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Armadale

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January 3, 2009 by Sonia Bellhouse

Armadale is situated in the foothills of the Darling Escarpment. It is twenty nine kilometres South East of Perth and about thirty kilometres from Fremantle. A convenient turn off the Albany Highway will take you into the City of Armadale.

Armadale

At the outer limit of the Armadale Town site, near the intersection of the Albany Highway and South West Highway, is the Narrogin Inn. The Tudor-styled inn was built around 1850 to serve the coaches travelling to Bunbury and Albany. Whilst the City's newest building at the other end of town is the Armadale Railway Station. Already it is called a 'white elephant' by some (such as T Ede in a letter to the editor of the Comment News Community, Armadale Edition, 16-22 November 2004, p. 13) and has generated complaints of inaccessibility. It is built as an 'old style' station and has two flights of steps and two lifts to reach the platform.

In between is the green heart of the City of Armadale, Minnawarra Park. Adjacent to this are the council offices and one of the area's three libraries. Other libraries are in Kelmscott and Westfield whilst Roleystone residents plead for a library. Minnawarra Park features an ornamental lake with an attractive bridge to cross. On one side of the lake an old Cape Jackson Fig Tree provides shade. Benches are scattered throughout the area and many water birds make their home on the lake.

Two of Armadale's older buildings have been re-sited here. One is the first Armadale Primary School built around 1900 and the other the Congregational Church built in 1903. It is an attractive venue for Wedding photographs. Additionally the park is home to the popular History House Museum, with its local industry displays, pioneer history and new Noongar cultural display. This features a stunning mosaic as well as an interactive area with a focus on the Noongar language.

Minnawarra Park is the venue of most of the City's celebrations throughout the year. The next event will be the Highland Gathering and cycle classic this year held in November. Entry is free and there will be a Scottish flavour to dancing, food, stalls and entertainment. Many of the districts early settlers were Scots. December is traditionally 'Carols in Minnawarra', an event enjoyed by all and usually graced by good weather.

In January Armadale hosts its own Australia Day Celebrations. The event is well deservedly popular and features live groups and singers on the main stage, amusement rides, stalls and displays. The event finishes with a well-coordinated firework display. It is broadcast on Heritage FM radio for the musical effects as the fireworks are beautifully reflected on the lake. Crowds are good humoured and last year's event was unmarred by the sort of violence that was reported in Perth.

Armadale has enough old buildings to enable a visitor to imagine what the original town was like. These include The Old Post Office, situated next to the Tourist Information Centre and Bert Tyler Vintage Machinery Museum. The Old Town Hall and the Old Road's Board Office. The Tourist Information Centre building was once the Armadale Railway Station.

Armadale

Juxtaposed against this is the modern Armadale Shopping City with two major supermarkets and sixty other stores. Plans are underway to expand the shopping centre. A new cinema is destined to open late December or early January. At present the Pioneer Village Cinema gives an 'old-time' cinematic experience but with modern films at a reasonable price, including free tea or coffee. The Pioneer Village is just past the Narrogin Inn along Albany Highway and features speciality shops and a restaurant as well as the cinema.

Armadale has the usual fast food outlets, two Chinese restaurants, an Indian restaurant, two fish and chip shops, and cafes. The Manse Restaurant is in the original 'manse' or Minister's house of the Old Congregational Church. The building dates to 1907 but the award winning food and service are popular locally.

The hills above Armadale have some spectacular homes, many with breathtaking views of the City. However they have been designated "Mount Nasura " and thus escape the stigma and lower prices of Armadale. Other suburbs have also been redesignated as "Mount Richon", "Seville Grove" and "Brookdale"; thus enabling residents not to identify with Armadale.

Housing is affordable throughout with many still on larger than average blocks. Hills homes offer stunning views and valley homes have a pleasant outlook towards the hills. There are good government and non-government schools with plans for another high school and TAFE centre. Diverse ranges of community groups cater to most interests, whether cultural, sporting or social.

There is an unhurried feel to Armadale. It has a unique character because of the friendly, small-town feel. Armadale is continually predicted as having a bright future and certain areas have benefited enormously in recent years. Whilst others, such as the older West Armadale, have seen little in the way of development or refurbishment. By not having an up-market redesignation they have been left out of real estate development progress.

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