Strawberry Hill at Barmup

Strawberry Hill at Barmup

Great Southern

This has been the land of the Menang people since dreamtime. This area is known as Barmup.

Nitja Menang Moort Boodjar Nyungar Boodjar Menang Djinoong Koorlinjy Curram Barmup

This is land-of Menang people and Nyungar Country. Menang have looked after and walked this land since dreamtime.

The story of Western Australia as a state starts here…

  • About Strawberry Hill

    Strawberry Hill farm sits on Menang Country at a place called Barmup, meaning ‘place of tall trees’. For tens of thousands of years Barmup was an important campsite and place of shelter for Menang people, situated along a well-worn walking track with a ready supply of fresh water. At the time of the arrival of the British colonisers in 1826 it was the country of Mullett and her brothers – Nakinah, Mokare, Tarapan and Mollian.

    Strawberry Hill was the National Trust of Western Australia’s first property – acquired in 1964 and open to the public in 1966. Today, the National Trust continue to work with the Menang people and the local community to protect and make available this significant place.

    To the local Menang people, the house, farm and its fences represent both an intangible and physical barrier to their traditional way of life. We have been working hard over recent years to undertake consultation with Menang people to tell these stories as part of the shared history of this cultural landscape.


  • History

    In 1826 when the British established a military outpost at King George Sound (later Albany) they were vastly out numbered and sought to maintain good relations with Menang people, but on their terms. A government farm was established at this site in 1827 to produce food for the soldiers and convicts. Menang people worked at various tasks on the farm. The first Government Resident, Alexander Collie, took up his appointment in 1831 and appears to be the first to refer to the place as Strawberry Hill. By this time cabbages, broccoli, turnips, potatoes, carrots, radishes and parsley were flourishing. Collie lived in a small wattle and daub cottage at Strawberry Hill which had been built for Captain Stirling’s visit in 1831.

    Two years later Sir Richard Spencer RN arrived to replace Collie as the Government Resident, along with his wife Lady Anne Spencer, and their nine surviving children. With them came eleven indentured servants, building materials, seeds, fruit trees, sheep and other livestock. The existing small cottage was not adequate. Additional rooms were quickly added and within three years the two-storey granite house that still stands was constructed. The earlier single storey structures were destroyed by fire on Easter Sunday of 1870, and scorch marks can still be seen up high on the granite house.

    Within 6 months of his arrival in 1833 the new Government Resident at King George Sound, Sir Richard Spencer, purchased the Government Farm, then known as Strawberry Hill. By 1834 he had added a further 1400 acres of land to the original 6 acre holding.

    Sir Richard was a retired naval officer living on half pay in England when he accepted Stirling’s offer of the role of Government Resident. As Government Resident Sir Richard conducted his administrative duties from Strawberry Hill while acquiring more farmland to provide for the future of his sons.

    The Spencer family lived in a rammed earth cottage until, in 1836, the current two-storey stone house was built adjoining the older home. The well-established gardens were producing blood oranges, grapes, raspberries, gooseberries, asparagus, figs and almonds. The new house was the centre of the district’s social life.

    Of all its visitors over the years, Charles Darwin is the most illustrious. He arrived at Strawberry Hill in 1836 with Captain FitzRoy, commander of HMS Beagle, choosing the farm as an eight-day stop-off during his return journey from Australia. He described the place as a “small and neat farm in what is the only cultivated ground in the district”.

    The building was rescued from certain ruin half a century later in 1889 by Francis Bird, the chief architect of Western Australia and a pioneer of the state’s timber industry, who lived at Strawberry Hill with his wife Augusta Maude and their family. This was the point when it became known, endearingly, as Old Farm — more than 100 years ago.  The family retained ownership of it until 1956.

    In 1956 the property was purchased by the government as a historic monument but fell into another cycle of neglect. Transferred to the National Trust in 1964, the place is being conserved to appropriately reflect its significance.

  • Conservation

    As with all old buildings, Old Farm, Strawberry Hill is not immune to the ravages of time. Constructed of stone walls, timber floor and roof framing with a slate roof, it sits on reactive clay soil that is subject to swelling when wet, and shrinkage when dry. Over a long period there has been foundation movement with consequent cracking and outward movement of walls that is now accelerating. Associated rising damp also continues to damage the building. The Trust, with the generous support of Lotterywest, has completed a $24,000 project to engage consultants to develop a means of stabilising the building to prevent eventual collapse. The recommended conservation solutions involve a substantial program of structural, moisture barrier, drainage and repair works.

    In 2013, both roofs of the homestead were replaced with slate sourced from the same quarry in Wales the roofs were originally created from. A large amount of structural work also took place – utilising traditional methods wherever possible.

    In 2020, a Visitor Hub was built.

