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Gnowangerup, named as the place of the mallee fowl in the Aboriginal Noongar language, is a town located 61 kilometres (38 mi) south-east of Katanning in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. The townsite was first gazetted in 1908 under the spelling of Ngowangerupp. Local dissatisfaction with this spelling led to it being altered to Gnowangerup in 1913.
The traditional owners of the area are the Goreng Noongar peoples who lived on the plains in the area for thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers.Gnowangerup State School was opened in November 1908 on a site on the northern edge of town. It is now known as Gnowangerup District High School and caters for students from Year 7 to 10.The local Agricultural Hall was opened on 20 July 1910 by Arnold Piesse, MLA for the Katanning electorate.A branch railway from Tambellup was open for service to Gnowangerup on 1 July 1912. It was extended to Ongerup on 6 January 1913. Train services east of Gnowangerup ceased on 13 October 1957.The area was being used for cereal cropping and grazing livestock, particularly sheep. The areas around the town were running a flock of around 204,296 sheep in 1917.The Memorial Hall was opened in 1923, the same year that electric light was being installed. The population of the town in the same year was 1,350 people.A United Aborigines Mission, Gnowangerup Mission, was established on Muir Hill in 1935 on a 61 hectares (151 acres) site to replace the mission run on the Government reserve that ran from 1926 until 1935. The mission ceased operations in 1954 and then reopened as the Agricultural High School for Indigenous Australian boys.Following a severe drought the town was flooded in 1940 after a torrential downpour.