Merredin's built heritage offers a facscinating glimpse into the growth and development of an area that, when first viewed by John Septimus Roe in 1836, was considered arid and inhospitable.
In 1864-1866, Assistant Surveyor Charles Hunt explored the area, and decided to help it along. He called the area Hampton Plains after John Stephen Hampton, who was the Governor of Western Australia at the time. Hunt came back five times after that. The first time was just to explore; the second time, he made a track from waterhole to waterhole so water was available. The third time was when he built a string of dams and wells, which later became known as the York to Goldfields Road, and was the only road from the coast, to the Gold town of Kalgoorlie.
Another Assistant Surveyor, Henry King set up camp on the north side of Merredin Rock, but still, there was no township. The first settlement was established to the north of Merredin Peak on the York to the Goldfields road, but was quickly moved when the railway, which couldn't follow the gradients of Hunts Road, was built a few kilometres to the south.
Like many towns in Western Australia, the discovery of gold sped up Merredin's development. It became a rail centre for the region, due to the availability of fresh water. The original dam, responsible for the fresh water can still be seen today. The original Railway Station can also still be seen, but it is now in the form of a Railway Museum.
C. Y. O'Connor's amazing pipeline, which brings water from Perth to Kalgoorlie cured the curse that had slowed down Merredin's establishment since the beginning. The town and farmland today still relies on water from the pipeline.
In 1940 Australia prepared for an expected invasion from the north. The Central and Eastern Wheatbelt played a significant, but now little recognised role, in preparing for the Country's defense. There are many physical reminders of this in the structures left behind by the Army and RAAF scattered in paddocks and towns in the area. Merredin and Nungarin both have wonderful Military Museums that preserve this heritage and are well worth visiting.