Hamel was opened in the 1890s. It is in the Harvey Agricultural area in the Shire of Waroona (formerly Drakesbrook).
In 1897 the WA Government established the first permanent State nursery in Hamel. The land was granted back to the WA Government when the original owner, Lancel Victor de Hamel died unexpectedly in Coolgardie. Hence the locality name.
The Hamel town site was gazetted in 1899 and in the following year, the Government Experimental Farm and Arboretum at Hamel had established operations. Houses were constructed for the nursery manager and other workers.
The nursery propagated plants for Kings Park, Perth Zoo, Rottnest Island, Perth Zoological Gardens, Hyde Park, Harold Boas Gardens and many more.
In 1898 the first Hamel town lots were offered for sale. These were taken up by Irish and Italian migrants, with potatoes being the main crops grown.
The railway was built in 1893, it serviced passengers, it had goods delivered for the residents, it took produce like potatoes and dairy produce to Metropolitan markets and the mail was also delivered by rail. The Hamel Railway Station was removed in 1977.
Wetland Walk Trail
In the past years the Hamel Wetlands has just been a forest. In 2005 the pine plantation was chopped and the land owner, the department of environment and conservation, decided the wetlands should be a nature reserve. There is a Gazebo at the end of the trail where you can see ducks, birds, black swans and their babies. It is a 15 to 30 minute walk. Turn off the south west highway onto Cornucopia Street and into the exploring trail.
The Hamel shop was originally a farm house. In 1949 Italian migrants Michele Ferraro and son Guiseppe opened up the Hamel store. It was over the road from the old school and next to the Tennis Courts. The shop did well until it closed in 1980s.
The Tennis Courts
In the 1930s Bert and Jim Iseppi (brothers) built two tennis courts for local residents. They used ant hill material resourced from there farm. In the 1930s and 1940s the tennis courts were a gathering place for local residents. Now the courts have been grown over by vegetation and trees. You can see patches of the court are still there. The tree planting next to the courts were planted by the Waroona school children.
The Hamel School opened on 10 November 1905. It was located on the north east side of Fawcett Road; it was a one room wood and corrugated iron structure. After it opened 10 more children attended the school leaving only 24 at Waroona School. There were around 40 students in the Hamel school. There were teachers there one of them was Mr John Tonkin who became the premier of Western Australia. The school had a bomb shelter in World War 2. In 1944 when the school closed the students went to Waroona School by stock truck.
The Post Office
When train service was in operation, mail was sent by rail in and out. In 1965 and 1977 a post office was built inside the Hamel hall. In 1982 a post office was set up in at G Palmers house in Allowrie Street, Hamel The post office stopped operating in 1987.
In 1902 a prison working camp was built by the prisoners. It was meant to be the first out-station started under the Fremantle prison. For short term and near release prisoners in Western Australia. The prisoners worked on the nursery. In 1907 the prison had closed. In 1919 the former building was moved to where it is now in one piece. Left over buildings of the prison were demolished. The Hamel hall was used by the local school for concerts and fundraising events.
Hamel stops used to be an irrigation channel for farmers. It is a good place to visit still and see where the locals swam. Except no swimming is allowed now.
Photographs courtesy of D Ross & Waroona Historical Society