  • Explore

    Soak up the many stories a visit to Strawberry Hill at Barmup offers. Start your visit in the award-winning Visitor Hub, explore new interpretation in the 1836 house and take one of the self-guided tours of the grounds to appreciate the surrounding cultural landscape. Please take note of the closure periods scheduled throughout the year below while planning your visit.

    Our helpful local volunteers are on-hand to answer questions and assist you during your visit. Refreshments from the kiosk in the Visitor Hub are available for ticket holders to purchase.

    Albany and the Great Southern region is a must-see for tourists and locals alike, with so many incredible sights and experiences to soak up. Whether you’re out for a day or a week, you won’t be disappointed.

    For those who want to find out more about the Menang and early colonial history of Albany be sure to visit the Museum of the Great Southern.

  • Feedback

    My husband and I visited Strawberry Hill in Albany on 3rd March. We had a fantastic guided tour of the house and garden led by Brian. He was extremely knowledgeable and imparted this in an interesting manner. He is a real asset to the trust. The other volunteers that we met were also engaging and keen to help. This property deserves to be much busier than it was when we were there as it’s a real gem.

    Jeannette, March 2024

    We have just experienced the best historical tour we have ever had at Strawberry Hill Farm in Albany. Brian was so engaging with the history of the the Farm that the informative tour he gave whisked by in minutes even though it was closer to hours. We were so intrigued after the education provided we continued to explore the grounds recreating “yesteryears” gone by. Thank you so much to the National Trust, the team at Albany and of course our amazing tour guide on the day. This is a unique experience we will be recommending to family and friends.

    Debby, February 2024

    I would just like to let you know what an amazing tour we experienced at Strawberry Hill in Albany. We never expected such an outstanding tour guide, taking us on an interactive tour of the grounds and the life of Sir Richard Spencer. Brian is full of knowledge as well as having a great sense of humor. We would also like to mention the lovely ladies that walked around with our dog Bob who is a little anxious when we are out of view. Thanks to those ladies we enjoyed the best historical tour we have ever attended.
    When my husband told me it only cost $10 each for the tour, I could not believe it. It was worth so much more.

    Sue, December 2023

    Today we fortunate to have a tour of Strawberry Hill. We would like to commend the National Trust and the team of volunteers for the outstanding preservation of this property. The volunteers were exceptional. We took a tour with Brian and would like to pass on our thanks. His knowledge and passion about the history of the farm and the traditional owners was incredible. He brought history alive with the stories he shared. My husband is not as passionate about history as I am, but Brian kept him engaged and when we left Steve continued to ask me questions and ‘wonder’ about things.
    A first! Thank you so much. We have had a truly lovely morning.

    Michelle and Steve, November 2023

Strawberry Hill at Barmup

Anne and Richard’s love story is, in essence, is about a true love match at a time when most upper-class marriages were artfully concocted property deals.

Anne followed Richard to Malta as a young bride and lost her first two children there, she followed him to Italy when he was posted there. She then travelled to the far end of the known world with him, left behind everything and everybody she knew – not as a young girl but a middle-aged woman with the brains and the finances to refuse.

In effect, Richard had become ‘home’ to her. She loved him!

Strawberry Hill at Barmup

Ever since people began arriving on the shores of Western Australia, the population has included diverse nationalities.

Aboard the Cumberland in 1829 was a young master carpenter of Indian birth. Hookum Chan travelled from India with John Laurence Morley and both men lived and worked for a time at Strawberry Hill at Barmup, as well as Albany township, after sailing down the coast from Fremantle on the Sulphur in 1831. Hookum would go on to run a highly successful furniture making business in Perth after leaving the Albany/Kinjarling region. He married Hannah Seebi Suli Solomon in 1845 and the couple raised their family here, weaving themselves into the fabric of Western Australian history and homes.

Hookum died on the 19th of March 1903 in Perth and was buried alongside Hannah in the Church of England section of East Perth Cemeteries, in a now unmarked grave.

Plan Your Visit

Strawberry Hill at Barmup

  • 174 Middleton Road Albany 6330 WA
  • (08) 9321 6088
  • National Trust Members – FREE
    Adults – $10.00
    Adult / Student Concession – $7.00
    Children (5yrs and over) – $5.00
    Children (under 5 yrs) – FREE
    Family group of four – $25.00
    Group bookings (10 or more people) – from $7.00 per person
    (Schools by appointment)

  • Visitor Hub and grounds are open Sunday to Friday from 10.00 am to 2.15 pm
    Tours of the Main House start at 11.00 am, 12.15 pm and 1.45 pm.
    The kiosk is open for light refreshments from 10.00 am to 2.30 pm.
    Please note Strawberry Hill closes at 1.30pm on Mondays.

  • Strawberry Hill will be closed from Monday 15 July 2024 through to Sunday 25 August 2024 for the Winter Season

    Good Friday
    Christmas Day
    Please note, Strawberry Hill will close if the Bureau of Meteorology forecast for Albany is for 38 degrees or above. You will be able to use your tickets on another day or request a refund.

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