Campsite & historic ruins of a farming settlement from the 1800s
What remains of the tragedy-filled settlement story of William and Catherine Pumphrey is a beautiful old bridge built in the early 1800s.
A popular cycling route, campsite, picnic area and point of interest for history lovers, Pumphrey's Bridge sits halfway between Wandering and the Dryandra Woodlands, approximately 15 mins either way.
William and Catherine arrived from England in 1854. They had 4 children in all, 3 sons and one daughter. Living first at Pinjarra, the family ended up clearing land for a farm at the present site of Pumphrey's Bridge - known then as Hotham Crossing.
William and his wife worked hard on the land and it looked like they were building a secure future for their family until William's wife died from an asthma attack in 1885, aged 58. William stayed on working the property until he was in his early 60s at which time he retired to Pinjarra to live with his (by now) married daughter Eliza.
William's son, John, had been away working but returned to Pumphrey's Bridge at the age of 34, with his new bride, 15-year-old Isabella in 1888. Later the same year Isabella gave birth to a boy, but sadly the baby died shortly afterwards. Four years later she gave birth to a girl who also died. In 1894 she gave birth to another son (John Jr.) who did survive, and then in 1897, she had a daughter (Frances).
In 1899 a passing traveller found the two children cold and hungry hanging around the homestead waiting for Isabella to 'wake up'. Their mother had been dead for some time and with their father away droving, the children had been lucky indeed that someone had chanced to come along and find them as they were just 5 and 2 years old.
When John Sr. returned to find his wife dead he could not cope with the children. There was no one to look after them at the homestead and he had to leave again to find work. His son was given up to a home and his daughter went to live with a nearby neighbour. John Sr. lived on, on his own until 1908 when he died in Pinjarra from the effects of pneumonia. He was just 54 years old. Two years later his father (William) died from heart failure at the age of 84.
John Jr. fought in the First World War and lived until 1950. Like his father, he died young, only 56 years old. Frances lived on until 1976 but never returned to Pumphrey's Bridge. After a succession of owners over the years the old house fell into disrepair but in 1989 it was purchased and refurbished, a project that took until 1994.
The grave of Catherine Pumphrey is not the only lonely grave site near Wandering. There are at least a dozen others known to exist alongside roads and buildings in the area.
Reference: Pumphrey's Bridge, WA Now & Then, 2019.