Typical sleepy wheat and sheep service town.
Gnowangerup is located 335 km south east of Perth and is a typical wheat and sheep town. It probably acquired its unusual name from the local Aboriginal word ‘gnowneerup’ meaning the ‘place of mallee hen eggs’. There was a time when the local people attempted to change the town’s name but, in spite of a number of suggestions, the State Lands Department refused.
The first European into the area was John Septimus Roe, the Western Australian surveyor-general, who, on one of the eight expeditions which he made between 1830-1835, passed through the area.
The area was settled by European pastoralists in the 1850s. By the 1870s Thomas Quinn had acquired the area around Gnowangerup Spring and was using it as pasture for the horses of the sandalwood cutters who moved through the area. It wasn’t until 1905 that the town was named and gazetted. The first merino sheep were introduced into the area in 1908, by 1912 the railway had arrived and by 1918 there was a butter factory in the town.
Today Gnowangerup is a typical farming service centre with its hotel/motel and its railway line, its farm machinery yards and its service shops providing the needs for the 2 500 people who live in the shire raising beef cattle and sheep or growing wheat, barley, lupins, peas and linseed.