2017 LEGENDAIRY CAPITAL OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
With a name like Cowaramup, it’s hard to ignore the town’s dairy credentials.
Named as the 2017 LEGENDAIRY Capital of Western Australia, the town’s name comes from the nearby Cowaramup Siding.
Locally nick-named ‘cow town’ to reflect the region’s strong history of dairy farming and its continued connection to the industry, it is believed the name Cowaramup was derived from the Aboriginal word Cowara, meaning purple-crowned lorikeet.
Cowaramup is the gateway to the Margaret River wine region but its dairy industry has also played a significant role over the decades.
The town was established during the Group Settlement era of the 1920s and was gazetted in 1925, originally to support the timber and dairy industries. It continued to develop primarily as a service centre for the emerging dairy industry.
It was one of about 30 Group Settlements established during the 1920s and by 1926 it was described as being a thriving little village with a post office, several shops and a Farrier.
Grapes have been grown in the region since its early days, and the first commercial vineyard was established in 1967.
A railway freight and passenger service started in 1924 and provided lifeblood for the area’s economy until its closure in 1957, while the nearby Cowaramup Bay provided a swimming, surfing and tourist attraction.
Community spirit shines through in Cowaramup, from events to developing local facilities such as Pioneer Park.
The Margaret River Wine Festival is held annually in the town, but Cowaramup also pays tribute to its dairy farming roots with a major event each July when the town celebrates with the huge Cow Town Birthday Party called Deja Moo – a Legendairy Country Fair. The country fair is now the centrepiece for tourism in the town.
In 2012, 42 life-size fibreglass cow and calf sculptures were installed around the town as a tourist attraction and to recognise the importance of the dairy industry.
The cows were purchased and painted by Lions Club members and dairy farming volunteers, led by a local artist.
In July 2014, the town set a Guinness World Record for the most people – 1,352 – dressed in cow onesies.
The dairy industry continues to contribute to the local economy with several outlets adding value to local milk products by making ice-cream and cheese.
Cowaramup continues to be an important hub for its surrounding rural district.
With its LEGENDAIRY Capital grant, Cowaramup Retailers Association will establish a history/heritage trail about the dairy industry and dairy businesses at significant sites around the town. Signage will lead along the heritage trail towards a planned adventure playground being proposed by the Cowaramup Lions Club.
The heritage trail will encourage visitors to stop longer in the town and provide an avenue for educating people about the Cowaramup cows, dairying, and the area’s rich dairying history.