50 Years of Ord Irrigation - Reviews & Future Perspectives' in 1991, now on display at the Kununurra Museum.]

The group of 40 to 50 people at the history forum then drove out to the former Kimberley Research Station site, now Department of Agriculture WA - Kununurra HQ, where the rest of the day was spent with tours and talks covering from the earliest history through to the future directions of Ord Irrigation. On Sunday there was a tag-along tour to see graves near old Ivanhoe station, then back to town to take a look at some of the fascinating history in the Kununurra Museum and KHS Archive, at an Open Day. All events were well attended and from far and wide, came members of the Durack family, who made up almost half of those who attended. [Read more about the forum weekend on the Events page.]   

July 20th 2013 - 50th Year Commemorations

The Official Opening of Ord Stage I and the Ord River Diversion Dam took place at a Ceremony on July 20th 1963 - On that date in 2013 (this week), Engineering Heritage WA along with support from the Water Corporation of Western Australia, will unveil a new interpretive panel at the Kununurra Swim Beach, about the Ord River Diversion Dam, with some images and the history supplied by KHS. This will incorporate a lunch for invited guests and a tour of inspection over the Ord River Diversion Dam, which is normally closed to pedestrians. Later in the day from 2pm the Kununurra Museum will be open for the visiting pioneer engineers, VIPs and guests.

Kununurra Museum - YouTube Channel

On March 17th 2013 - Saint Patrick's Day, to commemorate the day 50 years ago that the Royal Tour landed at Kununurra, KHS held an Open Day (10am to 4pm), but if you didn't join us at the Museum, you can still be a part of it. The Kununurra Museum has now made accessible to all!, three 8mm films, shot by three photographers (Henskens, O'Brien and Revell), edited into a Digital Video (in 2 parts) as our first YouTube videos, to the NEW  Kununurra Museum YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/KununurraMuseum

You can also see some research on the RAAF Convair aircraft A96-353, that carried the Royal Tour party to Kununurra, from the KHS Research page.

KHS Inaugurated 1986 

The Kununurra Historical Society was inaugurated on June 5th 1986, as an archive for regional history, which, with your volunteered help and your histories, can continue to be an archive and museum, for interpreting the Ord's development though this history, which is of Regional, State and National "Significance," for present and future visitors and communities in Kununurra.

Carlton Reach Pump Engine Donated to KHS

The Department of Agriculture and Food WA - Frank Wise Institute (of Tropical Agriculture - formerly Kimberley Research Station - KRS), have donated the original Carlton Reach Pump Engine, a 36HP "Petters Atomic Diesel Engine," to the Kununurra Historical Society. KHS member volunteers hope to install the engine by the Kununurra Museum entrance gate. Read more in KHS News - Carlton Reach Petters Engine Donated to Kununurra Museum and on the Carlton Reach Pump Engine page.

KHS Digital Archive

See over 2,900 photographs that have been digitised and documented by dedicated KHS volunteers.

Read more about KHS on Flickr (here on this site : ) for an overview of the best ways to view the archive images on the Flickr site.

See the KHS Digital Archive - Images Online as Slideshows or view groups of photographs as KHS Collections or KHS Subject Themes

or all KHS - Social (Networks :^) 

 OR View KHS Collections

(As Embedded Slideshows)

KHS Collections

Latest Images uploaded to Flickr


KHS Web Presence Profile

Flickr Profile

View the "KHS Flickr Profile for more detail on our digitisation program and the KHS Flickr site in general. OR for some tips about now best to view in the many and varied ways available, see KHS on Flickr (here on this site).

Hope you enjoy these KHS experiments in "Accessibility" to KHS archival material.

Gazetting of Kununurra 1961

From the Government Gazette February 10th 1961

February 10th 1961 - Township of Kununurra

Resumption of Ivanhoe Station Land

Town of Kununurra Declaration February 10th 1961

This image has been published with the permission of the State of Western Australia.

[Also see below for an extract from the Government Gazette]

Department of Lands and Surveys – Files – General, ‘Kununurra. Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley.’

(WAS 211, cons. 4489, SROWA)

This image was provided to KHS by the State Records Office of Western Australia, www.sro.wa.gov.au

KHS Archive No. KHS-2011-13-WA-SRO-Collection-WA-SRO-cons4489_1959_2811_2

Vale William Arthur Champness (Bill) Wright

An Honorary Life Member of the Kununurra Historical Society passed away on Christmas eve 2013. To celebrate the life of William Arthur Champness Wright, we hope you enjoy here a slideshow of Bill's 35mm slide collection. KHS was also fortunate enough to have recorded an oral history and had some great interaction with Bill, especially during the last two or three years. The Oral History and this slide collection are in the same archive - KHS-2011-46-P-A-OH-BD - Bill Wright Oral History and 35mm Slide Collection. [P=Photographic, A=Audio, OH=Oral History, BD=Born Digital]

[Use the four cornered gadget at lower right to go fullscreen. Once in fullscreen mode use "Show Info" at top right for detailed information on each slide.]

Thanks for Visiting Kununurra Historical Society

Archive, Library, Museum & Research

Kimberley History Site. Please come back again!

Wirraway-Challenge Day - March 20th

 On this day - March 20th - in 1942 a Royal Australian Air Force 12 Squadron Wirraway A20-62, flying from Batchelor, Northern Territory, Australia, to Wyndham WA force-landed on coastal saltmarsh near the WA-NT border - just inside WA.  Within a week of finding this in 2004 we were able to contact the pilot, living at Taylor's Beach in Queensland.  An oral history was recorded with Lew Dwyer, which you can hear in Part 5 of 8 part DV on the Kununurra Museum YouTube 'Cinema' (play from linked video below) or see all parts at this website on the Wirraway-Challenge - Display Page (Did you know that Wirraway means Challenge! :^)

  It is hard to believe that in 2024 it will be 20 years years since we got in contact with the pilot of RAAF 12 Squadron  CAC Wirraway, A20-62, Flight Sergeant Lex Cameron "Lew" Dwyer.  We got Lew to Kununurra to open the 'Wirraway-Challenge' Display on March 20th 2005 - See that in one of the 8 parts of the DVs - "Opening the Display."  You can see in the DV the museum has only the low glass cabinets and the Swing Wing Panels, so this was the first major display in the museum, with the "Wirraway-Challenge" Display, which was opened the same day they came down, on March 20th 1942, but 63 years later on March 20th 2005.  The museum opened with Federation funding in 2001.

His friend and co-pilot, Flight Sergeant, Warwick Carmody, joined us by phone from hospital that day in 2005.  Warwick Carmody provided us some great photographs and information and after WWII he would become the Town Clerk of Bunbury.

  A story of survival and rescue of two RAAF pilots by Aboriginal stockmen from Carlton Hill station - When war came to the Kimberley (this was just a month after Darwin was first attacked).

See the 8 part digital video at our YouTube 'Cinema' and read more from our website link Wirraway-Challenge  or 

If you get to the East Kimberley Region come in to the Kununurra Museum to see the "Wirraway-Challenge" exhibits and to soak up some incredible Kimberley History.

Part 5 of 8 - Wirraway A20-62 Forced-Landing (The Main Story) - 29 min.