History

Narembeen must be the only town in Australia to come into existence solely so a pub could be built. If the good citizens of Emu Hill (a siding 5 km south of Narembeen) had been happy to have a hotel, there would have been no need for Narembeen.

The first European explorer into the Narembeen area was Surveyor General J. S. Roe who, on 11 October 1836, camped near a rocky outcrop which, because he had seen emus the day before, he named Emu Hill.

In the 1850s a small number of European settlers moved into the area. When the explorer Henry Maxwell Lefroy travelled through the area in 1863 he visited Charles Smith who had settled near Emu Hill, naming his 60,000 acre (about 24, 300 ha) property Narimbeen.

The only other Europeans in the area at this time were the tenacious sandalwood cutters who passed through looking for the precious wood.

The whole area was sparsely populated until the beginning of the twentieth century when land was opened up and farmers moved in to graze sheep and grow wheat on their small 1000 acre (about 405 ha) holdings. The area around Emu Hill and Narembeen was surveyed in 1910.

As late as 1917 the township of Narembeen did not exist and even in 1920, after the arrival of the railway line, it was nothing more than a siding for Emu Hill.

Between 1920 and 1922 the importance of the two sidings reversed. In 1920 Emu Hill was the largest centre but the local community, when confronted with the possibility of building a hotel, opposed the plan and suggested a coffee palace or temperance hotel.

The idea of creating a town at the Narembeen siding was the brainchild of a prominent Perth lawyer, Henry Hale, and a Perth publican, Paddy Connolly. When the men realised the problems that were being created by the teetotal community at Emu Hill they purchased 30 acres (about 12 ha) of land at Narembeen, used their influence with the local politicians, got permission to build a pub and then sold off the rest of the land to prospective residents of their ‘private town’. Although local government was established and administered by a Road Board in Narembeen in 1924, the private town status was not rescinded until 1968.

The pub, which still stands today, was all that was needed to overwhelm the struggling nearby settlements and become the centre for the whole area. By 1925 Narembeen had a population of 2100.

In 2010, Narembeen celebrated 100 years of agricultural settlement.