Toodyay Historical Society

Explore Historic Toodyay

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Left: Donegan’s Cottage, headquarters of Toodyay Historical Society 


The History of Donegan’s Cottage

1901 James advertised a cottage in North Newcastle, occupied by his son, William James Donegan (Bill).

Bill and Margaret Reardon (Maggie) had married in 1890Their first child, Douglas William, died at birth in 1892. 

They raised their five surviving children in Donegan’s Cottage:

  • James Roy (Roy) b. 1893,
  • Gertrude Ellen (Gertie) b. 1896,
  • Wesley William (Bill Junior) b. 1900,
  • Harold Francis b.1905
  • Kathleen Mary b.1909. 

1910 Lot 19 and part of Lot 23 were transferred to the Crown, probably for the new Bolgart railway line across part of the Showgrounds behind Donegan’s Cottage. The remainder of Lot 23 containing the cottage was transferred to James Donegan’s son Bill.

Bill was the caretaker of the Showgrounds until his death in 1954. The cottage and part of Lot 24 were left to his son Harold, an employee of Industrial Extracts Ltd, who had married Blanche Leeder in 1941.

There were further alterations to lot numbers over the years, and in 1977, the front part of Lot 23 became Lot 201.

1981 The Toodyay Shire Council bought Donegan’s Cottage to extend the Showgrounds. Harold Donegan was granted tenancy until his death in 1993. Blanche had died six months before him.

Coming Events


March 2018

Sun 4 Mar: Clean Up Australia Day event -  support one of the groups at their Adopt-a-Spots. 

Wed 21 Mar 7 pm: THS Meeting, Drummond House

Sat 24 Mar (Note date change) : Members' Visit to Key Farm, including a special piano recital.

Please contact Secretary as numbers are limited. 

April 2018

Sun 8 Apr 2pm:  AGM, Anglican Hall

Wed 18 April 7.30 pm: THS Meeting, Drummond House


Past THS Events

convicts and shearing sheds

Historical Society members were treated to a special viewing of the new exhibition at the Newcastle Gaol Museum at the final event for the year. Thank you to  Museum Curator, Margaret Eberle, for arranging this. THS member Beth Frayne, also one of the museum volunteers, played quite a role in research and preparations for this excellent exhibition,  'Toodyay Convict Hiring Depot'.

The evening continued with a convivial shared feast over the road in the Old Wicklow Shearing Shed which is becoming a popular events venue. 

October Sundowner at Connor's Mill

THS members spent a relaxed evening in the truly special ambience of the multi-level Mill. There was ample time to renew our acquaintance with the very detailed displays and discuss ideas and plans for future special events, particularly for the Mill's upcoming sesqui-centenary in 2020. 

Dr Toby Metcalfe: Terra Nullius: Cook to Mabo Part 2

Part 2 of this fascinating series, presented at the October meeting, covered events up to and including Mabo. As President Robyn Taylor reported in the Herald: “It has been salutary to listen to historical accounts revealing the declaration of ‘terra nullius’ was not universally accepted, and that people holding to the belief in a just system of law knew there should have been treaties with the rightful owners.”  

Conference of the Affiliated Societies of the RWAHS at Wanneroo

Four THS members attended this most successful conference. Speakers were inspiring, including members of long-established families involved in local industries, such as market gardening and lime- burning kilns. Those attending were particularly impressed by the City of Wanneroo venues and smooth running of the event. 

Talk by Native Plant Specialist Bob Dixon at former Wyening Mission 

Several members attended this morning tea and greatly enjoyed the talk by Bob Dixon,in  particular his extensive knowledge of wheat belt native plants.

Shame, Bikes and Zombies in Toodyay 

Did you know that filming was carried out in Toodyay for three commercial movies during the 1980s?

At the recent Toodyay movie nostalgia night, an appreciative audience watched some very entertaining trailers and short excerpts from Shame, Zombie Brigade and Black Medicine, identifying many Toodyay settings and locals who were 'extras'.

There were also historical local home movies and short talks on the picture shows in Toodyay and the careers of  our member Beth's father and grandfather in the WA film industry. 

Did you miss it? Then visit Donegan's Cottage at the Toodyay Agricultural Show in October. There will be a display of photographs and film of Film and Picture Shows in Toodyay.

Egoline Homestead Visit






A small group of members was lucky enough to be able to visit historic Egoline Homestead prior to the departure of its most recent owners.

The property was taken up by Richard Hinds (1837), then by John Sewell (1854), the Wilkerson family (1870), the Sharman Family (1986-1992).  has There are three sections to the main homestead building, dating from the 1850s, 1870 and 1917. A small cottage was added in the 1930s.


River Avon Training Scheme talk  

At the July meeting, Wayne Clarke presented a fascinating talk on the history of the River Training Scheme implemented by five councils from Brookton to Toodyay. This scheme changed the river forever. We were also treated to a short film relating to this scheme.

Toodyay-Bolgart Railway History excursion 




Jenny led this informative tour for our June excursion. We started with the site of the old railway station (present-day Medical Centre) in Toodyay and ended at St. Philip’s Anglican Church graveyard, Culham, for afternoon tea. 

In between, we visited the remains of the Avon River railway bridge, railway embankments along Toodyay West Road and other railway sites along the Toodyay-Bindi Bindi Road were visited. One of the highlights was viewing what Jenny believes must be the location of Charles Yock Lunn’s homestead and Lunn’s Landing at Coondle.






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