Elemental Fatigue: Old Onslow, Western Australia


Joined December 2012

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Artist's Description

The ruins of an abandoned town slumber in golden sunlight
Slump back towards the earth from which they came

Late afternoon sunshine highlights slender lines of mortar still ‘on the job’ and holding fast, one hundred and twenty-five years after initially being slapped on during construction. The orange-ochre bricks, possibly mud brick, are gradually crumbling back to earth without a protective roof, though the doorframe sports a cement strengthened and rendered lintle, and cornerstones continue their valiant battle with the elements.

Not much remains of this abandoned Australian township, first surveyed in 1885 as a port on the Ashburton River, to service the pastoral and pearling industries. It once included an Overland Telegraph Station, Bond Store, Wharf (Landing), Hospital, Doctor’s Residence, Magistrate’s House, Rob Roy Hotel, a Police Complex comprising Station, Gaol, Court House and Staff Quarters, and many houses.

A hard existence in this harsh dry environment, where a huge underground water storage tank was required to collect precious drops of rainwater from rooftops. When the river silted up, the only way to reach the new seawater jetty was via four miles of rickety tramway, struggling through marshy country and over sand hills. Then a series of cyclones destroyed jetties and halls, and caused havoc in the shipping channel by creating increasingly obstructive sandbars.

No doubt the townsfolk tired of all this. By 1925, Onslow re-located to Beadon Point, to take advantage of the new deepwater port and jetty, further east of this difficult site.

Old Onslow reclines gently in the warm sun …

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