Pinjarra is a town in the Peel region of Western Australia along the South Western Highway, 86 kilometres (53 mi) from the state capital, Perth and 21 kilometres (13 mi) south-east of the coastal city of Mandurah. Its local government area is the Shire of Murray. At the 2011 census, Pinjarra had a population of 4,255. Pinjarra is an area rich in history and is the hometown of a former State Premier – Sir Ross McLarty. It is near the site of the infamous Massacre of Pinjarra, where between 14 and 40 Aboriginal Noongars were killed by British colonists in 1834. The name was often shown spelt “Pinjarrup” on early maps, while the accepted spelling for many years was “Pinjarrah”. There are conflicting theories regarding the meaning of the name, and it is usually said to mean “place of a swamp”, as a corruption of the Aboriginal word “beenjarrup”. However, Pinjarra is more likely to have been named after the Pindjaruppeople who frequented the area. One of the first settlers in the area was Thomas Peel, who established a settlement at the mouth of the Murray River in 1830. By early 1898 the population of the town was 400, 300 males and 100 females. A British child migration scheme run by Kingsley Fairbridge established a farm school in the area in the early 1900s. Hundreds of orphaned children were educated at Fairbridge Farm between 1913 and 1981. Fairbridge Chapel was built at Pinjarra, in 1924 to Herbert Baker’s design. The author Kenneth (Seaforth) McKenzie grew up in Pinjarra, and parts of his experiences as a child living near the Murray River are found in his first novel The Young Desire It. In 1974, an alumina refinery was established by Alcoa Australia Ltd, causing a boost in the population of Pinjarra and nearby Mandurah. Pinjarra is also the site of the world’s largest bauxite mine. Pinjarra contains one shopping centre, Pinjarra Junction that opened in 2008. It contains a Target, Coles Supermarket, Best & Less, Subway and The Reject Shop and more. Because of its close proximity to Mandurah and recent infrastructure and amenities investments, Pinjarra’s population is likely to increase significantly through new subdivisions surrounding the original town-site.
Pinjarra station is located on the South Western Railway and served by Transwa’s twice-daily Australind service from Perth to Bunbury. In September 2012 a Transperth bus service was inaugurated between Murray Hospital in southern Pinjarra and Mandurah railway station, via Mandurah Forum on Pinjarra Road, and Pinjarra town centre. Pinjarra is also on the South Western Highway between Armadale and Bunbury, something which has both helped and hindered the town. Traffic through the town during holiday seasons has been known to stretch for kilometres north or south. As a result, there have been calls for the construction of a road bypass of the town. Pinjarra is the operating base for the Hotham Valley Tourist Railway. Peel Zoo, known for its bird wildlife, is situated near Pinjarra.