Doreen Whale, our first visitor centre manager

Throughout Walpole & Districts people are saddened by the recent [June 2015] passing in Denmark of Doreen Whale.

Many will remember her as the inaugural manager of the Walpole Tourist Bureau as it was known in the 1980s.

Prior to that time the committee of the Bureau had one aim and that was to build a headquarters.

Options were explored but funding was tight until the then Department of Conservation and Land Management offered to construct a building if the Bureau could provide materials.

The building would house the brochures of the Department and would remain open 24 hours a day.

The project eventually came to fruition in the shape of an early settler’s cottage—a design suggested by Peter Harbin who was president at the time.

When the building was completed in 1987/88 staffing the premises was somewhat sporadic with volunteers spending a couple of hours there whenever time permitted, to provide information to tourists.

However, it was recognised that something more concrete needed to be implemented, and the committee, with Di Drachenberg as president, decided to call tenders for a paid manager.

Doreen Whale successfully won this position with a tender that the committee could meet—at that time funding to the Bureau did not include a salary.

Doreen began the job of successfully moulding the infant Bureau into a successful business.

She ran a tight ship—the Bureau was never in the red—and she developed a loyal band of volunteers and rostered them accordingly.

Visitors were made very welcome and were counted in with a sheep counter!

Doreen held this position for several years before handing over a well-established Visitor Centre to Derrin Foster.

Doreen and her husband John purchased their Nornalup block in 1968, and settled there in 1986.

This land was previously owned by Captain Tom Price and his wife Lulu (nee Bellanger) and is now owned by Neville and Maxine Brass.

Doreen had many interests and an amazing talent for craft work.

She was a member of the BTH Ladies Club and had strong ties with the Denmark CWA.

She made the move to Denmark some time after the death of her husband, and lived first in a Lionsville unit and then in the Blue Wren.

Whilst at Lionsville, Doreen continued to travel to BTH Ladies meetings and the Walpole Craft Group.

She will be remembered and missed by many.

This post is based on a contribution by Molly Smith that appeared in the June 24, 2015 edition of the Walpole Weekly.

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