A salute to hard times at Margaret River’s Old Settlement

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Mural artist Jacob Butler travelled from Perth for the Old Settlement job.
Camera IconMural artist Jacob Butler travelled from Perth for the Old Settlement job.

The Margaret River and Districts Historical Society has unveiled a stunning new mural in the Old Settlement as the region prepares to celebrate 100 years since group settlement.

Professional Perth mural artist Jacob Butler was hired to produce the mural, which runs across the sheds at the reconstructed historic village next to the Margaret River.

“Consulting with Viv Halsall and the historians, we decided to have the mural serve to give a glimpse into life of early settlement by highlighting the key industries, dairy and timber, as well as a depiction of home life by recreating a photograph of a lady out the front of a humpy with her son,” Butler said.

“All of the scenes are referencing original photographs supplied by the historical society and painted using a combination of aerosol and brush. The corrugations were a particularly challenging surface, but a great backdrop for the mural as the rusted, imperfect and faded textures of the tin complemented the depictions of the harsh and tough times of early settlement.”

Butler said it took a week to complete the work because of intermittent rain.

Group settlement was a scheme introduced by WA premier James Mitchell in association with the British Government to develop the South West and its dairy industry. Many of those who migrated to the region endured incredible hardship, with few prepared for the realities of harsh life on what was then still considered the frontier.

Historical society president Viv Halsall said there were plans for a major commemoration of the centenary next March. “Group settlement is more than a story, it is one of human endeavour of people, the like of which you never saw before, nor have seen since and will never see again,” she said.

“The groups had to clear a certain amount of land before a group house could be constructed, with all the men in the group allocated acreage, and all helped clear each other’s paddocks, with a foreman in charge.

“Imagine the daunting task of felling karri and jarrah trees with only an axe, gelignite and hand saws, with many settlers not having any farming background of how to use the equipment, let alone be a farmer.”

Ms Halsall said many of the region’s residents were “proud” of their Group Settlement heritage.

For more information, visit the Old Settlement or www.mrdhs.com.au.

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