European settlement of Oak Park

European settlement in the Oak Park area occurred in 1899 when the entrepreneurial James Forward took up property in the area. Forward had a good knowledge of bushcraft and he led other potential settlers to available sites.

Soon he was joined by a small group from South Australia who were attracted to the West by the prospect of finding gold and buying land cheaply.

Oak Park School

In August 1912 residents of Oak Park lodged an application with the Education Department for a school to be built at Walyormouring.

A single room Jarrah weatherboard, corrugated iron roofed school was built and opened in July 1913 with Miss Lilias Nickoll as teacher and children from the Spark, Fair and Cummings families.

In 1914 the school had 11 students and Olive Frearson replaced Miss Nickoll at the end of the year.

A large sugar gum tree was planted by student Sophia Spark in 1914 at the school. Sophia’s sugar gum lived until 2005.

The school inspector remarked that Walyormouring was a ‘model school’ under Miss Frearson’s direction.

By 1920 the number of students was 13. In 1921 the school was moved to a new site, and then closed forever in 1934 due to there being too few students.

Oak Park Picnic Days

The Oak Park settlers enjoyed such a strong sense of community that the first Oak Park picnic held on 7 September 1906 attracted 80 people who dressed in their best clothes and enjoyed a supper and a variety of sports, games, races, tug-of-war and tossing sheaths of hay.

Oak Park Picnic

Attendance at the sixth annual Oak Park picnic day in 1912 reached an all time high of 200 prompting the local Progress Association to think about building an Agricultural Hall. After raising money locally and successfully applying to the State Government for matching grant-in-aid they built a 14 x 9 metre weatherboard and iron hall in 1914. Oak Park picnic days were then celebrated in the hall with lavish lunches and a ball in the evening.

At other times the Oak Park Agricultural Hall was used for fortnightly Methodist and Anglican Church services and election voting.

A picnic was organised and attended in 2006 by Oak Park residents to celebrate the centenary of the inaugural Oak Park picnic day.

Oak Park Cricket Club

The Oak Park Cricket Club was formed in 1904 and in 1907 the members raised money to have a concrete cricket pitch laid. The Oak Park cricket team competed against teams from Goomalling, Dowerin and Batbatting.

Balardong people

The Balardong are the Indigenous people of Goomalling. When you visit Goomalling’s Oak Park, you can see evidence of the traditional Balardong way of life before European settlement.