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History of Dumbleyung

How Dumbleyung became ... well, Dumbleyung

Dumbleyung's name is of Noongar origin, coming from "Dambeling" which possibly means "large lake or inland sea" (although another source suggests it came from "dumbung", a game played with bent sticks and a hard piece of fruit.

The lake nearby was discovered and named "Dambeling Lake" by explorers Henry Landor and Henry Maxwell Lefroy in 1843, and the current spelling was used by surveyors in the 1860s and 1870s. Pastoralists and sandalwood cutters moved into the area, initially settling at Nippering, north of Lake Dumbleyung.


The first three families to settle in the area were the Cronin, Kersley and Bartram families. George Kersley, Sr. and his future son-in-law Henry Bartram were from pioneer families of the Beverley district and they used to take their sheep flocks from Beverley to Lake Dumbleyung for grazing. In 1875 Kersley received the first grazing leases and the Cronin family from Cork Ireland settled at "Bunkin" in 1878. Bartram settled his young family at "Wheatfield" on the edge of the Lake in 1886.


John & Eliza Cronin


George Kersley Sr, Richard Spanswick & W Quinn


Henry Bartram

In 1907, Dumbleyung was gazetted as a townsite and became the terminus of a railway from Wagin.

Tenders were called for the construction of an Agricultural Hall in 1909, and it was completed by 1910. The National Bank temporarily opened its town branch in the hall.

By 1915, Dumbleyung had grown to become the major rural service town in the region.


Opening of the original
Dumbleyung Town Hall in 1910.

1 New and Old Town Halls - PG 35.tif

The old and new halls in 1929. The old hall was auctioned and dismantled and is now the carpark for the new Town Hall.

Dumbleyung Town Hall


Dumbleyung Town Hall 



1 New and Old Town Halls - PG 35.tif
Town Hall 1.jpg


The traditional owners of the area are the Noongar peoples. The lake is part of a dreaming trail that extends from the south coast near Augusta to the Great Victoria Desert country to the north east. Other features along the trail include Mulka's CaveWave RockJilakin Rock, Jitarning Rock and Puntapin Rock.

For an authentic Aboriginal tour experience visit Wuddi Aboriginal Cultural Tours.

The explorers Henry Landor and Henry Maxwell Lefroy are usually credited with the discovery of Dumbleyung Lake, although it appears to have been shown on a map in 1839 with the name Kondening Lake.

Grazing leases around the lake were first granted to George Kersley in 1875.


Dumbleyung Lake received world recognition when Donald Campbell broke the world water speed record on it on 31 December 1964, travelling at 444.66 km/h (276.3 mph) in his boat Bluebird K7.

A granite memorial to Campbell can be seen at Pussy Cat Hill, a prominent feature and vantage point to view the entire lake area.

In recent times, the increased soil salination has made the area unsuitable for grazing. Today the lake is mainly used for aquatic recreation.

Despite the extreme salinity of the lake, it provides a habitat for many varieties of water birds, and since 1963 has been protected by the Dumbleyung Lake Nature Reserve.

The lake is recognised as a DIWA wetland as it is a drought refuge for water birds and a moulting area for the Australian shelduck, it is one of the five sites in the Avon-Wheatbelt area and what the Shire logo represents.

Australian shelduck.jpg

Click here for maps, photos and MORE.

The man, the legend... Donald Malcolm Campbell

Born 23 March 1921 was a British speed record breaker who broke eight (8) absolute world speed records on water and on land in the 1950s and 1960s. He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year (1964). He died during a water speed record attempt at Coniston Water in the Lake District, England. Click HERE for more.

Donald Campbell Sculpture - by Christine Bairstow.jpg
Interpretive Panel - Donald Campbell Sculpture - PRINT FILE A3 Size.jpg

The jet engine hydroplane, Bluebird K7

K7 was the first successful jet-powered hydroplane, and was considered revolutionary when launched in January 1955.

Donald Campbell was killed in an accident with a much modified K7, on 4 January 1967, whilst making a bid for his eighth water speed record, with his aim to raise the record to over 300 miles per hour (480 km/h) on Coniston Water.

Works to website in progress

Please come back another time.


First Families





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