James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
Click on left picture for enlargement

Group 114

Kent Dale 1924 William does not appear on the inventory of settlers of 30 June 1929 but by the late 1930s the Owens had been farming 'holding 1495' in ‘Group 114’ for several years. Group 114 was one of the most southerly settlements (scroll down this map to see its location). It had been established in 1924. south of the highly productive wheatbelt area, on the Styx River (appropriately named after the river in Greek mythology which was the boundary between Earth and the Underworld) and near the south coast. When creating a new group settlement, the settlers lived in temporary camps, often in houses made of corrugated sheets (Right: one such camp at nearby Kent Dale in 1924); that of group 114 was beside the Styx River. The men cleared 5 acres on each block (i.e. on what would be a single holding) on which they built a house and then each block was allocated by ballot.

114 picnic In the Western Australia Museum is an account by a man who came out to Group 114 from England as a boy with his family: "The huge trees were to be felled to make way for farming. It was very hard work & most of the group 114 gave up & came into Albany to find work." The settlers' land was densely forested by huge jarrah and karri trees. For centuries only Aboriginal tribes had occupied these forests and the infrastructure for early white settlers was extremely poor with many roads impassable in winter months. The Owen's property was almost 25 miles from the nearest town, Denmark, which is roughly midway between Nornalup in the west and the port city of Albany in the east (see modern map). Since 1908 there had been a railway line from Denmark to Albany. Further line extensions helped the burgeoning local dairy, agriculture, timber and fishing industries. The fact that it took almost three years to extend the line the 34-mile from Denmark to Nornalup testifies to the difficulty of the terrain in that area; when it opened in 1929 its twice-weekly service transformed the lives of the approximately 900 people in 15 group settlements along its route but it ran several miles south of the Owen's plot.