Murchison Settlement

The naming of the Murchison River took place in 1839 following the exploration of the area by Lieutenant George Grey. He named the river the Murchison after Roderick Impey Murchison the President of the Geographic Society, London. The crest adopted by the Shire of Murchison is that of the Murchison family.

Pastoralists first settled the Murchison Shire in the 1860s with the production of wool being the major industry.

In 1864 the need for more grazing land for sheep brought settlement to the area. The combination of plenty of feed and good quality water meant that many people took up the opportunity to graze their sheep or cattle in the area.

Local Aboriginal people were employed by the settlers as shepherds. Homesteads were built of readily available materials - stone and timber. Some of these buildings still exist today.

The Murchison Roads Board was formed in 1875. Then as of now, the Shire is one of the largest in the state with the fewest ratepayers. Apart from the provision of roads and later phone services, the Shire remains an area with few services. The roads board became a Shire Council in 1961 and the area is now known as the Shire of Murchison.

These days the Shire is made up of 26 pastoral leases, which farm sheep, cattle and goats. The Shire of Murchison is known as the shire without a town as there is no designated townsite in the shire, however, a settlement was declared at the site of the Shire office in 1988 and the Murchison Settlement provides a hub for the community.

Information about the history of the Shire of Murchison can be obtained from a number of publications available locally. The book Road to the Murchison by Marion Nixon and RFB Lefroy is available from the Shire of Murchison offices phone (08) 9963 7999 or e-mail Some other publications relevant to the area are available from the Museum (phone (08) 9963 7680.


Further Reading Relevant To The Region

Woolsheds of the Murchison and Gascoyne by June Lacey.
A Varied and Versatile Life: The Memoirs of F Wittenoom 1855-1939 by RFB Lefroy
Lonely Graves by Yvonne Coates
E.T. Hooley – Pioneer Bushman by E. Sharp