The visitor centre in Bunbury used to be in the old railway station but this has now moved and information can be obtained from the
Bunbury Musem or the Dolphin Discovery Centre.
As with many places, Bunbury's heritage architecture is being spoiled by the development of modern buildings (monuments to official stupidity), but the Stirling Street Heritage
Precinct remains largely intact. Little has changed here since the early 1900s.
Leschenault Homestead is one of the oldest houses in Bunbury and was constructed over a period of years from 1844 to 1874. Early construction consisted of wattle, newspapers and
whitewash with pit sawn timber. Despite the importance of this structure it remains in private hands and is not open to the public.
There are many historically (if not architecturally) significant buildings in the area including King Cottage Museum and the rather striking lighthouse which guards the basalt
rocks near Rocky Point. The lighthouse dates from 1959 but a join about 10 meters up indicates where new construction work was done on 1971. The light sits 25 meters above the
ground and has a range of 27 kilometres. Other buildings of historic interest are: Former Boys School, Stephen and Arthur Sts. 1885. Residency, Stirling and Moore Sts. 1904. Rose
Hotel, Victoria and Wellington Sts. 1865. Old Police Station, Stephen and Wittenoom Sts. 1905.
One of the most unusual features of the state's entire south west are the mangroves which sit very close to the centre of Bunbury. The mangrove stand is quite large and is the
only one you will find south of Shark Bay many miles to the north.
Bunbury has some of what can only be described as, unfortunate architecture. It has not been a pretty place and the coast was dominated by commercial wharves and ugly buildings BUT
things have been changing in the last few years.
When we last visited we found some really inspiring changes had taken place with large sections of the northern section of coast having had major upgrades.
There are now many lovely places to enjoy, inspiring park lands like Big Swamp, redevelopments like the Koombana foreshore and interesting places to visit such as the
Bunbury Wildlife Park, Bunbury Geographe Motor Museum
and the Wood Gallery and Museum in Australind, are starting to make Bunbury a great
place to base yourself while you explore the surrounding area.
Shopping is good and places like the Farmer's Market are innovative and honestly better than similar shopping opportunities in Perth.
The area around Bunbury has a host of interesting destinations. The Ferguson Valley has a developing wine industry,
Gnomesville is a stunning tribute to what ordinary people can achieve and the Dardanup Heritage Park
is one of the most amazing places we have visited in W.A.
Add to this areas of natural beauty like Crooked Brook Forest and you have the recipe for an unforgettable holiday.
Self drive day tours from Bunbury
1. Bunbury - Australind
- Myalup Beach
- Binningup Beach - return to Bunbury.
2. Bunbury to the Ferguson Valley and return.
- Ferguson Valley
- King Jarrah Tree
- Wellington Forest and Dam
- Potter's Gorge
- Collie River Road
- Pile Road
- Henty Road
- Return to Bunbury.
3. Bunbury - Wellington Dam
- Harris Dam - return to Bunbury.
4. Bunbury - Boyanup
- return to Bunbury.
Walks in Greater Bunbury
Big Swamp Walk
Located off Prince Phillip Drv. Facilities include toilets and seats. Dogs allowed on a lead.
The walks leads you are the Big Swamp wetland not far south of the city centre.
It is a favourite place for bird watchers as there are over 60 species of bird found there. These include
the Australasian grebe, white-faced heron, dusky moorhen and purple swamphen.
There are a number of lookouts and a board walk section.
Located off Somerville Drv. Facilities include seats.
This park is noted for the diversity of flora and fauna including three species of black cockatoos.
During spring there are also many wildflowers to be found.
Located from the corner of Mosedale Ave. and Ocean Drv. south to Maidment Pde.
As the name suggests, this walk is through the Tuart forest. Facilities include Shelter and seats and the walk is
suitable for wheel chairs as the path surface is bitumised.
At the right time of year you will find orchids and different banksia in flower.
The Maidens Walk
Located off Ocean Drv. south of Hastie St. Facilities include Toilets, Benches and Barbecues. Dogs on leads allowed.
Limestone-based walk trails lead you through Maidens Reserve.
High sand dunes give an impressive view of the city from several lookouts.
The area contains many native orchids and is noted for the diverse range of species inhabiting it.
