The townsite of Bunjil, located in the northern wheatbelt between Wongan Hills and Mullewa, was created as a result of a decision to establish a railway siding in 1913. It was gazetted in 1914, and the Aboriginal name was suggested by Surveyor Smith, acting District Surveyor. Its meaning is not known.[1]

Bunjil Rocks, an ancient rock formation with several gnamma holes and water catchment areas is located south west of the town. It would presumably be interpreted as it is a protected area and an important physical feature that has featured in picnics and community celebrations over many years.

In 1924 Bunjil was described as ‘a lonely little siding about seventeen miles from Perenjori on the Government railway to Geraldton via Goomalling.’ The poem by S.O.J.L entitled Bunjil The Song of a Clearer describes the loneliness of four early clearers in the district, as they sought to denude the area of trees. The difficulties they faced including a lack of water and the blazing heat are well depicted[2]:

Away beyond the haunts of man,

‘Midst silence, deep and still

‘Midst lonely plain and forest land,

You’ll find dear old Bunjil,

Devoid of almost, any life.

With water scarce as gold,

It stands up there, like some lost sheep,

Stayed far beyond the fold.


The sun shines fiercely down by day.

The cold winds blow at night

And he who ventures up that way.

Returns a sorry sight.

With neck and arms scorched deepest brown,

With hair grown wild and long,

He looks just like the hero of

Some bygone battle song.


And to this spot, this lovely spot.

This bonny old Bunjil,

We four have now by fate arrived.

A contract to fulfil.

Three hundred acres of tree-land.

Beneath the blazing heat,

We plan to clear, while old King Sol.

Does fiercely on us beat.


Our shed is up; our beds are made;

And all is snug and tight;

So what need we of worry now.

When everything’s all right.

Let’s hop into this contract, boys.

Despite the lack of breeze,

And cut down all the jolly scrub,

And fell these towering trees.


(Three Weeks Later.)


Our stores are just six miles away;

Our water’s running low.

But by to-morrow evening, boys,

We’ll be O.K. What O!

And so we can’t downhearted feel.

And sure we never will,

For some day in the future, lads,

We’ll leave dear old Bunjil.


After we’ve done a hard day’s toil,

And finished having tea.

We turn our-selves to sailors bold.

And kid we’re on the sea;

For two of us ascend to rest.

On bunks up near the sky,

While two crawl into berths below.

To go to lullaby.


Then in the morning when we rise,

To feed as clearers will,

The two aloft up near the skies,

Come down to old Bunjil.

And thus we live from day to day,

Contented and at ease,

Our object just to make the land,

Devoid of scrub and trees.


With consistently good rainfall from 1914, there were signs of prosperity in the district by the late 1920s. Windmills dotted the landscape and ‘good water was always obtainable.’ The population of Bunjil and surrounds totalled 28 in 1935 and possibly peaked at 50 in 1942/43, remaining at 50 five years later.

The area was originally selected for sheep but by the late 1920s it was one of the best mixed farming areas in the state. A total of 71,795 bags of wheat were moved through Bunjil in the 1929-30 season. In 1932 Bunjil was one of the sidings chosen for the installation of two grain elevators, each with an engine. In 1936 a silo was erected at the siding for bulk wheat handling – described as ‘one of the largest along this line’ with a capacity of 200,000 bushels.

Waddi Farm owned by FWG Liebe was responsible for much of the growth in wheat crops to the siding in the early 1930s. In 1929 the acreage under crop at the rapidly developing Waddi Farm was 18,000 acres and Liebe was employing 40 clearers at the time to prepare more land.[3]

In 1935 the Bunjil Tennis Court decided to put down a new court to cater for increased membership. The Bunjil Progress Association continued to agitate for a bus to take students to either Caron or Latham and in 1938 the plea was for a badly needed school as the buses would have to travel too far.

Courtesy State Library Western Australia, slwa_b1867066_1

The 1930s saw many advertisements for fine agricultural land and much land was opened up and cleared, using the ball and chain to clear 100 acres a day in 1933.

The 1930s saw a thriving community building another tennis court to cater for increased membership. The Bunjil Progress Association sought a school for the district and a Caron – Bunjil branch of the Country Women’s Association was established in 1938 and the Caron-Bunjil sub branch of the RSL sub branch was formed in 1948.

In 1945 Arthur Frederick Cannon who ran the store and conducted the post office at Bunjil applied ‘on behalf of a large number of customers’ for a Gallon Licence. He argued that there was no licensed premises for miles around. The application however was unsuccessful due to the small population (only 3) at the siding and the police argument that the requirements of the district did not warrant a licence. Joan Margaret Cannon’s recording in the State Library tells of the time with her husband running the store at Bunjil from 1943 to 1949.[4]  She then talks of farming on their property six miles north west of Caron from that time to the 1980s.  Other oral histories tell the story of farming in the district.[5]

The district was a focus of land clearing in the 1950s and a range of new methods were used to clear the mallee around Bunjil. Mr A N Davis demonstrated old practices ‘hotted up’ by modern machinery. He based his methods

on those of the scrub-bashing horse and log era, when two or more horses working apart dragged a log through the scrub, either tearing it up or bashing it down. In the modern version each end of a heavy 35ft log is attached by a 30ft length of chain to a 55hp crawler tractor. The two tractors move abreast through the timber about 40ft. apart. The larger trees are brought out of the ground, roots and all, and the scrub effectively pulped. After the tractors have been through, the timber is left in ideal condition for the burn. [6]

Davis boasted clearing 1100 acres of mallee country at Bunjil with two tractors, two drivers, two piecers of chain and a log in 12 days.

Bunjil remains a wheat farming centre with about 60 residents. It is also a Cooperative Bulk Handling receival site.

[1] https://www0.landgate.wa.gov.au/maps-and-imagery/wa-geographic-names/name-history/historical-town-names#B

Bunjil is said to have Aboriginal origins but is possibly more connected to the Kulin people of Victoria for whom Bunjil is an ancestral being often depicted as an eagle.

[2] Western Mail, 16 October 1924

[3] Western Mail, 7 February 1929

[4] SLWA Joan Margaret Cannon OH2906

[5] James Ulrich Deegan OH 61, Victor Charles Lakeman OH 2889,

[6] Western Mail, 2 April 1953