Early farming days in Katanning
Agriculture Farming has played a vital role in the history of Katanning and its subsequent development. Our indigenous population “farmed” the land by living off native flora and fauna and left only footprints.
Farming practices as we know them today, however, started with the arrival of our British and European settlers into the region. After twenty years of droving sheep from York to Katanning and back, Eli Quartermaine finally brought his family here making them the first family to settle here. They were quickly followed by several more families including the Cronins, Haddletons, Beecks, and others.
However, it wasn’t until the arrival of the Great Southern Railway that the area began to boom. Frederick Piesse and his brother Charles had sold their business in Williams and set up a mobile provisions store to follow the railway workers as they constructed the railway south from Beverley. A similar rail construction project was working its way northward from Albany with the two sections meeting five kilometres north of what is now Katanning. This joining of the two sections meant that the railway workers packed up and moved on to the next job.
Frederick and Charles realised there were already farmers settled in the area so they set up their mobile provisions store permanently here. With a regular supply of grain, the brothers decided to expand their business by building the state’s first roller flour mill. With the construction of the mill settlers looking for land to farm saw a regular buyer for their grain so more and more people began to take up land in the region.
It was a hard, tough life for the settlers and their families. They had to be able to provide their own water, most of their own food and most of the land was cleared by back breaking hard work.