Wyalkatchem, Western Australia
|Population||344 (2006 Census)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Wyalkatchem|
|State electorate(s)||Central Wheatbelt|
Wyalkatchem townsite is located in the central agricultural region, 192 kilometres (119 mi) east-north-east of Perth and 35 kilometres (22 mi) east of Dowerin. At the 2006 census, Wyalkatchem had a population of 344.
When the extension of the railway east from Dowerin was planned in 1908 land was set aside for a future townsite in the area of Wyalcatchem Tank. The route of the railway and site for a station was not fixed until 1910, and action followed to then fix the position of the townsite and survey town lots. Following the survey of the lots the townsite was gazetted spelt Wyalkatchem in 1911.
When the railway from Dowerin opened in February 1911, Wyalkatchem was a minor siding only, but its importance grew when it was selected as the turnout point for a branch line leading north and then east to the Mount Marshall district. Thus a small village quickly blossomed on the town site. The branch line to Bencubbin opened on 1 February 1915 and the line from Dowerin was extended to Merredin in August, 1911.
The extensive railway barracks in town are leased by the shire council from the Western Australian Governments Railway Commission. The barracks represent one of the few intact examples of its kind in Australia and are currently used as accommodation during Dowerin Field Days and as the headquarters of a hang-gliding club.
Wyalkatchem is an Aboriginal name first recorded for a waterhole spelt Walkatching in the 1870s. The spelling Walcatching was used in 1881 when the Toodyay Road Board referred to a tank to be built there, and when the road from Northam to the Yilgarn Goldfield was surveyed in 1892 the spelling Wyalcatchem was used for the tank. The Walkatching spelling is probably the most accurate, as Aboriginal names in this region rarely end in em. The change of spelling from Wyalcatchem to Wyalkatchem in 1911 was done by the Department of Lands & Surveys according to rules the Department had adopted for spelling Aboriginal names. The meaning of the name is not known.
Home to a Cooperative Bulk Handling receival point that can hold nearly 120,000 tonnes of grain and crops, the primary industry in the area are wheat and sheep farming. The town also supports a gypsum mine that is situated just outside of town at Lake Cowcowing.
In 2013 Wyalkatchem hosted the inaugural Racewars event, organised by The Racewars Group. The event saw 200 competitors and over 3000 spectators witness some of Western Australia's fastest vehicles race head-to-head and against the clock on the 1500m airstrip at the Wyalkatchem airport. After the success of the inaugural event, Wyalkatchem has agreed to host the event for another 5 years.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Wyalkatchem (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- All Change at Wyalkatchem Milne, Rod Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, July 1991 pp 155–162
- "Wheatbelt - Heritage update". 2003. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
- Western Australian Land Information Authority. "History of country town names". Retrieved 25 March 2007.
- "Country elevators". The West Australian (Perth, Western Australia: National Library of Australia). 6 July 1932. p. 10. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Gypsum Industries". 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
- "Wyalkatchem is Australia’s Tidiest Town". 2003. Retrieved 2011-02-05.