Lynton Convict Hiring Depot was first built as the Port Gregory Convict Depot in 1853, it is the most intact example of a regional convict depot in Western Australia. The supervisor, Captain H. A. Sanford, build a homestead near by during 1853, called Sanford Homestead, and named the depot as Lynton.
The Depot building, designed to accommodate up to 80 convicts, was not completed until 1855. Until then, resident convicts lived in canvas accommodation, more than half of the overall period of operation of the hiring depot. The number of convicts staying at the depot varied between five and forty with other convicts away, hired out for service.
The Convict Hiring Depot operated from 1853 to 1856 when it was ordered to be closed due to the high costs of its maintenance and the lack of fresh vegetables saw the convicts suffer from scurvy. The convicts where transferred to Champion Bay in 1857.
Lynton was established at the same time as the town Pakington, a site near Port Gregory and later named Gregory. Before being abandoned, Lynton grew to include an administration block, store, bakery, hospital, a separate lockup, and lime kiln.
The Hiring Depot was built to accommodate convicts but it was not a place of incarceration. The lockup was built for short-term imprisonment or those waiting for transport to Fremantle for more serious offences. The main photo is of the remains of the lockup, the narrow sections between walls at the back were the cells.
The Hiring Depot has been restored and is enclosed with a roof. Information boards inside provides information about the depot.
The other well-restored building is the Magistrate’s Quarters. When Sanford retired, Magistrate William Burges was relocated to Lynton from the Victoria District.
The hospital was completed in 1855 and was built to treat the sick and injured convicts, as well as mine workers, pensioner guards, their families, and settlers in the region. A main cause of illness was poor diet will little access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
The well was originally built to provide water for Lynton but the water from the 18 metre deep well was brackish. A separate well was created half a kilometre up the bank of the Hutt River.
To get there:
From Northampton, from the main road through town, turn into Port Gregory Rd towards Kalbarri. Follow Port Gregory Rd for 39.5km and Lynton Heritage Site is on the right.
From Kalbarri, head south from the township along George Grey Dr, passed the Kalbarri Coastal Cliffs. Follow George Grey Dr to the end, about 60km. Turn left onto Port Gregory Rd towards Northampton and continue for 2.7km and Lynton Heritage Site is on the left.