by Margaret Vinci
Updated: 5 May 2022

In March 1830, during the earliest days of European settlement in Western Australia and before the development of Australind, the then Lieutenant-Governor James Stirling selected land for the main townsite of the District of Wellington, 16 kilometers up the Collie River from its mouth at the Leschenault Inlet.

We ascended with the Governor 9 Miles up the Collie as far as the boats could go (the lower land of which is not very good) when we stopped & dined. The land we saw was very good & the Governor proposes to lay out a Town there.

James Henty, Journey South on the Eagle, March 20, 1830

The land selected was 2000 acres in size and Stirling chose for its name, Waterloo after the 1815 Battle in Belgium. The land spanned the river with about one third on the northern side. The proposed township didn’t develop at this time. The survey was cancelled in the 1860s and the land opened up again for selection by settlers.

Map showing 1830s land grants and proposed Waterloo townsite on the Collie River. Grant cancelled in 1860s.
Terence Hynes

In 1886, Terence Hynes took up 1000 acres of land at Waterloo (Location No. 669) to begin farming. It was around this area that a small rural community named Waterloo eventually developed. Terence Hynes built a split jarrah hut with an iron roof and clay floor on this land.

At the age of 47, Terence married Mary Catherine (Kate) Dunne of Australind in 1897 and moved into Fir Park, the new home he had built 400 metres from the first hut.

Other settler surnames in Waterloo include Shivers, Coonan, Maguire, Craigie, Harris, Delmarco,  Tyrrell, Clifton, Giumelli, Depiazzzi, Edwards, Resta, Valli, Belcher, Jeffrey, Shanan, Manoni, Barbetti, Pedretti and Bell.

In 1897 the first Waterloo Hall was built. The opening dinner dance in 1898 was a great occasion, the new hall lit by oil lamps.

1897 – Opening of the first Waterloo Hall. Seated (left to right) J Jeffrey, Mr Coplestone, T Jeffrey, T Hayward – MLA, W H Venn – Com. of Railways, E Clarke – MLC, T Busher, Henry Clarke, J Forrest, T Coonan, T Hynes, J G Baldock. Back (standing left to right) Misses J & B Shivers, L Delmarco, Mr A Bales, Mr Depiazzi, H Shivers, T Tyrrell (senior), J Hough, Y Clifton, Mr Nuget, C Clifton, M Shivers, W Tyrrell, R Clifton, Mr Reading, C Tyrrell, H Robinson, T Tyrrell, Mr Curton, Mr Larkins, J Wellard, W Harris, F Tyrrell, J Jeffrey, Mr Shannon, D Giumelli, A Shivers

Nyoongar people worked with local farmers who remember their meeting ground in Waterloo on the edge of the Big Swamp, now an industrial site. Nyoongars feasted on swan, pelican, ducks and kangaroos and trapped fish and gilgies in Millar’s Creek, trading for meat, vegetables and fruit.

Waterloo’s first Post Office was housed in a 2m x 2m weatherboard hut. When the first hall was built, the Post Office was transferred to a small room at the back of the hall. The Postmaster, Mr Siggs, lived on site. He would meet the train at the nearby Station to collect and dispatch mail. A telephone exchange was also later installed. This hall burnt down in May 1946, after a log fell from the fire in Mr Siggs’ room. He was injured in the fire. The Post Office and telephone exchange were later transferred to the General Store next door.

The first Waterloo Hall with Post Office and telephone box. Mr Siggs is the Postmaster

The Waterloo Railway Station was located behind the Hall, General Store and what is now the Fire Shed area. Beside the Station was a goods shed, which later burned down, and a little hut for the Station Master, Mr Thomas Catt, to live in. Mr Catt would meet each train to exchange batons. If the train didn’t stop, the engine driver would drop the baton to the ground and Mr Catt would hand up the outgoing baton to the driver. If they missed, the train would have to stop.

The goods shed was also used for morning and afternoon teas on cattle sale day. The station provided a focal point of the Waterloo community; transporting goods, people and livestock. The existence of the station supported businesses in the townsite including the post office/general store and the sale yards.

The Waterloo Race Track and Race Club started at Tyrrell’s farm. ‘Brumby’ race meetings occurred annually on New Year’s Day with 1906 being the first registered event. In that year, eight races were held, with the first race being the Brush Hurdles. The main event was the New Year Gift with first place receiving 10 pounds. The race meetings were a major social event for the district with bookmakers coming out from Bunbury and residents of the district gathering for the day.

The racetrack later moved across Waterloo/Dardanup Road to behind the headmaster’s house. A racetrack drawn on plans for the Waterloo Recreation Ground was never constructed, however, the races held at the Waterloo/ Dardanup Road location were a huge success with people coming from Bunbury, Perth and many other places.

The Waterloo Recreation Grounds included tennis Courts, for weekly tennis games, a cricket pitch that can still be seen and an oval used by school and sports day. Other small schools besides Waterloo would gather and compete. The tennis courts were relocated to near South Western Highway in early 1960. The Recreation Grounds was used for a variety of sporting and social purposes and was an important meeting point for community members.

