History goes up in flames as Yarloop is destroyed

IT’S a sad irony that for the past 30 years, the town of Yarloop has held a formal classification as a conservation area.

Yarloop was built for – and around – timber. In the end, being amongst those fire-prone surrounds brought the mill-town down.

The 1984 classification wasn’t so much a reflection of current significance as it was a nod to the rich history of the town that was once the centre of WA’s timber industry.

Farmers had settled in the district from 1849 but it was when Charles and Edwin Millar arrived in 1894 that a chance to grow a town among the area’s tall jarrah trees emerged.

By the 1930s, their timber mill boasted the world’s largest private railway with 25 locomotives and their operations – including the Waigerup Mill – were thriving with more than 500 employees.

When last week’s fires wiped out more than 100 homes, so much of the heart of Yarloop – including the Millar’s historic timber workshops – was lost.

Out of the wake of last week’s catastrophic fire, the State Government and displaced residents have already vowed to rebuild their town.

Yarloop was never expected to regain the timber-top heights of its glory days from the early 1900s.

It remains to be seen if it can even recover all that stood a week ago.