The first Tinglewood

One fateful day in October 1978, the community of Walpole & Districts woke to the news that Tinglewood Homestead, the renowned guest house, had been destroyed by fire.

Feelings of shock and disbelief spread throughout the region at this news. The beautiful, historic property on the Deep River was an icon of Walpole; destined, it seemed to everyone at the time, to be there forever.

Tinglewood Homestead with guests. Frank Skinner Thompson 4th from left, Frank Thompson 5th from left (c1930)

Tinglewood Homestead with guests. Frank Skinner Thompson 4th from left, Frank Thompson 5th from left (c1930)

There was anger too at the cause of the fire. A special dinner was underway at the Homestead when unexpected travellers arrived looking for accommodation. They were invited to take part in the dinner but declined. However, later in their room they set up a portable stove on the bed …

Messages of sympathy from far and wide flowed in to the Harbin family. The family had purchased the Homestead in 1956 from Frank Thompson, a pioneer of the region.

Frank Thompson with a guest at Peppermints c. 1940s (WNDHS)

Frank Thompson with a guest at Peppermints c. 1940s (WNDHS)

Frank had constructed Tinglewood from 1923 to 1926. He was handy with the axe, and his hand-hewn timbers were a feature of the building.

Tinglewood Homestead became renowned as a guest house.

Another Tinglewood rose from the ashes. New building was under way by early 1979.

Peter Harbin and his father decided not to replicate the former building because they felt the old world atmosphere that was so much a part of the original structure could never be replaced.

In 1994 the Harbin family sold Tinglewood Homestead and, after more than 80 years catering for tourists, the property became a private residence.

This post has been adapted from an article that first appeared in the May 7, 2014 edition of the Walpole Weekly. Molly Smith is a regular contributor to the Weekly with her “Looking Back with Molly” column. Pictures sourced from the Walpole, Nornalup & Districts Historical Society.

Tinglewood Homestead on fire in 1978. (WNDHS)

Tinglewood Homestead on fire in 1978. (WNDHS)


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  1. My mother worked as a cook/kitchen hand at around 1957 – I was eight years old and walked to the bus stop. – about 3kms – it was actually a truck from an adjoining property. I would accompany Mr Thompson as he conducted fishing trips for the guests – I remember Skippy Rock, a place to catch Skipjack – occasionally A storm would blow up in the bay – it was terrifying. It all came to an end when Mrs Thompson wanted to adopt me – I believe the Thompsons were unable to have children – my mother (Gertrude Rogotzki a German immigrant) took flight and hitched a ride to Albany with a guest. Am heading west next year and would love to visit the property. Some of the most exciting times off my life.

  2. I have a photo of Frank Thompson on a dinghy with two women sitting on a dinghy

  3. I worked for frank for 2 years until he sold to the harbin family but i could not get on with peter.frank was a true gentleman.iwas 15 at the time he taught me one hellava lot he lived in a cottage on the river nearby for a few years them moved to perth. Clem jessup

  4. My grandfather thought Frank Thompson was a hero all his life. Frank kept my grandfathers head above water after Franks launch overturned in an accident crossing the bar . (Details on trove). I think two people drowned. Frank Thompson was thought of every Christmas Dinner. Although I never met him I felt as though I knew him.

  5. We stayed there and they made the best mulberry pies. What happened to the tree.

  6. Diane Bax-Blechynden

    My mother worked as a cook and maid way back in the 1930’s when Thompson,s Guest House was first opened up for visitors. I always remember her telling me that one time when things were tough that the Thompson’s decided they would catch a swan. Well they caught a swan to cook up for the guests… and it was not a successful meal, as it was as tough as old boots and tasted terrible! My mother was Ethel M. Blechynden, daughter of Benjamin & Bertha (nee Giblett) Blechynden of “Glentuchoch” Farm in Bridgetown. Benjamin was the eldest child of Walter Edward & Jane (nee Needs) Blechynden of “Glenpenant” Farm in Manjimup. My mum was employed there up till she married in December 1936.

  7. Did anyone work for the Thompsons around 1944/6

  8. Megan McCarroll

    I worked at Tinglewood guest house in 1980/81 as a waitress when we would have buses come through have a meal.

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