In the late 1800s, the insatiable demand for railway sleepers, for which the local jarrah trees were mercilessly ravaged, helped Donnybrook, 36km south-east of Bunbury, to grow and prosper.
Then a short-lived gold rush in 1897 kept things exciting for a few years. When the gold ran out, the local sandstone - used in many of Perth’s fine old homes and through the southern part of the state - kept people employed.
In Donnybrook itself, you can see fine examples of the use of this stone in the War Memorial Hall, the Anglican and Methodist churches and the district school.
But now it’s apples that are the mainstay of the local economy, especially the Granny Smith, first grown in early Sydney, and the Lady Williams varieties, which were developed in the region. First planted in the late 1890s, most of the state’s apples are now grown in the area.
The scenery, too, is fabulous in an area first settled by Irish immigrants, who named the town after the Dublin suburb of Donnybrook. These Irish people battled gamely against the bush with primitive implements for years before abandoning their effort and leaving their land to echo to the timber cutters’ axes.