Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Donnelly River WA

Donnelly River

Postcode: 6258

Donnelly River is a former town and present-day holiday village located in the South West region of Western Australia, at a point between Nannup, Bridgetown and Manjimup on the Donnelly River, a small river which flows into the Southern Ocean. The name also applies to a winery downstream on the Vasse Highway.

The town was named for the river which flows through it, which in turn was named by Governor James Stirling after Admiral Ross Donnelly, a friend of his wife’s family and Rear Admiral of the Red.

The Donnelly River site was first used as a timber mill by the Wheatley family in 1912 to cut cross arms and telegraph poles, but it closed after two years. In 1947, Bunnings made plans to build a new mill on the Wheatley site to work timber in new permit areas held by the company, with a steam engine purchased from Onkaparinga Woollen Mills in South Australia – Donnelly River became the only steam-driven mill in the South West, officially opening in 1951. The mill and town subsequently provided employment and family homes for a large community for nearly 30 years – many of these families have remained in the district. It was shut down in 1978 as part of a Forests Department policy to close less efficient mills, and is now heritage listed.

Donnelly River Village is a small township in the picturesque Donnelly valley located about 300 km south of Perth, Western Australia. It is a preserved mill town surrounded by karri forests. Wildlife including emus, kangaroos, kookaburras and parrots are often seen in the area. There are numerous bush walks from the village and the Bibbulmun Track passes through the town.

Other natural attractions in the area include Four Aces, One Tree Bridge and Glenoran Pool. Donnelly Lake is a popular picturesque swimming and picnic spot. In the springtime, enjoy the bright colours of local wildflowers. Cottages in the village originally built for timber mill workers have been restored and now provide holiday accommodation. The village store offers basic groceries and snack foods.