The area was first explored by Surveyor General John Septimus Roe who passed through in 1848. In the 1870s the Moir family moved to the area and began grazing sheep along the Warperup Creek. In 1910 the land was surveyed into 1,000 acre blocks priced at 10 shillings (one dollar in today's currency) per acre before the townsite was gazetted in 1912.
During the Great Depression of the early 1930s kangaroo hunters and mallee bark strippers came to the area; the bark was sent to Germany for use in tanning..
In 1983 the Ongerup Shears event was held for the first time. This was a shearing competition that was held on the Queens' Birthday long weekend with international and national shearers competing in the run up to the Perth Royal Show. The event was discontinued in the 1990s.
Eldridge Street, Ongerup:
In 2009 a 13-part documentary, entitled "The Life of the Town", was made by Ronin Films that looked at the life of the town and focussed on the Australian Rules football team which was under threat. In 2012 the town celebrated its official centenary with a programme of various events.
The 2006 census shows a population of 119 people living in Ongerup. The town is home to a pub, general store, tyre service, primary school, kindergarten, telecentre, caravan park, ambulance service, 18-hole golf course, sports oval and pavillion, and roadhouse. The Ongerup and Needilup District Museum was opened in 1978 and is housed in the old railway barracks (constructed in 1918 for engine drivers and railway workers stationed in Ongerup, the building became obsolete when the railway service from Gnowangerup to Ongerup was suspended in 1957.) Local Noongar artefacts, foods and medicinal plants, natural history items, old machinery and household goods from pioneer days are on display.
A war memorial commemorates the 63 Ongerup lives lost in World War 1, World War 2, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
At the sports oval Australian Rules football, hockey and netball are played in winter and cricket, tennis and basketball in summer. Well known AFL footballer Mark Williams that played with Victorian team Hawthorn played in Ongerup as a junior player.
The town exists to service the local agricultural community. Surrounding farms mainly produce wheat, barley, canola and wool, while lesser quantities of lupins, oats, alfalfa and other crops are also grown. Beef cattle, fat lambs, and pigs are sideline industries. Grain silos belonging to Co-operation Bulk Handing are located at Ongerup and during harvest time these silos store grain from surrounding farms before it is transported to Albany by road for export.
The town is home to the Malleefowl Preservation Group and in 2007 Yongergnow Australian Malleefowl Centre was opened. Created to support and contribute to the conservation and research of the endangered malleefowl and its habitat, the Centre provides visitors with a rare opportunity to view the malleefowl in its natural environment, while appreciating the sometimes unforgiving and yet always spectacular surrounding mallee bush.
The Ongerup Wildflower Show is held in September and October each year. The Ongerup district is known to be home to over 1,300 species of wildflowers, which range in size from majestic salmon gums (ecualypts) 30 metres high to small annuals only 5mm high. (One year we had been holidaying in Albany and drove home through the Stirling Ranges and called into Ongerup when we saw the notice about the wildflower show. We were amazed at the huge variety of wildflowers on show; they were simply dazzling and we were glad we had taken the detour of a few miles to see the beautiful display). This is the road through the Stirling Ranges showing the beautiful Bluff Knoll:
My thanks to Wikipedia, Hidden Treasures and other sources for the information and photographs shown above.