Overlooking Meelon, the Murray River, this area is very significant to the Binjareb Noongar people. As colonists sought new land, Aboriginal people were forced from their Country, sometimes causing clashes and dislocation from their land.
John and Mary Anne McLarty were among the first Europeans to settle in the Murray District around 1842. They built ‘Blythewood’ over five years from 1856, and ran it as a wayside inn and postal service. Sometimes known as the ‘Pinjarra Arms’, the main house had rooms off the verandah which were used as accommodation by hotel patrons and for the post office.
The family house remained in McLarty ownership for more than a century and was gifted to the National Trust in 1972.
The National Trust recognises that Old Blythewood sits on Binjareb Noongar Country, and that it is downstream from where the Pinjarra Massacre took place in 1834. The National Trust is committed to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We have the opportunity to do this through our work at Old Blythewood in recognising the massacre and the trauma associated with it for the Pinjarra community, as well as the resilience of the Binjareb people and their ongoing connection to the land.
Lotterywest funding supported recent conservation works to the house and kitchen building. The works, which were carried out through 2020–21, included roof repairs, timber floor works, masonry conservation, external timber painting and site drainage works.
Future conservation will address internal crack repairs, painting to appropriate colour schemes and new interpretation to improve the visitor experience. The National Trust will also focus on garden improvements, including fences and paths.
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