Rifle range names suburb
Target rifle shooting has been a popular sport in Geraldton for at least 140 years, probably even well before a rifle range was constructed at the southern end of Fitzgerald Street in 1876 for the Geraldton Volunteer Rifles to use their black-powder muzzle-loading muskets.
At that time the small town was slowly expanding and housing began to encroach on this range, which had its 500 yard firing mound very close to Augustus Street and the Geraldton Primary School.
In 1887 a new range was surveyed and built on crown land to the west of Crowther Street, again allowing a maximum shoot over 500 yards.
With more modern rifles coming into use there was a need for a much longer range which eventuated in 1914, using the Separation Point hill as the target area and shooting mounds at 200, 300, 500, 600 and 1000 yard distances — the latter alongside the Shell Oil depot off Cream Street.
This range was regularly used until once again local housing development at Beachlands caused safety concerns and Geraldton’s fourth range was constructed in what is now the suburb of Rangeway.
This range operated from the late-1940s to August 18, 1974, concluding with a trophy shoot which attracted 88 competitors from around the State.
Now little remains of that range except the suburb’s name and rifle club shoots are conducted at the Greenough range. Over many years several top marksmen honed their skills with the Geraldton Rifle Club, some going on to represent Australia in competitions at the legendary Bisley rifle range in the UK.
One of those was Bill Mellows, pictured standing on the left with trophy winners at a Separation Point shoot in the early 1930s.
Trophy winners at a Separation Point shoot in the early 1930s. Back: Bill Mellows, Oscar Nelson, and an unidentified man. Front: Tom Stokes, Leo Vecchia and another man who is unknown.