Archaeological remains of a former convict depot, buried beneath and around the Shire of Toodyay’s offices, have been State heritage listed.
Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said the archaeological remains were extensive, providing a valuable link to Western Australia’s convict past.
“It is very rare to find such a large and intact archaeological site of a former convict depot in WA. The two-hectare site has the potential to reveal significant information about the convict era,” Mr Jacob said.
Thousands of convicts, their overseers and families arrived in the Swan River Colony from 1850 to 1868, substantially boosting the population, providing labour for essential works and bringing British government funding that enabled the struggling colony to survive.
Convict depots were administrative centres for hiring ticket-of-leave men to local landowners and providing accommodation when the men were between jobs or working on public infrastructure. The depots typically catered for 60 to 120 men.
Hundreds of ticket-of-leave men, and later probationary convicts, passed through the Toodyay Convict Depot, which operated from 1852 to 1856 and 1862 to 1872.
“University of Western Australia students excavated six trenches in 2010, revealing intact foundations of the barracks, hospital, kitchen, warders’ quarters, commissariat store and privy as well as objects used by the convicts and guards. Future excavations may reveal more information about how the convicts lived and were treated, as well as the lives of their overseers,” the Minister said.
The former Toodyay Court House, designed by renowned architect George Temple Poole and used as the shire’s offices, was built in 1897 over the ruins and is also included in the listing.
Minister’s office - 6552 5800
students excavating the remains of the former Convict Depot site
the former Toodyay Court House