Stirling Cottage, just north of Harvey
Harvey was developed as a private town in the 1890s by a group of investors following the opening of a railway station there in 1893. However, Cookernup, little more than a railway stop today, had a greater population, and had a telegraph office and school years before Harvey.
The population of the town was 93 (66 males and 27 females) in 1898.
In 1926 the Harvey Road Board sought the declaration of a townsite, but this did not occur until 1938.
In February 2006, EG Green & Sons, the owner of the Harvey Beef brand since 1919 and responsible for about 90% of Western Australia's beef exports, went into administration. In April, however, the brand was rescued by a new consortium who acquired EG Green & Sons and recreated it as Harvey Industries.
The town is the seat of the Shire of Harvey and is the centre of the Western Australian dairy industry. It contains an agricultural college and the headquarters of both the Harvey Fresh (1986) and Harvey Beef (1919) brand names, and each year in April (previously October) hosts an agricultural show. In addition, a high school, a primary school, dining and shopping facilities, accommodation (hotel, motel, caravan park, farm stay), council offices and the Forest Products Commission's Timber Technology Centre are located within the town.
The railway station contains a museum which documents early life in the town, and the Stirling Cottage (actually a replica of it built 500 m downstream from the original in 1994 after the original cottage succumbed to the elements in the 1960s) has been converted into a tourist information centre and tearooms. An unusual feature is the Italian Internment Shrine, built by Italian internees of Harvey No. 11 Camp during World War II and believed to be one of the only monuments of its kind in existence.