The History of Fairbridge Farm

Have you got your booze for Fairbridge Festival this weekend?

Fairbridge was initially settled in 1912 when Kinglsey Fairbridge and his wife Ruby arrived in Albany, WA after their long voyage from England and ventured north with plans to cultivate land near Pinjarra for a farm school.

The cottages and farm have had a long and not always so bright history and tradition, as it was initially created for use as housing for children's schooling and education shortly before World War I. Children, many of whom were orphans, were picked from the streets of Britain in the hopes of offering them a new life in the colonies down under.

By World War II, Dutch refugee children which had been evacuated from Indonesia following the capture of Singapore by the Japanese and were stationed at Fairbridge as they waited to be reunited with their families. Guilford Grammar School was even forced to relocate to Fairbridge for a short period as their school was conscripted as a local hospital base during the war.

From 1913 to 1982, Fairbridge Farm School housed 3,580 children who attended under various child migration schemes, providing the children with a solid foundation in task learning, husbandry, metal and wood work set in the rural landscape just out of Pinjarra.

However, in 1949 report provided to the British Home Office, former Fairbridge principal Dallas Patterson warned of rampant abuse at the farm school with countless reports over the decades of regular sexual, psychological and physical abuse at the hands of caretakers and other child migrants at the farm property.

This dark, unsettling past has lead many visitors to suspect that Fairbridge farm is haunted and nowadays, the property is one of the most well renown hot spots in Western Australia for paranormal activity with countless eerie tales of phantom children, disappearing objects and ghostly sightings. Whilst Fairbridge was mostly a strict yet fun and enjoyable experience for the many students who spent time here during the 1900s.

Pinjarra is a small timber town in the Peel region of Western Australia established for the fast growing demand for local Jarrah timber known as ‘Swan River Mahogany’. The term Pinjarra was most likely coined from the local indigenous population known as the Pindjarup people and was first settled by Thomas Peel who established a settlement at the mouth of the Murray River in 1830.

By 1834, word had spread about the regions incredibly rich loamy soils which would one day make for incredible wine growing land and the bounty of local pastures for raising livestock which attracted many other Europeans to the area. By the turn of the century, Pinjarra’s population was a measly 400 (300 males and 100 females)!

Today, the property at Fairbridge is most commonly used for camping, tourism and local music festivals, the largest being the Fairbridge Festival which has continued annually since its inception in 1993. The folk music event includes 12 stages and a variety of genres including blues, roots, folk, dance and other world music as well as family acts and activities. Visitors stay for the whole weekend and are able to camp ins surrounding fields. Last year, the festival celebrated its 25th anniversary, extending the event to four days.

This year’s lineup looks incredible. Follow the below link to the see 2018 lineup. Don't forget to stop by on your way down for the weekend to pick up your grog.