Denmark WA Holiday Information & Accommodation Guide
History of Denmark WA

Denmark's history and pioneering past

The first people to arrive in the Denmark area were Aborigines, thought to be about 40,000 years ago.

Archaeological evidence has been found, such as fish traps in Wilson Inlet and carbon from Aboriginal cooking fires identified in the sand from a cave near Ocean Beach.

The Waiting House, Denmark WA - imageThomas Braidwood Wilson, a Scottish navy surgeon, discovered this area in 1829 when conducting an expedition from Frederickstown - later to become Albany. He came across the river here and named it the Denmark River, after Dr Alexander Denmark RN, his friend and former tutor at Naval Medical College in England.

The town grew around the banks of the river and was initially known as Denmark River, but the word ‘river’ was later dropped. The town’s name, you see, has nothing to do with the country of the same name. 

The first European land use was by graziers and, in 1893, the Millar brothers set up a sawmilling operation on the Denmark River to meet the needs of the Goldfields which used huge amounts of timber … and here the story of the town of Denmark began.

The timber industry lasted a mere decade, leaving in its wake only a few hardy settlers. Following World War II, improvements in agriculture and a revival in timber cutting rejuvenated the district, and the population has grown at an average 4% per year since the mid-1980s, supporting new settlers and innovative industries.

Pictured above right is The Waiting House - read more about its background on our Historic Walk page.

Denmark Historical Museum
9848 1781. Mitchell Street, Denmark. Town Centre Map
Treat yourself to a slice of Denmark's history! This wonderful little museum is located close to the centre of town.
Open Tuesdays 2pm - 4pm. Thursdays 10am - 12pm and 2pm - 4pm. Sundays 2pm - 4pm.

Historic walk around Denmark WA imageEnjoy a walk around Denmark, taking in some historic sites

Here, for your enjoyment, is a short, self-guided walk historic walk which takes in some of Denmark's historic landmarks.

To accompany you on your walking tour, Denmark Tourist Bureau staff and volunteers have compiled some brief notes on your route and what you will see along the way.

Please feel free to download this information.

... and the Denmark-Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail

Learn more about Denmark's history - and the railway line which served the area - whilst enjoying some pleasant exercise and wonderful scenery.

Ideal for mountain bikes, horses and walkers, this section of former railway reserve features renovated bridges, steep embankments and cuttings, and constantly changing views.

Shown left (courtesy Denmark Historical Society) is a train crossing the old rail bridge near the Denmark River mouth.

Read more about the Denmark-Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail.

More living history in nearby Albany

Take a day trip to nearby Albany, Western Australia's earliest settlement, for more living history, including Albany Convict Gaol and the Brig Amity - see our Albany information page.

See more images of Denmark

Quick Links

Spend an afternoon exploring Denmark's history on our
Historic Walk
and read more about the Denmark-Nornalup Heritage Rail Trail