Pickering Brook is a part of the Eastern Rural Districts area of the Shire of Kalamunda and is bordered by Carmel, Bickley, Hacketts Gully, Paulls Valley and the Korung National Park.
One of WA’s most prolific stone-fruit growing regions, Pickering Brook is a mix of State Forest, catchment areas, hobby farms, orchards and vineyards.
Pickering Brook is located within and adjacent to Korung National Park. It is also in close proximity to Victoria Reservoir and Barton’s Mill. The award winning Core Cider House is also located in Pickering Brook along with some boutique wineries.
When the sailing vessel, the Atwick, arrived in the Swan River Colony in October 1829, amongst the passengers was one Captain Edward Picking. He was permitted to select 6070 acres some along the Avon River, others around the Helena River, where Picking had explored. A map dated 1835 shows that a small tributary which flowed north into the Helena River was called Picking’s Creek. It is likely that this name was corrupted over time to become Pickering rather than Picking.
Meanwhile, in the 1860s Benjamin Mason, recognizing the value of the local Jarrah trees (known as Swan River Mahogany) established the beginnings of the Jarrah timber milling activity in the hills.
After cutting the timber, the problem was how to transport it to the port of Fremantle for export. A wooden tramway system was used for a few years in the 1870s but was less than ideal and when his partner, Francis Bird, pulled out of the company, Mason soon went broke (1881). The infant timber industry needed a rail line to assist it, to join up with Midland which, in turn, was linked by rail to Fremantle.
In 1891 Edward Keane had supervised the construction of a railway line which ultimately went through to what was known as Pickering Junction and then on a spur line through to Canning Mills and Karragullen.
After the arrival of the Upper Darling Range Railway, the timber industry flourished. And an increasing number of people came to the area, especially to Canning Mills.
By 1903 the government had been lobbied successfully to take over the railway line as far as Pickering Junction and provide a passenger service as well as a log transport service. The line on to Karragullen was not purchased by the government so the Pickering Junction became a terminus, no longer a junction. A substantial station at the re-named Pickering Brook was constructed and a shop was built and run by the Humphreys family. A busy year!
Meanwhile, in 1891, the Victoria Reservoir was built in the Carmel / Bickley area. Pickering Brook was in the water catchment area so a settlement near the brook was discouraged. As a result, in 1922 a townsite was created two miles further east. At first it was known as Beamulla (Black Cockatoo) but later, in 1926, changed to Carilla (running water). In 1952 the townsite of Carilla was cancelled and the whole area became known as Pickering Brook, finally gazetted as such in 1973.
Meanwhile, in an effort to re-settle the soldiers returning from World War One, a Soldiers’ Settlement Act was passed in 1918. One of the numerous locations selected around the state for the scheme was an area along Piesse Brook, from Pickering Brook to where it is crossed by Mundaring Weir Road. Soldiers, often with no previous knowledge of the land, relied heavily on loans from the state’s Agricultural Bank. Land was cleared the hard way with limited mechanical assistance, and fruit trees planted. Because the fruit trees took years to produce, many returned soldiers could not meet loan repayment deadlines and walked off, forfeiting their land after years of hardship. The 1930s Depression further increased the problem. Some of the properties were purchased by Italian immigrants and others who, through hard work and better times, have been able to greatly contribute to the area’s fruit-growing industry.
More information is also available on the website of the Pickering Brook Heritage Society
See also the book WEBB, E.G. Rails in the Hills : A history of the railway from Midland to Karragullen 1891 – 1949.