Heritage Accommodation and Home Baked Speciality Cakes
Harwood’s cottage squats on a property that was originally known as Inlet Villa. The cluster of buildings is the last vestige of the Quindalup town site which was the hub of a thriving timber industry from the mid to late 1800’s.
Timber was exported from a jetty opposite Inlet Villa, linked to a horse drawn wooden tramway that speared inland to the mills, established by Henry Yelverton. His first mill was built near the beach at Molloy’s Ditch, just east of Inlet Villa.
The patriarch of the Quindalup Harwoods, William, who was born in 1809, came to Western Australia from England in 1830. He died in 1894 and is buried in Pioneer Cemetery in Busselton.
His son John is the first listed owner of Inlet Villa. The cottage, and the other historical buildings – the timber kitchen and limestone government building and barn – are thought to be circa 1860s, though some of the buildings may have been erected earlier.
A Shared Dream…
Though a generation apart, Norma Andrews and Dorothy Harwood Martin* shared a common interest- a love of cooking. And both dreamed of turning century old buildings into an eating establishment.
Before marrying Ron Harwood, Dorothy Holmes was a cook at Yallingup Caves House for three years. While she was never to realize her dream, Norma was able to show what may have been when deciding she would restore the buildings and turn the Harwood homestead into tea rooms.
Norma’s interest in cooking was inherent. From an early age she loved to cook cakes, and before restoring Harwood’s cottage, she was the trail cook for the highly popular Checkout section of the Sunday Times newspaper. She also made cakes for one of WA’s award winning cafes.
She intended calling Harwood’s Cottage Elbow Room, because of its small size. However, the Harwood connection took over during the restorations and the property has become a popular legacy to one of Quindalup’s pioneering families.
John Harwood was the first of four generations of Harwoods who occupied the property for more then a century. The cottage was erected on a 40 acre farm, which was subdivided into three lots of approximate size in 1986 by Norma’s parents, Ken and Blanche Albrey.
John Harwood had a number of occupations and was the harbour master and manager of the shore station for Henry Yelverton. John, and wife Mary, who was a descendent of Elijia Dawson, a Battle of Trafalga veteran and one of the first settlers in Vasse, had nine children. Their eldest son, Bill, married to Laura Payne, who was married to one of the region’s pioneering families.
Laura ran the Quindalup post office when it was shifted to the property in 1923. Dorothy took over when she married Ron in 1942 and operated it for just on 25 years, until its demise in 1966. They had five boys who were the last generation of Harwoods to live on the property. When the post office closed Ron and Dorothy sold up and moved to Busselton.
Ken and Blanche Albrey were dairy farmers at Yelverton, about fifteen kilometers away, before poor health forced Ken to sell their farm and look for something more manageable.
He initially leased the property from Harry Oldham, a local identity, who purchased it from the Harwoods in 1968, and then bought it in 1976.
Blanche was a Searle, who were a group of settlers at Wilyabrup. When Ken died in 1988 Norma, the elder daughter moved back to the area and took over the property with the intention of restoring the buildings, which had become ramshackle.
With the assistance of the WA Heritage Council she was able to achieve her goal of turning the cottage into a café as part of the restoration. Her sister Heather, who also lives on a portion of the original title, played a major role in assisting Norma with her objective.
The cottage was built in two stages. Wings were added later and were used as a sleeping quarters. On the side facing the Government building the rear room was known as "The Cabin”, while the one at the front was a bedroom and bathroom, at different times.
The room where the café counter now stands was the main bedroom and the one with the fireplace was the living room. There were also two small bedrooms where the café’s kitchen is now situated.
After Dorothy and Ron Harwood moved to the new house at the front, built by Ron around 1957, the cottage began to decline and was later used by Ken Albrey to store chaff.
The floors and ceilings were in very good condition, considering the state of the building, and needed few repairs. An example of the lath and plaster used in the construction of the interior walls can be seen near the rear door.
The Government Building…
The limestone structure, known as the Government building, was also built in two stages. It is thought the room farthest from the cottage may have been constructed first and the other two rooms added later as they have the same type of ceilings as the cottage.
The government building has had a varied life. Initially it is thought to have housed a lockup and a customs house. Convicts were an important factor in the development of the area, particularly at the Yelverton timber mills, because of the lack of labour in the region. The customs facility was thought to have been established to control illicit booze bought in by visiting vessels, particularly whaling ships that frequented Geographe Bay.
