Pinjarra is a town in the Peel region of Western Australia along the South Western Highway, from the state capital, Perth and 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 home town of a former State Premier - Sir Ross McLarty. It is near the site of the infamous Battle 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 Pindjarup people 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. In 1831, land was reserved for a townsite near a ford over the river. By 1834, word had spread about the rich loamy soils and pastures, bringing more Europeans to the area. Surveys were carried out in 1836 and land allocated to settlers in 1837.
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.
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.