Kalamunda pioneer biographies paint fascinating picture of early settlers


Gael Connell of Kalamunda. Picture: David Baylis.
Gael Connell of Kalamunda. Picture: David Baylis.

TWO biographies written by local author Gael Connell on Kalamunda’s influential pioneers are now available to the public to read.

Ms Connell said she had donated digital and hard copies of her biographies on Swiss migrant Samuel Burkhardt and Italian migrant Antonio Pagotto to the National Archives of Australia and the State Library of WA.

“Each of the biographies took more than two years to research and compile, which involved long days researching by day and writing by night,” she said.

“Antonio Marco Pagotto was the father of Italian chain migration to Kalamunda back in the 1950s.

“He bought 40 acres of land in Falls Road and initially created a one-acre orchard.

“From this small, but humble hills beginning there began an impressive and increasing chain migration of his fellow countrymen to the region.

“Descendants of his family are still today contributing greatly to this area’s cultural and economic diversity.”

Ms Connell said Swiss migrant Samuel Burkhardt arrived in Kalamunda in 1893 where he later built a florist and grocery shop on the corner of Haynes and Railway Road.

She said Burkhardt became a member of the first Darling Range Roads Board and was influential in the establishment of Haynes Street.

“Burkhardt also participated in Kalamunda’s initial street landscaping project (under the supervision of pioneer, Archibald Anderson), and the rows of pine trees still stand today along Canning and Railway Roads,” she said.

Ms Connell said she hoped her biographies would inspire more Hills’ residents to research the history of their properties.

“During World War II I lived in a big, old house on the banks of the Collie River,” she said.

“It had a cracked tennis court on one side, a marvellous orchard on the other, and stables at the back above the river.

“I was then, and still now, fascinated by who built these houses and where they come from.”

Ms Connell said when she moved to Lesmurdie she started researching the area and received a Curtin Unversity grant to compile the history of Kalamunda pioneers, the Orange family.

“The grant was designed to motivate property owners to research the history of their own land,” she said.

“To this day any time I see a house for sale, I note the agent’s address and forward him a summary of the property’s history.”

For digital access to the pioneer biographies, go to the State Library website and search for Samuel Burkhardt or Antonio Pagotto.

MORE: Maddington man charged with deprivation of liberty, assault of woman

MORE: Armadale woman charged with 75 fraud offences … since January

MORE: Mitchell Freeway shutdowns from Sunday – here’s what you need to know

MORE: The fun police are coming for the humble sausage sizzle