Group Settlement Scheme WA – How did it work.

The Group Settlement Scheme was an assisted migration scheme which operated in Western Australia from the early 1920s. It was engineered by Premier James Mitchell and followed on from the Soldier Settlement Scheme immediately after World War I.
In the early 1920s and after WW1 many English born 2/4th Machine Gunners migrated to WA with their families as assisted migrants, taking up land with the Government Group Settlement Scheme in areas such as Denmark, Manjimup, Busselton, Northcliffe, etc.  This was an attempt by our Government to further develop land and increase food production.
As with any scheme, there were successful stories and many were not.  Much depended on the land and  location, services or facilities (mostly there were not and remoteness was a huge problem for families), sometimes luck, and most importantly weather and general economy.
Life was very much a challenge for many pioneer farmers who had to endure the Depression and Rabbits, particularly inland farming in WA.  Many farmers who were not with Group Settlements simply walked off their land.  There is a substantial number of 2/4th Machine Gunners who left their farms.
The scheme was to provide 40-to-65-hectare (99-to-161-acre) land holdings which had to be cleared and intensively cultivated.  Initially the scheme was  supervised by experienced farmers to develop a self-sustaining dairy industry.   The whole scheme was the idea of Premier Mitchell, who earned the nickname ‘Moo-Cow’ – he appeared to be obsessed with the dairy industry. The Nationalist and Country Parties  considered ‘unlimited land resources for closer settlement’  the key to the state’s economic progress.
Over 6,000 people emigrated to Western Australia under the Group Settlement Scheme which was funded jointly by the StateFederal and UK Governments.
Please read the story of Tommy Lewis and his family
Also read information from Denmark Historical Society
The Northcliffe Pioneer Museum
Other 2/4th families include:
Tom Fotheringham’s family took up the offer of Group Settlement No. 52 Lennox, Loc. 2395 near Busselton in 26 May 1924.

Bill and Ada Reeves – Group 13 Cowaramup.

The family of Norman Patrick HAYES  were at Peel Settlement 54

Below:  succesful dairy farms


It was a challenging life for families – for migrants who were far from home and families.  The isolation and remoteness from hospitals and essential services was confronting.
We acknowledge these early pioneers.  It took courage, tenacity and resourcefulness to achieve what you did.
In particular, there were negative reports from the Northcliffe Group Settlement (as you can read below) where it seems land was unsuitable for such a scheme and settlers were reduced to living in poverty.
Families lived in tented homes for up to several years.


This however, was not uncommon throughout rural Australia where virgin properties were taken up by early pioneers.









Above:  Group Settlement School 50, 54.










Charles Henry Ironmonger 1982




Charles Henry Ironmonger is featured in the report below.  He arrived in WA with his wife a few years earlier.