Valley of the Chapman River and Towns in Chapman Valley


by Barbara Sheilds

Yes, its the Valley of the Chapman River.

This area was originally called Upper Chapman, as it is the upper part of the Chapman River.

This river arises on the Victoria Plain near Yuna and flows into the Indian Ocean in Champion Bay, Bluff Point just north of the city of Geraldton. Its length is 105 kilometres and there is a small branch of 28km called Chapman River East, joining the main river near Narra Tarra Bridge.

The River was name on 7th April 1839 by the Explorer, George Grey while on his second disastrous expedition along the Western Australian coast and was probably named after John Chapman, the deputy chairman of the Western Australian Company and a business partner of Grey’s friend Sir William Hutt, the Chairman of the Western Australian Company, after whom Grey had named the nearby Hutt River, two days previously.

Narra Tarra was the first school built in 1880, but soon each community with 15 to 20 children had built a school.

Ruins of these weatherboard and iron structures were seen until a few years ago at Yetna, Durawah, Mt Erin, Nabawa, Naraling, Rockwell, Nolba, East Chapman, Howatharra and Bringo.

These days a high school bus transports children into Geraldton for secondary education.




Nanson was part of Mt Erin Estate and bears the name of JL Nanson who was  a journalist, owning the Morning Herald which later became The West Australian. He was an instigator in having the four large Estates bought by the Government and thrown open for selection. The township was originally called Mt Erin but was renamed Nanson in recognition of his services whilst he was the local member of Parliament for the Greenough District.

1910 – A Post Office was built

1913 – The Road Board office was built

1924 – The Nanson Memorial Hall was built

During its time there was a butchery, bakery and general store. Tennis courts, cricket ground, golf, race course, football and hockey fields were also at this town. Also there was a State School and a Catholic Convent. Only the Anglican and Catholic Churches have stood the test of time.

Nanson is 26 kilometres along the Chapman Valley Road and is also home to the Chapman Valley Museum.



Nabawah was once called Paradise Valley being set near Paradise Gully which was probably name because of the beautiful views of the hills around this area. Present day name is Nabawa but was originally Nabawah, after a pool in the Chapman River, recorded by a surveyor in 1857. Its derived from an aboriginal word meaning “camp far away”.

The first hotel or wayside inn was built about 1889 and was called the Mining Arms.

1896/7 – An Agricultural Hall was built and used as a hall and school

1912/13 – A State School was built

1927 – Nabawa Hall was built as Memorial Halls to those that had fallen in World War 1.

There were Catholic and Anglican Churches, a General Store, a Post Office, a CWA Hall, a Railway siding and grain storage bins.

Today the Shire of Chapman Valley has their offices and workshop there.

Chapman Valley Primary School is also in the town of Nabawa.

This town is 32.70 kilometres north east of Geraldton and these days has a tavern, a comprehensive community sportsground, Nabawa stadium and Nabawa Community Hall and tennis courts.



There have been various spellings of this town, with the name derived from the Aboriginal Name of a nearby spring.

Naraling Church Hall was opened in 1926 and for many years was the hub of the community with afternoon teas, dances, concerts and sporting events and of course divine worship.

Tennis courts, football and cricket fields were part of the township and a wayside inn (Plow & Harrow) was situated at nearby Rockwell.

These days all that remains is the Church Hall and a plaque displaying a map of the original town site.



The name Yuna was a native word meaning “Stinking Water” which was derived from the only permanent water available at a soak which snakes, lizards and kangaroos competed with humans for this supply.

Early settlers had to cut their own tracks to their blocks; surveyed roads did not eventuate until around 1910. In April 1910, a Government road cutting team came here to cut the roads in Yuna, hence by Ted Lauder.

Another great day was to meet Mr J Mitchell, later Sir James, and Mr Nanson. Mr Mitchell was a Minister for Lands and Mr Nanson was Minister for Railways. The railway line was started in 1911, and our second harvest was sent away on the new Geraldton to Yuna line, 1911/12.

In August 1910 was the highest ever months rain recorded – 784 points.

First mail to Yuna was on the 5th November 1910.

Opening of the Yuna Memorial Hall 

At the Central Hall committee meeting held on the 4th April 1961 states that one tender has been received for the building of the new Yuna Memorial Hall, being from W. Marcolina, with a price of 11,750 pounds. The price of the new Memorial Hall was at a cost of 280 pounds per square. The hall fund stood at 7,500 pounds after the payment of 2/- bushel in April on No. 24 pool wheat. The committee decided to collect the promised money for debentures. This was discussed at length and it was decided to see if the committee were able to raise this amount of money and bring the result to be put to the Annual Hall meeting.

At the ordinary meeting held before the Annual Meeting held on the 12th April 1961. Those present were Messrs. R.S. Flavel (Chairman), Arthur Brooks (Secretary), John Batten (WJ) (Treasurer), K.J. Farrell, L.W. Forrester, John H. Kerr, R. Gould, C. Brooks, K. Smith, Ivan Vlahov, Ken Jupp, Tom Vlahov, Vic Vlahov, Ron Simpson, Ken Cant, Brian Wilton, W. Wheeldon, Barry Wilton, R. Smith, Frank Warr, K. Cannon, L. Drewell, J.H. Farrell, O.J. Williamson, N. Turner and Paul St John. Mesdames: WFR Exten, K. Farrell, Lewis Forrester, W.J. Batten, John H. Kerr, R. Gould, C. Brooks, Ken Smith, Ivan Vlahov, Ken Jupp, J.H. Farrell and O.J. Williamson.

The outcome from the above meeting was decided by all mentioned above “to proceed with the building of the Yuna Memorial Hall on the plans submitted”.

Crops were grown to fundraise for the building of the new Yuna Memorial Hall. The hall cost 14,000 pounds to build. This money was raised in two years.

A report on what crop was arranged for this year as follows – Dartmoor (60 acres), Ken Cant (25 acres), R. Gould (25 acres), Frank Warr (20 acres) along with other primary producers and the public of Yuna contributed grain and donations towards the building of the new Yuna Memorial Hall.

The amount of money on hand and the money collected by the sale of debentures plus the estimated amount that would be received from wheat crops of 1961, future wheat payments stated in the minutes that we would have in hand approximately 11,000 pounds by December 1961.

Only by the efforts of Mr Lewis Forrester had the 1000 pound loan been made available to the public of Yuna in helping to pay for the Yuna Memorial Hall. Mr Forrester responded and said that he hoped that anything the board had done would not retract any praise from the wonderful effort put into the hall by the public of Yuna.

“The Yuna Memorial Hall officially opened by the Premier The Hon David Brand, MLA on 21st October 1961. And Named in Honour of the Early Pioneers of the District”.

Yuna General Store (1926-27), Yuna CWA (1932), Yuna Golf Club (1935), Yuna Hotel (1940), Yuna Farmers Co-op agents for Westralian Farmers Co-op Ltd (1950), various sporting facilities and a school (CWA rooms) were developed in the early years.

Today there is the Yuna Memorial Hall (1961), Yuna Primary School (1962), Our Lady Queen of Peace Church (1967), CBH grain storage facilities, CWA, golf and tennis clubs.