“We’re in it for socks and jocks now” – Mundijong set to...

“We’re in it for socks and jocks now” – Mundijong set to power up

Director Infrastructure Services Reza Najafzadeh, Deputy President Tricia Duggin, Acting Director Development Services Deon van der Linde, Cr Shaye Mack, Acting CEO Frazer Sullivan, Marilyn and Bob Fowler, Henry Dykstra, President Rob Coales, Manager Economic Development Marcel Bridge and Director Community Engagement Brian Oliver.

The West Mundijong Industrial Area has been a dream 16 years in the making.

But this year that dream finally becomes reality for the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale.

Site works have begun, and large lot titles for a newly subdivided 25-hectare stretch of land off Kargotich Rd will be ready for sale by mid-Spring, with first expressions of interest already being sought.

The project has been christened ‘Mundijong Junction Industrial Estate’, paying tribute to the town’s historic role as a railway siding, linking industry with the hills.

The Fowler Group has taken on the pioneer mantle of reconnecting Mundijong with its industrial past as the first investor into the industrial estate.

The Perth-based group has a varied portfolio of business interests, primarily in the motor vehicle distribution industry, but also owns holiday parks, a winery and a brewery.

Managing Director and devout harness racing fan Bob Fowler and his wife, Marilyn, have also owned a stud farm in Serpentine since the 70s.

When Mr Fowler visited the Kargotich Rd property at the invite of the SJ Shire in early 2022 he knew instantly he wanted in.

“I just liked it. It had the right feel about it. I work a lot with my gut feelings,” he said.

“And I think the timing is right. There’s a lot of people who need bulk space, and this is the corridor they need to be in.”

With the Tonkin Highway Extension edging closer to breaking ground, and well-founded hopes the state government will choose West Mundijong as the site of Westport’s landside logistics hub, Mr Fowler’s gut could be spot on.

Mundijong is also being touted for a population explosion in the near future.

New housing estates are planned for the area between the proposed Tonkin Highway Extension and the South Western Highway. Works are likely to begin in the next year or two.

The market will determine how quickly the rest of Mundijong fills out, but the shire has confirmed the area has a capacity for between 40,000 and 45,000 new residents.

But with an influx of people comes the urgent need for jobs.

Currently around 70 per cent of people leave the area to go to work.

That’s where the West Mundijong Industrial Estate comes into play as a ‘Strategic Employment Creation Area’, with the SJ Shire hoping this ambitious project will elevate the region’s economic prosperity.

There are more than 400 hectares of available space in the rezoned West Mundijong Industrial Area.

“The shire has been very proactive in bringing investors to Mundijong. By year-end, eight large dry industry lots will be available for purchase, representing a significant stride towards injecting much-needed industry into the heart of SJ,” shire president Rob Coales said.

“This also has the add-on benefit of providing more local employment opportunities for our residents.”

But pioneering the first lots for development has not been the cakewalk Mr Fowler anticipated when he bought into the idea.

There is no access to mains water, or sewerage for waste water.

The water management plan was a major hurdle for planning and survey firm Harley Dykstra which has come on board with the Fowler Group on the Mundijong Junction project.

“There was a lot of remodelling involved,” Henry Dykstra said.

“On a project like this the hard work is in the paperwork. As a pioneer you end up copping it because you’ve got to make sure it works.”

Mr Fowler has said there will be a bore placed on each of the eight lots.

But lots in Phase 1 of the estate are essentially being marketed as ‘dry lot subdivisions’, making them suitable for industries which are self-sufficient, like transport, storage and warehousing, and logistics businesses.

Perhaps the biggest pain in the proverbial for Mr Fowler has been trying to secure power.

“I made the rookie error of seeing the overhead power cables all around and assuming there was plenty of power to service our needs,” he said.

They are currently waiting for a final report from Western Power to run a 10km extension from Medina. Mr Fowler is preparing himself for a multi-million-dollar estimate.

“We’re in it for socks and jocks now,” he said.

“I’m strongly of the opinion that if you do something, you do it right. I’m not interested in waiting a decade or so for power to come to the area. So, I’m going to do it myself.

“It’s exciting to be a pioneer and be the first to develop this precinct.”

The final hurdle was ensuring the surrounding roads were improved to allow for the passage of pocket road-trains (measuring up to 27 metres). Kargotich has been reclassified as a Restricted Access Vehicle (RAV) 4 road, with upgrades in the works for the other connecting roads, and the Tonkin Highway Extension pending.

Phase 1 works – which include the construction of new roads, drains, footpaths, and underground power – are expected to conclude around July.

Once increased demand and services become available, the area will evolve into a more intensive industrial area, in terms of lot size and built form.