From 1901 the development and maintenance of roads in Mingenew, Three
Springs, Carnamah and Coorow was administered by the Upper Irwin Road Board in
Mingenew. The board was initially made up of several Mingenew men who
met once a month to decide how they should spend the rates paid by
landowners. The primary concern of the board was the main
Perth-Geraldton Road and the crossing over the top of the Yarra Yarra
Lakes. People establishing farms out in the bush would request and
petition for new roads to be surveyed so they could be connected to the
outside world. Carnamah had no representation until 1910 when
was elected to the board.
“Mr P. O’Halloran of Mingenew has been viewing the Carnamah country
with Donald Macpherson, and as Mr O’Halloran is chairman of the
Upper Irwin Road Board it’s safe to say that Mac drove into every
hole and boulder about the district, and that a fair sum of money
will be allotted to Carnamah roads when Chairman Pat gets his Road
Board members together again.”
-- The Moora Herald newspaper
Ballot Box used in Carnamah
for Road Board elections
People interested in representing their community could nominate to
serve on the Road Board and elections were then held to decide the
As Carnamah's population increased the community had more votes and
was able to elect more local members to the Road Board at Mingenew.
Carnamah farmers Donald Macpherson
Arthur G. Darling
were all serving on the board by 1921.
Right: Carnamah farmer John Bowman
"He became an ardent fighter for the establishment of a road
board at Carnamah, and there would not be a Road Board at Carnamah
now if it had not been for John Bowman."
-- James K. Forrester
The Carnamah District Road Board was gazetted on 24 August 1923 and
roughly encompassed the present-day districts of Coorow, Carnamah
and Three Springs.
Above: Road Board Offices
The Carnamah District Road Board's first office was a room
rented from the Midland Railway Company
at the Carnamah Railway Station.
In 1926 stone offices, shown above,
were built onto the front of the Carnamah Hall. These were used
until 1962 when they were demolished to make way for a new and
Left: Plaque from Road Board Offices
Right: Mrs Kate McIntosh's
Sulky Number Plate
Local vehicles, which included those pulled by horses, had to be
licensed with the Road Board and then received number plates containing CA for Carnamah.
In addition to roads, the board was also responsible for controlling vermin.
For a number of
years the board paid a "Vermin Bonus" for anyone who
fox, dingo or eagle. Rabbits were controlled by the compulsory
laying of poison baits once a year. Baits were also laid to kill
grasshoppers in the great plague of 1937.
It was a requirement
that pet and farm dogs be registered and wear a tag so they could be
distinguished from strays and dingoes. The dog
tag to the left, which is about two centimetres wide, was
found in the dirt on a Carnamah farm in the mid 1990s.
Gilbert H. Glaskin
was the second secretary of the Road Board. His
employment came to an abrupt and dramatic end in June 1927 when an
auditor discovered that he had stolen over £400. He was immediately
dismissed and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Above: Carnamah District Road Board in 1933
Following the formation of the Three Springs Road Board in 1928 the
Carnamah District Road Board shrank in size.
Standing in the above photo from left to right are
Winchester, Bob Wells
of Carnamah. Seated are
of Carnamah (chairman) and
Left: Board Room Chair (also in the above photo)
"I was the chairman. Arnold Bierman was the secretary. We were a
happy family and we looked forward to the monthly meetings. McGilp
from Coorow was the Deputy Chairman. He was down to earth – very
common sense. He had a big property at Coorow. At one stage we were
the lowest rated Road Board in WA. We did get some money by getting
contracts from Main Roads Department. Tom Paterson was the young Foreman.
We did the road to Sivyer’s corner. This earned £1,000 and it
enabled us to buy a grader. A contract at Winchester also gave us
about £1,000. This enabled us to buy a truck."
-- James K.
During the early years of the Road Board the clearing and forming of
outsourced to contractors, who were often local farmers.
Prior to the availability of road-making machinery all of the work was
done with axes and shovels. Once the Road Board was more established,
it employed two road gangs which worked in Carnamah and Coorow. The
arrival of the first grader revolutionised productivity.
Arnold C. Bierman
was secretary of the Road Board for 30 years, from 1927 until
1957. With assistance from his wife he undertook all of the Road Board's
administration, correspondence, minutes and accounts.
Right: Inkwell and Nib Pen
This glass inkwell was used by Arnold at the Road Board's offices.
Small jars of ink sat in the compartments of the inkwell and when
anything needed to be written the nib pen was dipped into one of the
jars to wet its blade with ink.
Right: Coronation Medal
The Road Board helped provide health services, assisted local
organisations with sport and recreational facilities, and looked
after community halls. The board employed a
sanitary and rubbish collector for the Carnamah townsite from 1927, and
during the same year opened the Winchester Cemetery
The board had a hall built at East Marchagee in 1933, and in
1938 opened a freshwater swimming pool at Gunyidi.
In 1937 the Road Board purchased 500 coronation medals to present to
children throughout the Road Board district. The
medals were to celebrate the coronation of George VI as King of the United Kingdom and
the British Commonwealth.
Above: Bitumenising of Macpherson Street, Carnamah in 1937
All roads and streets throughout the district were either dirt or
gravel. After three years of consideration Macpherson Street was the
first to be bitumenised in 1937. Other streets and major roads were
slowly bitumenised over many years. With the establishment of farms at
Eneabba in the 1950s the Road Board then had a whole new network of
roads that needed to be cleared and developed.
Below: Proposed Plans for New Recreation Reserve in Carnamah in
Road Board to Shire
In 1961 the WA Government made changes to state legislation that
resulted in the Carnamah District Road Board becoming the Carnamah
Shire Council. There were then councillors rather than board
members, and a president instead of a chairman. The secretary became
known as the shire clerk, and later still as the chief executive
In 1962 the shire was split in two with the southern half breaking
away to become the Shire of Coorow. Both shires extend to the coast
of the Indian Ocean.
Below: Collecting the Keys for the Shire's three new
Ford Trucks in 1966
Positive Change of Time
In 1981 Lila Flegg took the bold step of nominating for council
despite no woman having ever done so in the past. She was
unsuccessful but had set the wheels of change in motion. The
following year, in 1982, Ruth White nominated and was elected. Ruth was the first female
councillor and went onto became the first female president in 1988.
Right: Road Board Clock
This large clock had been donated by Robert Mackie in 1927 and
initially hung in a brass case above the front door of the original
Road Board offices. Following restoration the clock was hung inside
the Shire of Carnamah's new chambers, pictured below.
Local government has grown and evolved to care for a lot more than
roads. In its present strategic plan the Shire of Carnamah is aiming
to foster the environment and economy while delivering on local
services, educational facilities, town beautification, tourism, aged
services, sports, recreation, culture and the arts. Numberplates on
local vehicles still contain CA for Carnamah.