IT is easy to forget there is more to the City of Busselton region than just the major population areas.
Just sneaking within the city’s boundary is the little town of Jarrahwood, population circa 23.
Among those who call Jarrahwood home are Helen Payne and Mark Cannon, who are responsible for recording all of the town’s weather data.
Mark, who is also the chairman of the Jarrahwood Community Association and the town’s fire control officer, said he loves the “peace and quiet” of the town.
While Jarrahwood might be often overlooked now, it has not always been that way, with the 65ha townsite once thriving when it was a milling town.
The closure of the mill in 1982 was somewhat of a death knell for the town, with its major industry taken away.
“In its heyday, the mill supported a thriving town – only the vestiges of which remain,” a newspaper report from the time read.
“There were two schools, a hospital, a sizeable town hall, a number of diverse shops, a post office and about 50 company cottages.”
The report noted that the majority of mill workers would transfer to the Nannup mill after the Jarrahwood mill closed, and transport would be provided for Jarrahwood-based workers.
Such reports provide an insight into the contrasts of this town’s history, and ensure that Jarrahwood will retain a presence in the world.
These reports, along with photos showing former residents, buildings and football teams, form a memorabilia wall in the centre of the townsite, alongside a modern toilet block and playground.
While humble, they prove the words spelled out in one report’s headline ‘the town that refused to die’.
Another way that the town refuses to die is by its ongoing presence in weather reports, which have happened since 1974.
Helen and Mark have the town’s weather equipment and record the twice-daily data at 9am and 3pm, by writing temperature, wind and rainfall figures down manually and submitting them electronically, before transferring them to a master book.
It was something Mark took on seven years ago when purchasing the home in which the backyard setup was established, although interestingly, the land his home sits on is not owned outright, as it is government leased.
While the weather recordings can dictate their day, due to the requirements of taking them at certain times, Mark said “it provides a small income, nothing much, but enough to cover the bills”.
Despite its relatively close proximity to Busselton, the climate in Jarrahwood has a number of distinct differences, something Mark puts down to its positioning in a high point of the ridge, with Jarrahwood having an altitude of 130m above sea level.
Jarrahwood averages 919.4mm of rainfall annually, well above Busselton’s long-term average 807.5mm.
The telling statistic is in the average minimums, with Jarrahwood’s annual low averaging 8.5 degrees, much colder than Busselton’s 10.4 degrees.
July nights also get down to an average of 4.8 degrees in Jarrahwood compared to a milder 7.5 degrees in Busselton.
Jarrahwood has also posted 13 nights this year with minimums below freezing, with the year’s record low being an uncomfortable -3 degrees on May 24, which Helen said created frost across the lawn where the weather measurements are taken.
That figure saw Jarrahwood, along with Collie East, take out the ‘honour’ of coldest temperature in WA for that particular day, while Jarrahwood has also featured among the state’s coldest places on numerous other occasions this year.
Located on the fringe of the City of Busselton and Shire of Nannup, but within Busselton territory, Jarrahwood is less than 45km from each of Busselton, Nannup, Capel and Donnybrook.
This unique location allows for nearby access to a number of towns, and also school opportunities.
Helen’s niece Shaylee, who lives with her in Jarrahwood, attends school in Busselton, while her daughter Carla goes the other way, being educated in Nannup.
The nearest school bus stop is located five kilometres away, meaning Helen must do a round-trip to the stop to pick them up.
Access to Jarrahwood by road is relatively straightforward, with the town located close to the Vasse Highway.
An eight-bed house is available for short-term rent in the town, allowing visitors a chance to enjoy an easy rural escape.
Helen and Mark both agree that they love the peace of life in Jarrahwood, where everyone knows each other and they are removed from the urban bustle.
“There’s a couple of houses that prefer to be separate, but otherwise there’s a sense of community,” Mark said.
“We’re happy with the way it is.”