Little is known of the history of the Balingup area pre European settlement , other than that the name ”Balingup” is an alleged corruption of an Aboriginal name – Balingan, a noted Noongar warrior said to have been born in the district. The name was first recorded by a government surveyor in 1850.
The first European explorers traversed the area in 1842 on an expedition to find an overland route from Albany on the South Coast to Vasse on the West Coast. The expedition came across the Blackwood River at Southampton and Wrights Bridge.
The Balingup District was first settled by Europeans in 1854 when Richard Jones took up 10 acres and built a mud brick homestead naming it ”Southampton”. This holding prospered to grow to 28,000 acres by the turn of the 20th century. Sadly Southampton homestead was razed in a bush fire in 2013 however rebuilding has begun.
In 1859 Walter Padbury took up a 40,000 acre Pastoral Lease which included the Ferndale and Brooklands localities. The historic homestead Ferndale (1859) still stands on the Nannup Road. Other early homesteads in the region that are still occupied are Golden Valley (1880-1904), Blackwood Inn (1864). Balingup was declared a township in 1898 and is now part of the Donnybrook Balingup Shire.
The orchard industry became established in Balingup in 1895 when a Swiss nurseryman named Jacob Hawter established what was at the time, the largest orchard in the State. He also created the first purpose built cool store in the state.
Tin mining commenced in 1888 in nearby Greenbushes which is recognised as the longest continuously operated mining area in Western Australia.
Progressive farming methods and the introduction of improved pastures, superphosphate and subterranean clover saw dairy farming become the major rural industry in the district and in 1933 a cheese factory was established. However the lack of land suitable for irrigation eventually caused the dairy farms to become uncompetitive, the factory closed in 1977; later to open as an Art and craft centre.
The dairy cows have been replaced by beef cattle in the Donnybrook – Balingup Shire. The region produces a wide variety of vegetables alongside vineyards and orchards protected by native forests and tree plantations.
Tourism is an important industry for the Balingup district with festivals and events drawing thousands of visitors to the area each year. Visitors to Balingup enjoy the beautiful scenery and friendly atmosphere of this quaint town year round.
Visitor will find many traces of our history and much to interest them, around the town and throughout the district. Discover more about the history of the district.
Balingup Historical Exhibition
Located in the Packing Shed, South West Highway, Balingup
Open Daily 10am – 4 pm
Balingup Ghost Walks
The main feature that Balingup events have in common is their quirkiness, and the Balingup Ghost Walk is no exception. Despite the title, the event does not revolve around a bunch of locals dressed in white, jumping out from behind trees. Many of the ghost characters can be found on the walls of the Balingup Heritage Museum and local residents “bring them to life”; telling their stories in an interactive and novel way.
The ghosts recount the true stories of pioneers – people who cleared the land and fought for their country. To watch a local “get into character” and share the story of a soldier who survived Gallipoli can be a surprisingly emotional experience.
The walks are laced with some good old “Aussie” humour – making this a great family experience and kids love it! The route taken is around 2km long and is mainly flat but good walking shoes are required.