Denmark Western Australia - A Local's Tour Guide

History of Denmark, WA


A brief History of Denmark:
For the full history of Denmark we suggest you visit the Denmark Historical Museum.

Pre European:
The Aboriginal people, the Noognar had been around for 40,000 years.

1624: The Dutch were the first to explore the south coast of Australia around current day Denmark.

1829: A British outpost has been set up in Albany in 1826 and the first European explorer to discover Denmark was Dr. Thomas Braidwood Wilson, a surgeon, and he named the town after his esteemed colleague Alexander Denmark. Wilson reported positively on the area.

1895: The first settlers arrived. The Millar brothers, Edwin and Charles, obtained leases on the timber in the area. They opened several sawmills in Denmark. The town was created to house the families of those working at the sawmills. Wood was used to build workers homes, several stores and the town bridge. A high demand for timber from Europe and around the world and the nearby goldrush kept the sawmills busy. The timber was being used in construction of all types. Denmark was populated at that time by over 1000 timber workers and their families.

1896: The first school opened on the site of what is now the Denmark Arts building and the RSL Hall now stands on the site of the first headmaster's house.

1899: The first church was built, now known as St. Leonard's Anglican Church, which is now the oldest remaining building in Denmark.

1900: Milling was at its peak and Denmark had a thriving population of around 2000. The demand for karri timber was high all around the world and a new railway line was built to aid transportation.Timber was sent along the Nornalup-Albany Railway and was exported by boat. Denmark town was alcohol free, a 'dry town'.

1902: Millars Karri and Jarrah Company was formed from the merging of seven major sawmillers. The forests were being harvested at a tremendous rate and without thought for sustainability.

1903: The easily accessed millable trees were soon all cut down leaving the families and workers short of a livelihood. The Millars closed down the Denmark mills and school and the company town of Denmark was no longer 'required'.

1904: The church was closed and the Millars started to close down the town and were set to demolish the buildings. Only a few millworkers and their families remained. Alfred Randall is the local hero who saved Denmark, he petitioned the Government to protect all that had already been achieved and to pay out the Millars.

1907: The WA Government bought the town (land, buildings, the mills and the railway) for £5,000 from the Millars after a long negotiation period. They made it possible for people to settle again in Denmark but this was slow.

1909: The Church re-opened.

1910: The Butter factory opened to assist the Dairy farming industry. Dairy farming had become the major industry in the area.

1913: Denmark's population had re-grown to over 500, the school reopened as the Denmark State School.

1914 - 1918: This time of WW1 saw a virtual cessation of normal life. It brought hardship and loss on all levels.

1922: After WW1, the Group Settlement Scheme, focused on large scale assisted immigration to Australia, brought families to the area. Settlers were to develop a sustainable dairy industry. Small farms of 100 acres were cleared for cattle, dairy farming and orchards. The cost of setting up each farm was grossly miscalculated and the scheme collapsed with just over one third of the proposed farms were ever developed. The Red Cross Building was used to facilitate the Denmark groups.

1923: The first Police Station was built, which is now the site of the Historical Museum.

1927: The Denmark Hotel was built by John Clarke (who also commissioned the bandstand on the opposite side of the river which opened in 1964.)

1930's: The great depression saw the town's second mass desertion. Many of the alloted farms from Group Settlement simply could not be sustained and families were forced to move out. Again the population dwindled.

1939- 1945: American soldiers, stationed in Albany during World War II, made trips to Denmark, therefore encouraging tourism providing facilities for them such as coffee shops and places to buy gifts.

Post 1945: Denmark became a popular holiday destination for Western Australians.

1960s: The population had increased to 1,500 and Denmark was a popular destination for hippies, people who liked the peaceful country life and retirees. Intensive agriculturists such as wine growers had discovered the value of the rich karri loam for their vineyards. Within 50 years the area became a wine subregion of critical acclaim, as part of the Great Southern Wine Region.

1965: Fire Brigade Quarters were built.

2012: Today Denmark's is a peaceful town of around 5000. The economy is sustained by a combination of tourism, dairy and cattle farming, fishing and the arts. The people are "a colourful mix of different characters, individualists, followers of natural care, spiritualists, naturalists, artisans, artists and retired people of all ages from all parts of the world." says Wikipedia. (We tend to agree.)

Historical Museum of Denmark

Historical Museum of Denmark

Historical Museum of Denmark

Denmark Town Centre

Denmark Town Centre

Group Settlement Scheme posters
Government of Western Australia c.1920

Wikipedia Group Settlement

Wikipedia Group Settlement Scheme

Accommodation in Denmark
This destination of distinction in Western Australia offers you a relaxed environment, friendly people and a simply stunning scenic backdrop.

An inspiring selection of quality accommodation of all types is available in and out of town. Not only is each accommodation choice truly beautiful with your perfect stay in mine, but the locations are simply sublime! Choose from a range of Self Contained, Luxury, Bed & Breakfast, Farms Stays and Spa Retreats. Choose your perfect place to relax from treetop hideaways, to bed and breakfast's with sensational views, farm stays for that close to nature experience, spa retreats for luxury and indulgence or self contained cottages in the most wonderful locations plus lots more...

All the featured accommodation providers on this website have been selected for their unique properties and exceptional service. We are sure you will find what you are looking for in Denmark.





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Denmark Western Australia on the South Coast of Western Australia is part of a national biosphere area and deserves our care and respect. Please try to be responsible for your environmental impact when visiting Denmark WA.