Arthur River is a small town located in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, between Williams and Kojonup on Albany Highway. Arthur River is named after the river that flows through it, a headwater of the Blackwood River. The river was named by Governor James Stirling in 1835 after Mr Arthur Trimmer who was a member of the exploring expedition led by the Governor.
Following the introduction of convicts in Western Australia labour to the Swan River Colony in the early 1850s, the road from Perth to Albany was completed and a number of small settlements sprang up along it to support pastoralists who had been granted grazing leases in the area from as early as 1854. Arthur River gradually developed into a thriving centre with a police barracks and gaol (1866), the Mount Pleasant Inn (1869), St Paul’s Church (1885) still surviving to this day as remnants of the original settlement, and a post office, blacksmith, doctor and trading post also being built around that time. By the end of the century it was the major centre in the area. When the Great Southern Railway opened in 1889, much of the existing trade moved to new railway towns further east and many of the centres along the old “Coach Road” closed.
Arthur River mainly serves as a fuel stop for travellers, with some of the historic buildings open to tourists. The Mobil Arthur River Roadhouse, which offers a takeaway and sit-down menu, and the Arthur River general store, supplying basic grocery items, liquor and postal services, are located in the town, although neither are open 24hrs.
The Arthur Wool Shed Group, with shearing shed, shearers’ quarters, sheep dip and concrete cricket pitch, is one of the most prominent buildings in the town. It was first established in 1910 and opened as a one-stop-shop for community shearers in the 1950s. It was extensively restored in the three years to 2002, at which point the complex was heritage listed by the Heritage Council of WA.