by Graeme Olsen.
Archimede Fontanini arrived in Australia in 1904
with 12/6d ($1.25) to his name. After he died in 1982
he left behind a famous local landmark of significant
|Archie was born in Italy in 1880 and after
working in France for a few years he enlisted
in the Italian army to do his mandatory three
year service and volunteered to serve in China
during the Boxer Rebellion. He was discharged
at the ripe old age of 24, and decided to see
more of the world, which led him to Fremantle.
After working at the Timber Corporation Sawmill
at Greenbushes for three years, Archie decided
he'd like to have a go at farming. At that
time the Government was encouraging people
to develop land in the south west, so Archie
went and had a look at some of the places
After checking out a few, Archie settled on a particular
area that had a stream flowing strongly through it,
even in summer. He was granted the land in 1907 and
he set about clearing and developing it, which was
no easy task. At that time Manjimup didn't exist,
so purchasing supplies meant a three day horse and
cart journey to Bridgetown. In winter the track to
Bridgetown was almost impassable.
Archie married his wife Lucy in 1909 and they had
5 children. After several years of developing the
land, Archie built a dam across the stream with a
log and earth, hoping that the silt in the stream
would settle and make the land more fertile when the
wall was later removed. He taught his children to
swim in the new dam, and they became very popular
at school because they had a swimming pool. It soon
became a regular event to have many children and even
adults visiting to have a swim.
When Archie decided it was time to drain the dam
and start growing vegetables again, he was surprised
to find resistance from many people in town. A committee
was actually formed to convince Archie to not only
keep the dam, but to charge an entry fee to maintain
it. Such was the demand for a public swimming pool
amongst the now expanding population of Manjimup.
Archie agreed to the proposal, cemented his dam and
developed the gardens. "Fonty's Pool" was
born, and officially opened in 1925. It soon became
one of the well known beauty spots of the south west.
Archie continued to maintain the pool and gardens
well into his old age. But at 93 years of age, when
it became too difficult, Fonty's Pool had to close.
In 1979, however, the pool was reopened with a "Back
To Fonty's Pool" weekend which combined with
the Australia Day Log Chops and Swimming Carnival,
and was attended by 12,000 people. Archie was there
to see his pool reopened. He died 3 years later.
Thank you to the Fonty's Pool Caravan Park for providing
information for this story.