In 1850 convict transportation to Western Australia commenced. A Convict Hiring Depot was established at Toodyay 5 kilometres upstream from the original Toodyay town site on the opposite riverbank. A commissariat, depot, pensioners and sappers’ quarters were built as well as a number of other smaller structures.
In 1859 while surveyors were marking out new allotments at Toodyay, the town site once again flooded. Plans were then made to create a new town near the convict hiring depot. In 1860 the town of Newcastle was surveyed, at the site of the current town site of Toodyay. The original Toodyay town site was still occupied; although it eventually declined. During the late 1800s the towns of Toodyay and Newcastle lived side by side.
The Toodyay Convict Hiring Depot closed for the final time in 1872 and the buildings were handed over to the Colonial Government for civic use. The railway arrived in late 1887. That year gold was discovered in the colony and the following decade saw a dramatic increase in Western Australia’s population. Farmers in the Toodyay district benefited from the need to supply provisions to the Goldfields.
Read about some interesting convicts and ticket of leave characters in Toodyay:
Be sure to visit the Convict Hiring Depot exhibit at the Newcastle Goal Museum for even more delightful tales of mischief and mis-behaviour
Photo details: Newcastle Railway Station 1897