A paddle from South Yunderup to the historic Cooper's Mill and back via a different channel.
Cooper’s Mill is thought to be the first flour mill constructed in the district and the only one to remain in existence.
The location of Cooper’s Mill on a small island, with access only by boat, reflects the importance of water transport in the early settlement of Western Australia.
Joseph Cooper commenced construction of Cooper’s Mill in 1843 and it was completed by
his sons, James and Thomas, after Joseph’s death.
Joseph and Elizabeth Cooper arrived aboard the Warrior in 1830 with four of their eight
children, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Joseph and Mary Anne.
A house was built facing the main channel of the river, not far from the mill. Cooper did most
of the work himself and left the running of the family farm to his eldest son.
Cooper died following a cart accident in 1847 and his son, Joseph Jr, was left the family
property in Pinjarra. The mill at Yunderup was left to his younger brothers, Thomas and
James. James and Thomas completed the mill with the help of Dan Myerick, a carpenter,
and Josiah Stinton, and it was in use by 1850.
In the early 1860s, the mill was converted to steam power by the addition of a room built on
the south side of the mill. In the floods of 1862, the newly installed steam plant was flooded
and the mill suffered the loss of flour and grain.
The bulk of grain producing country was centred further inland and by 1865, Cooper’s Mill
closed down and the machinery sold to Captain Fawcett for his small mill at Pinjarra. The
mill building was unused for years and later used as a smoke house for the curing of fish.
The family leased the whole island as a stock run prior to the 1880s, eventually abandoning
The abandoned house and mill were pillaged for their materials. Around the beginning of
the 20th century the mill housed a recluse.
Carelessly lit fires resulted in the destruction of the stairs and lower floor timbers.
In 1930 the Murray Roads Board assumed responsibility for the care of the mill following the
wishes of the Cooper family to have the building conserved.
In the ensuing years, little was done to conserve the mill, which became the cause of some animated correspondence between the Cooper family and the Roads Board. In 1949 the
land was gazetted as a Reserve for the purpose of ‘Camping and Recreation’ and vested
with the Shire of Murray.
Some remedial works were undertaken in the 1950s but it was not until 1984 that a large
program of work was undertaken under a CEP project. The project saw the reconstruction
of the engine house, and re-roofing of the mill.
In 1984, a Toilet Block was constructed followed by a Caretaker’s Residence in 1986.
Between 2002 and 2005, significant works were undertaken on the mill and reserve;
removing asbestos slates on both the mill building and engine room, reconfiguration of the
roof to its original pitch and re-roofing in shingles. Re-pitching also meant increasing the
height of the engine room walls. The verandah was reconfigured in pitch, re-roofed in
shingles and support poles replaced in timber to reflect the original fabric. The mill building
interior walls were also repointed.
Mooring facilities have been upgraded on the south side of the island, upgrading of picnic
area with new shelters, seating, BBQs, play equipment, lawn and landscaping.
My name is Mark McIntosh, but everyone calls me Macr.