When the Quindalup post office was shifted to the property it occupied the room next to the timber cottage. The middle room became the sleeping quarters for Bill and Laura Harwood, while the room thought to have housed the lock up was used as a dairy, to separate milk and store preserves.
Restoration of the Harwood property started in September 2000. The first stage was the cottage.
Initially, there was to be paving at the back of it, however because there needed to be a two meter clearance on the verandahs it presented a problems with the roots of the old fig tree, so decking became a last minute substitute. The deck has since been extended.
Next were kitchen and government building the following tear, with the barn as the final stage in 2003.
Most of the new timber was acquired from a local mill while the restoration was carried out, with assistance from grants from the WA Heritage Council, by architects and a builder who specialized in heritage restoration.
During the initial stages a group of students from the University of Western Australia carried out an archaeological study that provided useful information about a domestic dwelling in the
The timber building at the back of the cottage was the kitchen. The Harwood family gathered there of an evening and because there was no power connected to any of the buildings, family members used candles to find their way to bed.
While it is now hard to imagine, because of the constant flow of traffic past it, the property was once quite isolated and Dorothy recalls sitting with a shotgun on her lap when her husband was away at night.
There used to be a baker’s oven outside the window, and the kettle was always boiling on the stove so a cup of tea was handy for anyone who dropped in, particularly to the post office.
Norma’s father used the building as a pig pen and it was in very poor condition before it was restored.
The Post Office…
Quindalup’s post office was situated in four different locations between 1865 and 1923. It was initially at the Yelverton mill, where Henry Yelverton operated the post office after it moved to Yelverton homestead, Quindalup House, in 1870.
It remained there until 1906 when it was moved to Cometville, originally known as Comet Vale, which was named after Halley’s Comet, on Quindalup Siding. It was shifted to the Harwood property in 1923, where it also incorporated the local telephone exchange.
It stayed in the government building until 1957, when it moved to the newer house, and ceased operations in 1966. The post office has been restored and also turned into a museum. The 30 subscriber wall switchboard, on display, was the type used when the post office closed.
The exterior of the building has created considerable interest among visitors. The old ‘dunny’ originally was ‘down the back’ of the government building. The fig tree, which hangs over the decking, has the initials of many of the Harwood clan carved into the trunk, is more than 100 years old.
The limestone barn on the boundary may have been used as a bond store during the halcyon days of the timber industry. It had a forge attached to it under a covered lean to, which also accommodated a sulky and horse.
At the rear of the property are wetlands. While dry in summer they are habitat for all kinds of wildlife in winter, including numerous black swans.
The Harwood buildings are virtually all that’s actively left of a thriving community that spread from the coast, where timber was exported, to Yelverton timber operations, which stretched inland for about 20 kilometers.
Because of the shallow water, timber was ferried from a jetty, directly opposite Harwood’s to vessels anchored a couple of kilometers offshore. Among the places the timber was exported to were India and Ceylon, for use as railway sleepers, and London for pavers.
The vacant block next to Harwood’s once housed a building that was erected as quarters by the town sites first policeman, James (Jim) Forrest. The building was later used as a school but was burnt down by vandals on Christmas Day 1968.
Evidence of the tramway linking the jetty, from where the timber was exported, to Yelverton’s inland mill can still be found on the property, which is called the police block by some and police paddock by others and is now a reserve.
Convicts were a major source of labour in the local timber industry. Over the years the Yelverton’s employed at least 280 different tickets of leave men.
The property has historical significance apart from being the last vestige of what was once the Quindalup town site precinct, which existed for about 40 years, from the 1860’s to 1900.
The cottage is one of the few colonial buildings of its type still standing in WA, let alone in a habitable state. It is clad with pit milled, vertical split timber slabs. Horizontal weather boards were probably attached to the outside walls at a later stage, while the interior walls are made of lath and plaster.
Split slab buildings were indicative of those found in frontier conditions during the colonial era, where local materials were used and usually in crude finishes. Such buildings were expected to be temporary and not last anywhere near as long as the Harwood homestead.
Colonial craftsmanship is evident in the way timbers were joined in the cottage and in masonry work in the limestone buildings. Most, if not all, of the buildings originally had shingle roofs.