Sunday History Photo / WA

Submitted: Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 04:29
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The town of Toodyay is located 85km north-east of Perth and is situated on the Avon River. The first Europeans to explore the area were Ensign Dale and a small party from the Swan River Colony who were in search of fertile land for new settlers. Settlers having arrived at the Swan River Colony in 1829 soon discovered that the fertile land that Lieutenant Governor Stirling had promised, was not to be found. With disgruntled settlers leaving, pressure was placed on the Colony to find land suitable for farming. In 1830, Ensign Dale's expedition found a way over the rugged hills of the Darling Ranges and found a river that Dale named "The Avon" and a grassy valley he called the "Avon Valley".

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The Avon Valley would become the main agricultural and pastoral region up until the turn of the century. In 1836 the original townsite "Old Toodyay" was founded by a group of settlers including James Drummond Senior, Captain Francis Whitfield and Alexander Anderson. Having climbed over the Darling Range at Red Hill and establishing a new route to the Avon Valley via Jimperding they named a site, Toodyay, on a bend on the Avon River (near the present West Toodyay Bridge). Prior to this Europeans entered the Avon Valley via York and Northam. Unfortunately the Old Toodyay townsite was situated in an area prone to flooding. In 1861 a new town, Newcastle, was gazetted about five kms upstream, marking the decline of Old Toodyay, as many moved to the new and safer town. Newcastle's name was later changed to Toodyay, in 1911, after complaints were made over the mail confusion with Newcastle, in New South Wales. The town of Toodyay grew and still grows from the agricultural activities of the early settlers such as sheep, cattle, wheat, barley, vines and beekeeping. The population of Toodyay today is approximately 3,800.

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The infamous bushranger, Moondyne Joe (Joseph Bolitho Johns) roamed the hills around Toodyay in the 1860's and the town now celebrates his exploits with the Moondyne festival each spring.
This is the only known photograph of Joseph Bolitho Johns, better known as the Western Australian bushranger Moondyne Joe. It depicts Johns holding a tomahawk and wearing a kangaroo skin cape.

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This original photograph was taken by Alfred Chopin. It was first published in The Sunday Times on 27 May 1924, as an illustration accompanying an article on Moondyne Joe by Charles William Ferguson. The original photograph somehow ended up in the hands of Norman Featherstone of Lesmurdie, Western Australia, who held on to it until his death in 1980. He had asked a friend, June Bailey, to destroy his collection of photographs after his death, but Bailey reneged. She held the photograph from 1980 until 1998, when she heard of the impending publication of a second edition of Ian Elliott's Moondyne Joe: The Man and the Myth. She then gave it to Elliott, and Elliott used it to grace the cover of his book.
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Reply By: Member - Geoff the chef (NSW)M - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 06:47

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 06:47
Another good read ..... as usual.
thanks Doug.
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Reply By: Member - Phil B (WA) - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 06:58

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 06:58
Great article as usual Doug.

Moondyne was probably more of a loveable rogue than a bush ranger.

He famously escaped from Fremantle prison.
Joe was given daily exercise breaking stones in a Prison yard near the perimeter wall; the broken rock; slowly the pile of rock grew so that it obscured him as he worked. At 5 pm on March 7 when the guards checked, Joe had cut a hole through the west wall at the front of the Prison.

On another occasion after an escape he was captured hiding in the wine cellar of Houghton's vineyard. Incidentally Houghtons still operates today.

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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 07:47

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 07:47
Ys I did read that too, there's another story in Moondye Joe alone but the focus was mainly on Toodyay, and of course we won't forget the tragic loss of Peter Brock near Toodyay.

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Reply By: Member - Bucky - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:08

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 09:08
Thanks Doug
A great article.

If you were to drop into the Caravan Park there you might run into a Mate of mine ,,,Adam BartXXXxxxxxXXXXxxxx.........who has ben there for approx 2 years.
One of the most genuine person I have ever meet.
That is, in between trips to Perth, to catch up with crew.


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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 12:51

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 12:51
Went through Toodyay this week. The town looked great, the district though looked very ordinary following the prolonged drought.
When it does rain I hope it's gentle, isn't much vegetation to slow the runoff from the surrounding steep hills.
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Follow Up By: landseka - Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 15:55

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 15:55
Not to mention the terrible fires that devastated much of the area in December 2009.

Photos here.
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