A short history of Donnelly Village
Donnelly River Mill Townsite is located 37.5km south-east of the town of Nannup in the south west region of Western Australia and is best known for ‘The Giant Karri’ felled, transported to Kings Parks and installed on 25 June 1958.
Timber milling has been an integral part of the village, starting in 1909 when Thomas and William Wheatley purchased a small fruit-case cutting mill on the Donnelly River and operated Wheatley Mill until 1912.
Bunning Brothers took over the Wheatley Mill, now classified as State Forest, during the post-World War II building boom. Pegging out of the Donnelly River Mill and Townsite commenced on 25 April 1948 with the first log cut at the mill on 13 September 1950, and the official opening was held on 24 April 1951 by the Acting Premier, A F Watts MLA. The mill closed on 30 June 1978.
A timber milling village was built on Crown Land to house the workers and their families. The village consisted of 35 workers’ cottages, the Mill Club (the first club to allow women), boarding house, general store, butcher’s shop, first aid post (the Clinic), school, sports oval and swimming dam. During this period single men’s huts and temporary housing for migrant workers were also built, the latter no longer standing. The mill workers, their wives and children formed a tight knit community. The workforce at its peak reached a maximum of about 150 in 1965.
Most of the structures now seen in and around Donnelly Village are remnants of the physical infrastructure required to support a large, steam driven timber mill.
(extract from Wheatley Village Pty Ltd Conservation Plan)
The village is Heritage Listed and is currently owned by Wheatley Village Pty Ltd on behalf of the Wheatley Unit Trust and provides tourist accommodation in the original, renovated workers cottages – see www.donnellyriver.com.au
The Trust is owned by 35 separate Unit Holders with each having the responsibility to care for one of the cottages.
The current owners won a State Heritage Award in the ‘Public or Private Organisation’ category in 2016 that recognises the work of the current owners in conserving the township based on a formal Conservation Plan. Details of the award on this link