The Town That Never Was
The area of Forest Grove can be found about 11kms south of Margaret River along the Bussell Highway.
Forest Grove was originally named Naralingup by the early settlers. The government had set aside Naralingup as a proposed town site but the proposal never eventuated.
Rumour has it that a surveyor was sent to the district to survey a site for the proposed Forest Grove Post Office but he miscalculated the Post Office’s location by 7km. The “new” townsite instead grew into Witchcliffe . Many locals will argue the story is a bit of a myth but it still makes for a good yarn.
Despite the fact that Forest Grove township never developed, it did have a railway station which serviced the busy timber-loggers’ line. The line was established before the town was gazetted and ran from the forest, along Boulter Rd and onwards to Hamelin Bay Jetty where awaiting ships took the Jarrah timber to England.
M.C. Davies (later to be Millars Timber) was the company which cut the timber and used the line. Mrs Strugnell senior, who used to live across the road from Birnamwood (an estate set in Forest Grove), ran a small business selling biscuits and tea from a market stall close to the railway line.
The railway station also had Elders’ and Broughton’s sale yards nearby, remnants of which are still visible today. The railway siding is also still evident on Railway Reserve to the east of Birnamwood and remnants of the railway line are visible under Terrill Bridge.
In 1971, John Tonkin, the former Principal of the local school near Naralingup, became Premier of Western Australia. It was during his time as leader that he changed the name of Naralingup to Forest Grove.