Mangrove Walk and Koombana Bay
Located off Koombana Drv. Facilities include Shelter, Seating, Toilets, Car Park, Picnic Area and Playground.
The walk incorporates Leschenalut Inlet in East Bunbury. This area contains white mangrove trees and is the southern most stand of
mangroves in the state. The next mangroves you will find are 800km north in the Shark Bay area.
Thw wetland is known for the number of waterbirds that can be found there.
Eaton Foreshore Walk
Located off Pratt Rd. Dogs allowed.
This walk follows the bank of the Collie River and there are dog exercise areas where dogs can be let off the lead.
You will find paperbarks, peppermint trees and sheoaks as well as bird such as pelicans, kingfishers and musk ducks.
If you are lucky you may even spot dolphins in the river.
The walk takes in Eaton Foreshore Park and the Watson Street Reserve. facilities include gazebo shelters, tables and toilets.
You will also find a number of lookouts along the walk.
John Boyle O'Reilly Wetland Trail
Located off Buffalo Rd.
Facilities include Information Shelter, Tables, Toilets and the walk is suitable for wheelchairs.
The information shelter includes details on the escape of Irish convict John Boyle O'Reilly
who hid on the peninsular before boarding the American ship Gazelle in 1869.
Belvidere Interpretive Walk
Distance: 1.5km loop
Located by the Belvidere campsite off Buffalo Rd.
Facilities include Information Shelter, Tables, Barbecues, Campground.
This is a great spot for a picnic by the shore of the Leschenault Estuary.
For those who have the time, there is a national Park campsite.
Distance: 9km one way
Located south of Belvidere campsite off Buffalo Rd.
Facilities include Tables and Toilets Available at The Cut.
A rather long walk offering great views over the Indian Ocean and the estuary.
Crooked Brook Forest
Located 25km east of Bunbury in the Ferguson Valley.
Off Crooked Brook and Forest roads.
There are 4 walk trails in the forest. Forest Path, 600m, Wildflower Walk 3km loop, Marri Walk, 10km circuit and Jarrah Walk 1.5km loop.
Facilities in the area include Disabled Toilets, Gas Barbecues, Tables and Information.
'Bunbury is, in many respects, one of the most favoured spots in Western Australia. A charming and easily reached health resort, not merely for the denizens of the
capital, but for the toilers on the goldfields, wearied of the dust and drought of the parched plains of the interior.'
Twentieth Century Impressions of W.A. 1901
Just 49 years earlier Rev. Wollaston had written very differently:
'The whole aspect of the place to me most melancholy. My former house neglected and rapidly falling into disrepair. Garden, flowers, all done away with - tenanted by
C. Ommaney alone - who keeps a daily school but in such a way that the government, I am sure, will not long continue to employ him, all things silent and neglected.'
The area was first sighted in 1803 by the French explorer
aboard the ship Casuarina. Freycinet named the area after Leschenault de la Tour, a botanist on the expedition.
A British party from the Swan River Colony (Perth), led by
Dr. Collie, explored the area in 1829.
In the following year John Roe
led a party of explorers 10 miles up the Collie River and then a further 50 miles south.
A military station was quickly established with the view to protecting new settlers who were expected to arrive in the area.
After 6 months of inactivity, the military station was abandoned.
Developmet was being hampered by huge land grants given to absentee landlords including James Stirling.
Wollaston wrote of James Stirling's
huge land grant in the area that stifled development:
'...and so the government in its wisdom allowed all the good land at the back to an insensible extent to be monopolized by a single grant. How can this town rise and be supported?'
In 1835 Lt. Henry William St Pierre Bunbury
pioneered a route from Pinjarra to Leschenault and on to Vasse.
Bunbury described the area in his journal as follows:
'...we soon got into a more open flat country lightly timbered with Tooats, with abundance of grass and not many bushes, and saw a thick Tea tree swamp about half a mile on our right
forming the head of the estuary, upon which we soon arrived ourselves by a well beaten path through a most rich and luxuriant crop of grass and sow-thistles'.
A town plan was drawn up in 1836 when Thomas Watson surveyed the area. The town was named after Lt. Bunbury. The Aboriginal name
for the area was Gomburrup.
