Making a living off the land
Opening up the land
Whitewells Station plan
Eucalyptus oil
Shepherds to sheep stations
Fencing the hay paddock
Making hay

The Whitewells Station plan

The separate leases which previously constituted Whitewells Station were consolidated into the single Pastoral Lease 3114/ 529 under the 1964 amendments to the Land Act 1933. 'Whitewells' became the ‘approved name’. The new lease was not actually issued until 8th August 1966, for a period of '48 years 10 months 24 days'. All pastoral leases in Western Australia were consolidated and given new leasesat the same time, hence the delay. The ‘Ninghan’ in the map title refers to the lease being in the Ninghan Land District.

The plan shows ‘improvements’ up to 1979 . These base plans were used by the Pastoral Appraisement Board to record and check on the fencing, wells, tracks, yards and other ‘improvements’ pastoralists were required to make on the property.

Such plans were printed at a scale of One Mile to an Inch (1:63,360 ), but on adoption of metrics in Australia in the 1960s they became 1:100,000 (a centimetre to a kilometre).

The fenced, cleared paddocks once cropped with hay can be seen at the homestead.

The Wanarra East Road is shown as ‘Perenjori – Mt Gibson Road’. This is the only public road on the property. Many tracks are shown, but most of these are now abandoned and closed.

 The lease boundary marked in heavy ink does not match the fenced boundary except for the southern half of the east boundary fence. This is common for pastoral stations. Leases are not surveyed and fences were built where the terrain dictated or where windmills could be shared across the fence, and other management practicalities. The records of the Whitewells lease note several disagreements with incoming neighbours who were not party to original informal agreements.

The section of the north boundary which runs past Good Friday and Pidgeon Rock Wells was further north in the first lease, issued in 1919 to Finlason and McCarthy. It was changed by agreement between the neighbours and with the approval of the Minister for Lands to allow those wells to be shared with Wanarra Station. Quandong Well also became a boundary well, allowing Whitewells to graze a productive area between Quandong and Monger Wells.

Development of the lease was confined mainly to the north and east of the homestead. The south is mostly dense sandy shrubland (the Joseph land system) with small patches of wooded breakaway country (Euchre land systems) and little water. Smith Well and St Joseph Well both failed. In 1941 T.E. Barr Smith, who operated Whitewells as part of Ninghan Station, surrendered this part of the lease.

East of the homestead a wide valley of York gum woodlands (the Pindar land system) and mixed native pine (Callitris) and York gum (the Yowie land system) offered reasonable grazing. These areas were watered by Brown and Breakaway Well. This country drains into an arm of Mongers Lake (the Carnegie land system) which had good grazing, watered by Monger Well. The open acacia shrublands of the north east (Bannar land system) were watered by Seven Mile, Easter Monday and Granite wells and the mixed shrublands of the hills in the north (such as Rainbow and Moriarty) were watered by Christmas, Dowdsfolly, Robb, Good Friday and Pigeon wells. These are the auriferous greenstone hills of the Retaliation goldfield.

Whitewells Station was rarely viable on its own as a pastoral property. Since 1957 it has never carried more than 3,800 sheep, and fewer than 2,000 sheep are grazed in the periodic droughts. The Economic Carrying Capacity (E.C.C.) as assessed by the Pastoral Appraisement Board was set at 1 sheep per 12.14 hectares in 1977, requiring the lessee to carry 5,655 ‘small stock units’ (ss). This demanded more intensive development of the property which could never be achieved because of the lack of water in the south. Destocking was approved by the Board in several drought years.

The plan shows the dividing line between the administrative land divisions of the north-west and the south-west of Western Australia. Straddling the line has been of no account in the history of the station. Of more consequence was the construction of the Emu Proof Fence in 1981 which isolated the north-west corner of the station, but provided some barrier to feral goats.

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