The Western Australian town of Merredin is an ideal base for grey nomads to explore the many attractions of the wheatbelt … and it’s also a bit of a winner in its own right!
With a population of around 3,000, it boasts a thriving commercial centre with all of the shops and facilities you would expect of a major service centre.
Located on the Great Eastern Highway, approximately halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie, Merredin really began its life as little more than a stopping point for prospectors on their way to the goldfields.
However, things started to change when the railway arrived in 1893, and then soon afterwards a rock wall was built around the contours of Merredin Peak.
This structure directed all the water which landed on the 361-metre high hill into a dam which then provided water for both the town and the railway. Although no longer necessary due to the construction of a water pipeline more than a century ago, the entire wall is still intact and is well worth a look to see early settler ingenuity at its best.
There are some excellent walks and trails to be enjoyed here. Merredin’s first railway station was built in 1895 and new one constructed in 1968. At that time, the local Historical Society took over the original station and it is now houses a superb railway museum packed with a vast array of railway memorabilia.
Standing alongside is the iconic old railway water tower, which still advertises the no-longer-brewed Kalgoorlie Bitter. The nearby Military Museum is also worth a look and it boasts a large number of historic working military vehicles, and many visitors also enjoy looking at the monumental CBH Grain Transfer Terminal, reputedly the largest horizontal wheat storage facility in the southern hemisphere.
Merredin is also part of the Public Silo Trail, thanks to artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers who created giant artworks on four of the eight concrete silo cells at CBH Merredin.
There are no shortages of reminders of the township’s interesting history. The town hall was built in 1925 and boasts a magnificent clock tower which is a memorial for the local soldiers who died during World War I. Also of note are the Post Office built back in 1913, a court house that opened in 1934, and the magnificent Cummins Theatre.
The theatre was actually built from parts of another theatre and old pubs that all began life in Coolgardie. According to local legend, the re-cycled bricks of the Cummins Theatre still have small deposits of gold in them. The venue still regularly puts on some excellent shows which are well received by travelling grey nomads and locals alike.
The pet-friendly Merredin Tourist Park is well regarded by travellers, and there is also free 24-hour RV parking at the Merredin Peak Reserve.
With all the other wonders of the wheatbelt region within striking distance, as well as Wave Rock and wildflowers, it’s no wonder that Merredin is such a hit with increasing numbers of grey nomads.