Keenan’s Number 1 Mill was the first pine sawmill in Margaret River. The mill was built in 1961 and operated until 1967 and all that remains of it today is the round brick chimney standing in the middle of the bush.
You can visit this local curiosity as part of a bushwalk along the tracks and trails that criss-cross the forest surrounding the Bramley Brook and Wharncliffe Mill, north of Carters Road and west of Bussell Highway. An information sign at the site explains what the chimney is and why it is there.
What was the chimney used for?
The chimney was built to contain the fire used to burn off the off-cuts of timber and excess saw dust. Previously the burning had been done in a pit nearby, but that was too much of a bush fire risk.
Keenan’s Number 1 Mill and Keenan’s Number 2 Mill (The Wharncliffe Saw Mill)
Margaret River’s second pine saw mill, Keenan’s Number 2 Mill (also known as the Wharncliffe Saw Mill) was built a short distance to the east of Keenan’s Number 1 Mill. It opened in 1967 when the Number 1 Mill closed and operated for 14 years, closing in 1982.
These days the old Wharncliffe Saw Mill site is used as a camping ground, with campsites for tents and caravans, dorms, safari tents and cabins. I highly recommend it as a fantastic place to stay if you’re after budget accommodation in a natural bush setting close to Margaret River.
The huge hangar-like undercover area housing the camp kitchen, dorms and recreation space was converted from the original Keenan’s Number 2 Mill working mill building.
The Warncliffe Mill campground and the Keenan’s Number 1 Mill site are linked via a walking track through the bush, part of the Old Chimney Trail (see below)…
How to Get to Keenan’s Number 1 Mill
If you’re curious about the Keenan’s Number 1 Mill old chimney and would like to see it for yourself, the only way to get there is on foot. The shortest and quickest way to get there is to park at Wharncliffe Mill campground and walk around behind the playground and down to the Barna Mia Aboriginal meeting circle, where you’ll see some tracks into the forest.
Follow the track that leads downhill to the right, following the small yellow triangle “Chimney Trail” signs. Confusingly, the big brown wooden sign that says “Chimney Trail” points in the opposite direction to the yellow triangles – away from the old chimney… or at least, it points you the long way round the old chimney circuit trail!
The wide gravel track leads straight downhill from Wharncliffe Mill and when you reach a junction take the right branch then have a look around the corner to the left, where you’ll find the chimney standing in a clearing surrounded by peppermint trees and tall yellow grass.
Sidetrip – Margaret River Arboretum: you can also do a 5 minute loop walk from the Old Chimney along a trail through the Margaret River Arboretum, a patch of trees from elsewhere in Australia and around the world planted in orderly lines and labelled. The Arboretum is located north-east of the Chimney next to Bussell Highway.
Alternatively you can get to Keenan’s No 1 Mill from Bussell Highway, but although the chimney is very close to the highway it is difficult to find the right spot to park and walk through if you’ve never been there before.
- The Carters Road Trails details the three loop walks beginning at the Carters Road trailhead, of which the Old Chimney Trail is one. The three trails are interlinked and can be combined (see link below).
- An Afternoon Bush Walk Near Margaret River Town has photos and notes from a lovely springtime walk beginning at the Carters Road Trailhead that incorporated part of the Old Chimney Walk.
Last Updated: 2nd September, 2015.
First posted on 27th January, 2015 by Bonny.
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