Western Australia’s Murchison is the shire without a town, but what it does have is a whole lot of outback for visitors to enjoy.

Story By John Dunn

Western Australia’s Murchison Shire is a place of extraordinary extremes – a vast 49,500-square-kilometre hunk of the outback 700 kilometres north of Perth and 300km east of Geraldton.
Its vast area makes it one of the biggest shires in Western Australia and it’s bisected by a lengthy 820km river of the same name, the second longest in the state after the 834km Gascoyne a little further north. The river has been known, in places, to be 24km wide and several metres deep. But that’s only when occasional summer cyclones dump torrential, flooding rain onto the southern slopes of the Robinson Ranges, where the river rises and runs south-west to the Indian Ocean.
Mostly, the Murchison River is the other extreme – it doesn’t flow and, apart from a sporadic string of sandy waterholes, it’s dry. However, while these statistics sit largely at the top end of the size scale, figures at the other end tell a different story. Murchison Shire is the only shire in Australia without a town. As well, it has the fewest people, a mere 114, and the most basic services – just roads and phone lines. The nearest town, tiny Mullewa, is 202km away; the nearest city, Geraldton, is 100km beyond that. Mail comes twice a week and supplies arrive weekly.
Despite this, Murchison Shire presents itself as a place that has a lot going for it, now and into the future. There might be no town but there is a ‘hub’ and it’s called The Settlement, a true oasis in the midst of the seemingly endless red soil and mulga scrub that rolls relentlessly away to the horizon.

This Story is from Issue #102

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2015