You don’t have to look long at the Nicholson branch of my family tree before finding a longstanding connection to the old sawmill towns in the South West. My Great Great Grandfather, Edward Nicholson worked at Mornington Mill for many years and his son, William Nicholson (my Great Grandfather) grew up there. At times the family left the Mills and moved to more inhabited towns but they always seemed to return to the bush.
Like father like son, William started his working life at the No. 8 Mill in Holyoake and years later moved his young family to Hoffman’s Mill. It was here in Hoffman’s Mill that my Pop, Reece and his siblings grew up. The town and the time he spent there as a young boy left a lasting impression on him. He would often return to the place where he spent an idyllic childhood and in the future would bring his own children and later still, his grandchildren. The site of the old mill town that meant so much to him also found a place in the hearts of his family.
Hoffman’s Mill was established in the early 1900s and in its heyday, was a tiny sawmill town with a population of about 150. There were houses provided for married men and their families and separate houses for single men. The town itself consisted of a general store (with post office and bank), a lolly shop, billiard saloon, betting shop and hall. Areas for a cricket pitch and tennis courts were cleared and a banked up area of the Harvey River created a makeshift pool for the children.
The Makeshift Pool
The Mill Town closed 50 years ago and today none of the old buildings are standing. The site is still a popular attraction for campers and explorers and particularly for those who grew up there. It’s located in the middle of the Dwellingup State Forrest and access to the site is via Logue Brook Dam Road off the South Western Highway.
The road itself starts out as bitumen but after some distance travelled, becomes gravel. The gravel road seems to last forever but soon enough you reach the end to find yourself in a shaded clearing surrounded by overwhelmingly tall trees which were planted after the Mill had closed.
Though there are no buildings, there are some remnants of past human occupation in the form of bridges, visible railway sleepers where the train tracks used to lie, debris and plants such as roses and lilies which were planted by the original inhabitants.
The natural beauty of Hoffman’s Mill coupled with the memories I have of exploring and spending the day here with my family will always makes this place special to me.
I try to return as often as I can and when I do I can’t help but marvel at the changes that have occurred, most noticeably to the landscape. As time moves on the evidence that this was once a thriving town is slowly being eliminated as bit by bit the bush reclaims the land.
For more information on Hoffman’s Mill please visit:
Historical information on Hoffman’s Mill courtesy of: