Latham is a townsite in the northern agricultural region, midway between Wubin and Perenjori, and 309 km north of Perth. It is on the railway between Wongan Hills and Mullewa which opened for service in 1915. When the railway was being planned in 1913 the Public Works Department decided that the site of Latham was appropriate for a townsite. The District Surveyor, S E Smith, agreed after inspecting the area, and nominated two possible names for the townsite, Merriedale and Latham. Latham was selected, and was also used for the name of the proposed railway station from 1913. The townsite was gazetted in 1917.

Latham derives its name from Latham Rock, a large granite rock about 3 km south east of the townsite. The rock was first recorded as Latham Rock in 1909, and honours Mr.F.A.Latham, an early pastoralist/sandalwood cutter of the region who established a watering place and camp for stock being droved through the district[1]

A gnamma hole, about six feet deep at Latham Rock, now of heritage significance, was an important water source for early settlers. It was also an important gathering place with the first community picnic held here on New Year’s Day 1912. There is an opportunity in any interpretation to highlight the importance of gnamma holes as water sources for Aboriginal people prior to the arrival of early settlers. There are good images of sandalwood cutters and other farming images in the State Library of Western Australia. It would be effective to highlight the story of rabbits and the Rabbit Proof Fence in this location.

After the rabbit drive, Latham 1927/8[2]

By the end of the 1920s there were a number of farmers cropping large areas in the district. There are many stories of individual farms and settlers that can be told. Mr Charles Frederick Just, one of the first settlers in the district, selected and took up land in 1909, moving to the district from Wagin. He was fortunate to find two good supplies of water on his land and he settled with his wife and family, building a simple house of stone to replace an early bush timber and hessian structure. He was handicapped from 1910 on by the lack of railway facilities for his crop. By 1929 a number of farmers were cropping large areas and several ran sheep as well. Boring and well sinking were taking place and miles of wire netting for fences was being delivered. Charles Just who by this time ran 1000 acres, died in 1933 and his son Vernon continued farming on the old farm while Eric took up land near Bunjil in 1927. The Just Homestead and Homestead Site is a simple homestead that could tell the story of early settlement.[3]

The bulk wheat bin was opened in November 1936. The population totalled around 250 from the late 1930s to 1949. In the early 1950s the school was overcrowded but times changed and low numbers saw it forced to close in 2015. The town store shut about a decade earlier. The population now numbers around 60 people.

Sandalwood bound for Latham[4]

Sandalwood pullers’ camp, Latham[5]


[2] State Library of Western Australia 007243D

[3] Heritage Council of Western Australia, Place Number 14142

[4] State Library of Western Australia 007247D

[5] State Library of Western Australia 007248