In 1838 John Scott was engaged by James Stirling to establish and manage a farm on Stirling's grant just south of the town site. 3 years later there were at least 400 settlers
living in the district.
Following the Scott family were the Littles who were employed to work on C.R. Princep's estate.
One of the first industries in the area was whaling, as the migration path of large groups of whales ran right down the West Australian coast.
The Americans had a well established whaling fleet and often visited West Australian waters between December and March. Although they competed with the local whaling industry they were
mostly made welcome and are known to have traded quite extensively with the local population including some smuggling of alcohol to avoid local duties. The Americans are known to have
visited the coast between 1792 and the late 1870s when they slowly petered out.
Initial contact between the Europeans and Aborigines was fleeting but peaceful. As more land was taken up and settled and Aboriginal sacred sites were
disregarded and their water and food sources depeted, things started to become more and more tense. Even so the Bunbury area never experienced the
'bitterly violent' clashes that were occuring at Vasse.
Eventually there was a need to protect settlers from attacks by local Aborigines, but if the transmission of disease, that was unavoidable, is not included in Aboriginal deaths caused
by Europeans, then far more Aborigines died at the hands of other Aborigines than died at the hands of the new settlers.
In 1851 convict labourers arrived in the district and there was a corresponding rise in the crime rate, especially in regard to theft. Several convicts tried to escape but all were
re-captured and placed in irons. By 1854 almost 30% of the areas population were convicts. If ticket of leave men are included in these figures then the total would have been more than 40%.
Law and order became a real issue as even the T.O.L. men were prone to re-offend and some 50+ % of then did just that. In some years during the introduction of convict labour almost 90%
of the crime was related to the newcomers.
Despite the rise in crime, the area benefited from the increase in public works that accompanied the convicts arrival.
Early Bunbury has been described as 'a place of grog selling, tobacco dumps and watered down spirits. Fines for drunken behaviour, shooting unbranded cattle, death be misadventure,
a priest who performed marriages who had no license to do so, the odd murder and even one man who sold his wife to another for ten pounds.'
This was the strange environment that was to produce a young John Forrest.
Bunbury was dominated by a social elite in its early years and the anointed few attempted to run the small town like a private kingdom. Whenever there was some opposition to their 'rule'
it was easy to quash it as members of the family were magistrates who could make some very questionable rulings over various disputes. Eventually there was a full scale enquiry, but as
is usually the case, little was done besides a verbal rebuke.
Clifton, Eliot and Lovegrove continued to run the town with a very heavy handed approach making sure others obeyed the letter of the law while being very lax about their own less than
By the 1890s Bunbury was still very much a backwater. The old guard of the town had either died out or moved on to other places and changes in the political scene were soon to be followed
by a change in the whole nature of the town.
In 1842 St. Marks Church was constructed from timber salvaged from a wrecked American whaling ship (it remains as the oldest church in W.A.) and by 1893 there were already rail links to
Boyanup and Perth. The town grew steadily with assistance from gold miners who liked to come down and vacation on the coast. As a result
many hotels and guest houses were constructed.
With the opening of the railway in 1894, Bunbury would see a dramatic period of change and development and by the turn of the century the shire had a population of almost 3000.
On April 23rd 1903 the Norwegian ship Langard dropped anchor off Bunbury and it was discovered that she was carrying bubonic plague.
A quarantine station was eventually set up but reports indicate that several people died before the disease had run its course.
In the years before the Great War, Bunbury's progress was steady with a number of public projects being completed and the railway and port being upgraded.
WWI brought about an inevitable fall in population and a stagnation of development. The end of the war saw new optimism and a boom period with the export of timber, wool coal
and fresh produce bringing a level of prosperity to the town.
Then came the 1930s depression, WWII and another period of boom after the second war. Much of this was reflected in other areas through out the state.
Bunbury was once a major grain handling port but shipments these days are mostly alumina and woodchips.
Much of the town's success came from its location and port facilities. The port facilities continued to grow from the early construction of a breakwater in 1903.
Bunbury became a city in 1979.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
Terrorism comes to sleepy Bunbury
On July 19th 1976 two masked armed intruders crept in to the port area in the dark of night. They took the security guard captive and began planting explosives.
