Dongara is a coastal town located 351 kms north of Perth via the beautiful Indian Ocean drive. The twin towns of Dongara and Port Denison are set on the banks of the Irwin river which divides the two towns in the Shire of Irwin. The shire has a population of around 3,500 people. The area offers a relaxed lifestyle with beautiful beaches, historical sites and a healthy fishing and farming industry. The main street, Moreton Terrace, is lined with Moreton Bay Fig trees which were planted in 1906 and are now a focal point of the town. The shire is a blend of coastal and rural landscapes, the old and new, and a blend of lifestyles which make this an enviable place to live, work and play.
The aboriginal people, the Wattandee tribe, called the area ‘Thungarra’ meaning ‘a place of seals’. Dongara was the english version of this name. European settlement around the estuary began in 1853 when a harbourmaster, Edward Downes, was stationed there to look out for passing ships. He was employed by the Cattle Company which was establishing large pastoral stations about 15 kilometres inland. By the 1860s, ex-convict small farmers were occupying the local river flats, and a flour mill was operating. A townsite was surveyed, and in 1871 it became the seat of a local council established that year (now the Irwin Shire Council), and site of a police station and public school. The Anglican Church of St John the Baptist and a Methodist Church were built in the 1880s.
In the 1890s, the larger Royal Steam Roller Flour Mill was built on the flats next to the new railway that connected the district to Perth, and the town was slowly developing, and although it was still a comparatively small village by the time of Federation in 1901, it had several churches, municipal offices and hall, a variety of shops, two hotels, a public school and a railway station. The nearby localities were populated by small wheat and sheep farmers. There was also a small population of fishermen, including several Chinese men, at Port Denison. Dongara is also the center for the oil and gas industry which began with the discovery of the Dongara Gas Field in 1966.