Main Road to Bunbury
The main overland route from the Swan River colony to the Leschenault (Bunbury) passed through Pinjarra as there was less rivers to cross and as the river crossing in Peel Town (Mandurah) was considered too dangerous. The trail was cut by Lieutenant Henry Bunbury, officer in charge of the Pinjarra Military Barracks from 1836 and is said to have largely followed existing Aboriginal tracks.
Pinjarra was surveyed late 1836 and broken up into town lots. The take up of property was slow; however, by the early 1840s there was a population large enough to need a bridge over the Murray.
History of the Five Bridges
- The first bridge was close to being finished when it was washed away in the winter floods of 1840. Works were undertaken by colonial soldiers under the supervision of prominent settler Francis C. Singleton.
- The second bridge was more successful, being finished in 1842 by John McLarty of Blythewood. Though in 1847 the river flooded again and took the bridge with it.
- Pinjarra had to wait a few years before a replacement due to arguments about funding from a cash strapped colonial administration. Bridge number three was built by convicts in 1853. The bridge was extensively damaged in the 1862 flood, but was repaired.
- The winter flood of 1895 undermined the bridge piles and a decision was made to replace it with a fourth bridge in 1897
- The current bridge was constructed in 1954 after the involvement of Premier, Sir Ross McLarty (of Edenvale). The bridge is built on land resumed from the St. John’s Churchyard, with part of the southern approach still containing the graves of early settlers. The gravestones of Jane Thorpe, William Beacham, James Joseph Beacham and Oscar Charlesworth stand next to the church building.
St John’s Churchyard