The Waterloo Catholic Church was originally St Matthews Church at Wellington Mills. It had been built there and opened in 1903 when the Mill town was home to between 800 and 1000 people. The large mill closed in September 1919 and the population rapidly declined as did the congregation. The church was dismantled in 1924 and transported to Waterloo where it was rebuilt by Mr Potter, a carpenter from Wellington Mills, on land donated by Terence Hynes, opposite Wireless Road. The bell that can be seen in front of the building was unique as it had a very clear ring. It is believed to be now somewhere in Dardanup or Boyanup.

Opening of St Matthews Church at Waterloo in 1924, after it was relocated from Wellington Mills

By the late 1960’s the close proximity of churches at Bunbury and Boyanup made the provision of services impractical. The building gradually became unsafe and was pulled down by tractor by L A Hynes in May 1968.

Waterloo State School was built in 1926. Prior to this, Terence Hynes taught local children basic lessons at Fir Park. As more people settled in Waterloo, a small house was built on the corner of the South West Highway and the Waterloo-Dardanup Road and children were taught there. This building became the headmaster’s home after a separate school building was built.

The former school was a one-roomed, timber framed weatherboard and corrugated iron building designed by the Public Works Department. It included a high pitched gable roof, timber weatherboards, high brick chimney and protected verandah area as well as a group of large vertical windows to offer good natural light to the students. The school featured an open fireplace and porch. Toilets for boys and girls were out the back. A shelter shed and playground were also built behind the school building and the school had a small garden.

1954 – Waterloo School students

Standard designs for these schools were developed over time by the Public Works Department and variations to the standard design are demonstrated in other existing school buildings of the period around the metropolitan
and regions. Many of these types of school buildings were easily transportable and so were relocated to respond to need and demand. Waterloo State School closed in 1971 when students from Ferguson, Wellington Mills, Dardanup and Waterloo all merged to form Dardanup Primary School in Hayward St, Dardanup.

Waterloo School students – likely 1971, the final year for this school

The Post Office, General Store and Telephone Exchange, housed in the one building, served an important function in the early years of Waterloo and were a hub of activity for the community. Post was delivered and sent via the train services which would stop at the nearby station.

In 1943, during World War II, a one thousand acres of land on the Waterloo – Dardanup Road, across Wild Rose Road, became home to a hard-working group of Land Army girls (all volunteers) when demand for fresh and canned vegetables for the Australian and Allied fighting forces greatly increased. The farm was set up by Plaistowes. See more on the Waterloo Land Army Girls.

During the war an Air Observatory hut was also erected at the Perth end of Clifton Road. Locals took turns on the duty roster working in shifts as spotters. When the site was deemed unsuitable it changed to Edwards Farm and Matilda Edwards was the main observer until Roger Edwards left the Army and took over.

The cattle yards at Waterloo were built in 1945 by Victor and Jim Depiazzi adjacent to the railway and south of where the fire brigade shed now stands. The yards were constructed entirely of timber, including timber gates. The agents operating at the time were Elders, Dalgetys, Goldsborough Mort and Wesfarmers. The sale yards became a meeting place for most men in the community each month. Ladies from the CWA served light lunches and drinks from an old railway building opposite the original goods shed (which later burned down). The cattle yards and station ceased operating in 1965 and were later demolished.

Calligaros  bought land from the Edwards family after World War II and established a successful brick-making business along Railway Road. Waterloo was noted for clay, excellent for brick-making and there were several sites over the years.

The opening of the second Waterloo Hall in 1952

Waterloo’s second hall was built in 1951 and completed in 1952. It was a brick and iron construction with jarrah floorboards. The new hall took a year to construct and was opened on 11 July 1952. It cost £5470. Three hundred locals attended the opening Dinner Dance. The Women’s Committee raised £185, by cooking and serving afternoon teas at stock sales. This money was used to buy a piano, crockery and cutlery.

Waterloo was a very sociable place and people would come from miles around to attend dances, balls, parties and card nights, badminton and table tennis and of course the annual Guy Fawkes night. The Christmas concert and party, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and church services were among the hall’s many uses. The supper room was also used as a classroom for Years 1, 2 and 3 for many years.

The Waterloo Uniting Church was built in 1956 and was originally a Methodist Church to service the large Methodist community that had settled in the area. It was renamed as the Uniting Church after the national amalgamation of the Congregational Union, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in 1977. It is one of the only remaining buildings that formed the original Waterloo townsite.

The Waterloo school was demolished in 1971 when pupil numbers had declined and local children transferred to Burekup, Dardanup or Bunbury.

The second Waterloo Hall was demolished in 1990s because of structural problems. However, the foundations were deemed too hard to remove and were left under the third hall building. These foundations had been built on top of cobblestones from the original hall.

The opening of the third Waterloo Hall and Community Centre in 1992

The most recent (third) hall building was named the Waterloo Community Centre, and opened in 1992 by Alec McCloud and Laurie Hynes. It is a brick and iron construction and is still used today.


Image sources:

  • Map of 1830s land grants: Barnes, P: Marlston Hill and all That, (2001) Western Australia.
  • 1897 Opening of the Waterloo Hall, from Ken and Kerry Tyrrell
  • Other images used on this page were sourced from Margaret Vinci (nee Hynes)