The Old Mill  (Including The Narrows Bridge)

The Old Mill was the Colony's first successful wind powered flour mill.  Even though it is now nearly 150 years since it last ground flour, it still manages to make dough out of tourists.

The Old Mill is in fact the second mill built by Mr William Shenton, on the promontory of Point Belches, in South Perth.  His first effort was completed in 1833, and was destroyed the following year by the local indigenous people.  Perth's first major industrial site, had rather unexpectedly become our  first major demolition site. Not to be deterred by this minor setback, a second mill was constructed in 1835.   To discourage any further attacks, the mill was strengthened with thick stone walls, and now resembled a fortress.  Being located on a promontory, the Old Mill was ideally situated to take advantage of water transport along the Swan River, between Fremantle and Guildford.  Another advantage was it's closeness to Perth, and good exposure to windy conditions.

The Old Mill.

 

The Old Mill.

With the cut wheat arriving, and ground flour leaving via the Swan River, the wind driven mill was soon producing up to 680kg of flour each day.  This all sounded good, but unfortunately it was unprofitable when compared to other forms of milling.  Production ceased in 1859, as other mills were now being built  closer to the farms, roads improved, and eventually in 1881, the Fremantle to Guildford railway was completed.  With an effective railway system in use, the Swan River was no longer heavily relied upon for transportation.

View from Mount Eliza in Kings Park.

View of Point Belches in South Perth where the Old Mill is located.  The area is now more commonly referred to as the Mill Point Peninsular.  The Narrows Bridge spans the Swan River at this point.

In 1880 an architect named Mr Thomas Brown leased the Mill, and converted the grounds into a hotel and picnic site called the "Alta Gardens".  He even added a verandah, and altered the roof, as the wind sails had a nasty habit of chopping off guests during conversation.  Just like Mr Shenton, he too was forced to close the project, as it became unprofitable.  Other ideas to make a dollar out of the Old Mill have included a timber mill, printing press, wine saloon, poultry farm, private residence, and a folk museum.  Today the Old Mill carves out a fine existence as a Perth Heritage Building, and tourist site.  As soon as we get our hands on it, we plan to transform it into a Dalek, as the existing design is just crying out for this low cost modification. 

The Old Dalek.

 

An alternative use for the Old Mill.  Exterminate! Exterminate!

A Narrow Escape:  It is hard not to notice the Narrows Bridge when visiting the Old Mill.  The two structures are extremely close to each other.  During the late 1950's the Old Mill was in danger of being demolished for the construction of the Kwinana Freeway and Narrows Bridge.  Luckily it was saved,  due in main to the intervention of local residents.  The freeway route was changed, and takes a gradual turn to avoid the Old Mill.

The Narrows Bridge.

The Narrows Bridge.

Perth Water from the Narrows Bridge.

Pictured here are two views taken from the Narrows Bridge.  The top image is looking upstream into the expanse of Perth Water.  The City of Perth can be seen on the left, and Point Belches in South Perth on the right.   Looking downstream (below) we can see Mount Eliza in Kings Park.  This is a great place to visit, and provides some panoramic views of Perth.  The red building seen on the shoreline is the Old Swan Brewery. The river then opens up into another, even wider expanse known as Melville Water.   

Mount Eliza from the Narrows Bridge looking downstream.

 

If you walk or sail under the bridge, look up and you will be in for a surprise.  The Narrows Bridge is actually three separate bridges.  The first Narrows Bridge was opened for traffic on the 13th of November, 1959.  With an increasing population, traffic volumes expanded, so a new bridge was opened in 2001.  It is west of, and adjacent to the original structure.  In between these two bridges, a third was constructed, for the Southern Suburbs Railway.  

Under the Narrows Bridge.

 

The original 1959 bridge is on the right.  The railway bridge in the centre, is less than 6 metres wide.  Daylight shines down between the gaps.

Melville Water from the Narrows Bridge.

The Narrows Bridge is approximately 335 metres long, and it connects the Mitchell and Kwinana Freeways in Perth.  It spans the river across a narrow section from Point Belches.  The Swan River is very wide in places, and the Narrows Bridge is the first crossing upstream from the mouth at Fremantle Harbour.  It performs an important role, by connecting the Northern and Southern suburbs of Perth.

Melville Water.

 

LOCATION:  Find the Old Mill near the end of the Mill Point Peninsular (Point Belches), just behind the Narrows Bridge.

Copyright 2007 LifeOnPerth.com