Where is Popanyinning?

A farm in the wheat growing district of Popanyinning WA was home to Enrico Riga for two years from March 1944 to March 1946.

Enrico Riga working on a farm in WA (photo courtesy of Maria Riga)

From Lamon Belluno, Enrico was captured on 5th April 1941 in Addis Abeda, Abyssinia before being sent to prisoner of war camps in India.

Enrico arrived in Fremantle Western Australia on the Ruys.  This was the only ship to disembark Italian prisoners of war on the west coast of Australia. The ship boarded 2028 Italian prisoners of war in Bombay destined for Fremantle and Melbourne. 

The town of Popanyinning was originally given the name: “Popaning”; the local Aboriginal Noongar word for waterhole.  It was built alongside the Great Southern Railway line, servicing the wheat and sheep farmers in the district.

The photo of Enrico captures the landscape, the vegetation of this part of Australia as well as the work he did while living with a farming family.

Enrico was repatriated on the Chitral on 30th September 1946.

1946 ‘2500 ITALIAN P.O.W. LEAVE ON MONDAY ‘, The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), 27 September, p. 10. (HOME EDITION), viewed 13 Aug 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78267376

Popanyinning is referred to as “Hard to Say, Nice to Stay”. 

I hope that this is how Enrico might have remembered his time in the district: it was a funny word to pronounce but it was a good place to live and work.

Welcome Sign for Popanyinning

(photo courtesy of Gordon Stewart)

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