The original townsite of ‘Yundurup’ was located on the eight islands in the delta at the mouth of the Murray. Culeenup Island was the town centre and in 1898 blocks of land were advertised for sale at prices ranging from ₤15 to ₤25. Adam Armstrong had built the first settler’s home at Ravenswood in 1838, Jim Jam farm had been settled on the south side of the river after 1835 and the first house at what is now South Yunderup was built by Joseph Tatham in 1886. As farmers and fishermen settled along both sides of the Murray from Ravenswood to the Estuary, these settlements became collectively known as West Murray. Though the townsite of Yundurup had been gazetted in 1898, usage of the name with today’s spelling, Yunderup was not really adopted until after 1973.
The history of West Murray is interwoven with the stories of the first families to settle there. Descendants of many of these families are still living in the area.
The years from 1930 to the 1970’s generated many wonderful tales about personalities who holidayed at West Murray.
The first house at what is now South Yunderup was built by Joseph Tatham who arrived at West Murray in 1886. He bought 100 acres of land where the Tatham Caravan Park still stands and built a house. There he lived with his wife Letitia and their five children. Joe Tatham’s house included a shop, post office and later, a phone box. He also built holiday cottages that remain to this day. Descendants of Joseph Tatham have fished in the Peel Estuary for more than 100 years. Bill Tatham is shown above with a 1946 catch—probably mullet and pilchard. Tailor, kingfish, cobbler and whiting were also caught in the River
During the 20th Century there was a reliance on fishing by many of the families living in the West Murray area. Fishermen sailed out to the inlet on the easterlies early in the morning and sailed back on the westerlies—their nets full of fish. Nets would then be skinned and the fish packed in boxes ready for the dash to the train in Pinjarra.
Meanwhile recreational fishing prawning and crabbing were popular pastimes among holidaymakers.
West Murray Today
During the past 40 years, the changes to ‘’West Murray’ have been substantial. The Yunderup canals were opened in 1972 and other canal projects followed in South Yunderup. In December 1983 the River Resort and restaurant on the site of Young’s farmhouse was opened. Murray Lakes followed and with these new canals came the footbridge over the entrance from the river. In North Yunderup there have been several sub-divisions between the river and Pinjarra Road. At Ravenswood where there are substantial new housing developments, the hotel, bridge, Jim Jam and Thomas Field remain as links with the past.