The story of the state starts here
Strawberry Hill farm sits on Menang Country at a place called Barmup, meaning ‘place of tall trees’. For tens of thousands of years Barmup was an important campsite and place of shelter for Menang people, situated along a well-worn walking track with a ready supply of fresh water. At the time of the arrival of the British colonisers in 1826 it was the country of Mullett and her brothers – Nakinah, Mokare, Tarapan and Mollian.
In 1826 when the British established a military outpost at King George Sound (later Albany) they were vastly outnumbered and sought to maintain good relations with Menang people, but on their terms. It was on this site that they established the first farm in Western Australia and likely the state’s first fences.
Within 6 months of his arrival in 1833 the new Government Resident at King George Sound, Sir Richard Spencer, purchased the Government Farm, then known as Strawberry Hill. By 1834 he had added a further 1400 acres of land to the original 6 acre holding.
Sir Richard was a retired naval officer living on half pay in England when he accepted Stirling’s offer of the role of Government Resident. As Government Resident Sir Richard conducted his administrative duties from Strawberry Hill while acquiring more farm land to provide for the future of his sons.
The Spencer family lived in a rammed earth cottage until, in 1836, the current two-storey stone house was built adjoining the older home. The well-established gardens were producing blood oranges, grapes, raspberries, gooseberries, asparagus, figs and almonds. The new house was the centre of the district’s social life.
After a period of neglect it was purchased in 1889 by Francis and Augusta Maude Bird who restored the house and farmed the land. In 1956 the property was purchased by the government as a historic monument but fell into another cycle of neglect. Transferred to the National Trust in 1964, the place is being conserved to appropriately reflect its significance.
To the local Menang people, the house, farm and its fences represent both an intangible and physical barrier to their traditional way of life. We have been working hard over recent years to undertake consultation with Menang people to tell these stories as part of the shared history of this cultural landscape.
See, Do, Explore
Soak up the many stories a visit to Strawberry Hill at Barmup offers. Start your visit in the award-winning Visitor Hub, explore new interpretation in the 1836 house and take one of the self-guided tours of the grounds to appreciate the surrounding cultural landscape. Please take note of the closure periods scheduled throughout the year below while planning your visit.
Our helpful local volunteers are on-hand to answer questions and assist you during your visit. Refreshments from the kiosk in the Visitor Hub are available for ticket holders to purchase.
Albany and the Great Southern region is a must-see for tourists and locals alike, with so many incredible sights and experiences to soak up. Whether you’re out for a day or a week, you won’t be disappointed.
For those who want to find out more about the Menang and early colonial history of Albany be sure to visit the Museum of the Great Southern.