What had prompted this act? It turned out that these two rather disturbed individuals were protesting about wood chipping and the export of wood chips from the port.
Three separate charges were planted but thankfully only one went off. Even so it was enough to send debris hurtling through the air as much as 3 kilometres.
The two men were eventually tracked down and were sentenced to eight years in prison.
Fast first aid
In the early days at the port of Bunbury, the long jetty was busy and quite congested.
One major concern was quickly transporting injured workers through the congestion to the local hospital. It wasn't possible to drive an ambulance along the jetty so a
plan was worked out and all that was needed was the opportunity to test it.
Not long after the plan had been agreed, a Dutch ship with a Chinese crew called in to the port.
It turned out that one of the Chinese crew was ill and needed to be taken to the local hospital as quickly as possible.
The plan swung in to motion. A small steam locomotive with a specially designed flat floor for a stretcher was sent along the jetty to collect the sick crewman.
The emergency crew collected the Chinese seaman from the top of the gangway and took him to the railway station where he was loaded on to an ambulance and
rushed to the hospital where he was put in a bed to await the arrival of a doctor.
The whole operation had taken just 36 minutes and everyone involved was very pleased with the result.
As people were congratulating each other on the success of the new emergency plan, a phone call came through from the ship asking why nobody had arrived to
collect the sick seaman.
It turned out the the man collected had been on watch duty at the top of the gangplank and due to his lack of English language skills, he had been whisked away
to hospital instead of the sick man.
We can only wonder what the man thought about the whole situation.
From the book 'Full Steam Ahead' by John Willinge.
One day a group of waterside workers seemed unusually happy as they went about their work.
The ship's Chief Officer went to their supervisor and reported that the ship was carrying large casks of wine and he didn't know how, but he was sure the workers
were getting in to the casks and helping themselves.
The supervisor went down to where the casks were stored to find out what was going on and found that his men had bored small holes and inserted a tap so that
during smoko and lunch break they could add a little something to their break.
Needless to say they were read the 'riot act' and things went back to their usual routine.
From the book 'Full Steam Ahead' by John Willinge
Getting the Right Result
The first bulk loader installed at Bunbury wharf was a large and complex piece of machinery.
It was operated by just two men and there was a need to train others to ensure that the machine could always be in operation when needed.
A list of 12 of the most competent workers was drawn up by management and submitted to the WWF (Waterside Workers Federation) so that the men could be
trained to use the new equipment.
The union held a meeting but came back and said that just selecting men in this way went against union principles and any men who volunteered to be trained
should be considered.
So many men volunteered that the training places were expanded to 16 and the management selected 16 of the men they thought would be best for the job.
The union rep explained that this was not the way things were done and all the names of the volunteers had to be put in a hat and the men who would get the
training would be selected at random.
A meeting was held and the union rep came back to management with the list of men whose names had been drawn out.
Management commented that it was a miracle that the men selected randomly were exactly the same ones that were on the list they had been drawn up.
The union rep simply responded; 'Miracle my foot, I never put the other names in the hat!'.
From the book 'Full Steam Ahead' by John Willinge
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Mangroves, Dolphin Discovery Centre, Marlston Hill Lookout, Basaltic Rock, Big Swamp, King Cottage, Koombana Bay,
Bunbury Wildlife Park.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Old railway station 1904, Leschenault Homestead, King Cottage Museum 1867, Lighthouse, Former Boys School - Stephen and Arthur Sts. 1885. Residency - Stirling and Moore Sts. 1896, Rose Hotel - Victoria and Wellington Sts. 1865. Old Police Station - Stephen and Wittenoom Sts. 1905, Prince of Wales hotel 1882, Burlington hotel 1900, Convent of mercy 1897, Morgan's Inn 1852, St. Marks Anglican church 1842..
Tuart Walk, Maiden's Walk, Manea Park, Big Swamp Walk, Mangrove Walk, Eaton Foreshore, Leschenault Peninsula, Crooked Brook, Bibbulmun Track.
FAMOUS SONS AND DAUGHTERS
State : Bunbury / Collie-Preston / Murray-Wellington
Federal : Forrest
Postcode : 6084
Local Government : City of Bunbury
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