Pierre Bellanger and Family
First published in Walpole Weekly 12 December 2018
Looking Back With Molly
by Life Member Molly Smith
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To complete the trilogy [Ed: Bellanger, Thompson and Swarbrick] of families who influenced the early growth of Walpole, it is time to look back on the Bellanger family who were actually the first of the three to settle in the then-remote area.
In late January 1908, Pierre and Winifrede Bellanger and their family, together with Pierre’s brother Andre were enjoying their annual holiday in Albany, from their home in Toodyay. The group visited Denmark and from there Pierre, Andre, a surveyor and another guide went on past Kent River and Bow River to explore the land around the Frankland River. They were greatly impressed and in 1909 Madame Bellanger was taken to inspect the area. She approved their choice and plans were made to apply for 4,000 acres of land on the Frankland River.
Finally in 1910, Pierre, Winifrede, children George, Lulu, Muriel and Maud and their governess Miss Dorothy Rees sailed from Albany on the Grace Darling to Nornalup Inlet a distance of 75 miles. All their possessions were landed at the Depot and makeshift conditions for the night were organised. Andre made the trip overland to bring horses and a milking cow as Maud was still a small baby.
Next morning the family, with their possessions, crossed the inlet to their land. They managed with two huts and two tents until their homestead was completed in 1914. The strong character of Madame Bellanger and her home-making ability inspired her family. During this time, it was not unusual for her to be cooking outside. Until the property had road access all provisions were brought by sea and left at the Depot where a small shed was erected as shelter.
In fact, for many years, apart from the this sea trip, communication with the outside world consisted of a fifty-six mile trek on horseback along a coast track to Denmark which was only usable in the summer months.
In 1911, Ted Bellanger was the first white child to be born in the area. Two more children were born into the family, Marie and Bernard.
A well stocked vegetable garden and an orchard yielding all types of fruit were soon established and wild game was available for meat. Finally in 1920 the family decided to turn their home into a guest house and this move was most successful. They became widely known for their hospitality and excellent cuisine together with Madame Bellanger’s impeccable presentation.
When the railway line was completed and the first train from Denmark arrived at its Nornalup destination in 1929 Madame Bellanger was responsible for the catering at the opening ceremony and Madame and Mrs Frank Thompson (snr) held a ribbon for the train to break through.
Article from my own notes and photograph courtesy of Walpole Nornalup and Districts Historic Society. – Molly Smith