The town was
named after Margaret Wicher - also spelled Wycher in some sources - (a
friend of the Bussells). The Aboriginal name for the area Wainielyinup. Not
only it this difficult to pronounce, it is said to mean ‘the dying place’;
little wonder it doesn’t show up in any tourist information. The town was
surveyed in 1910 and gazetted in February 1913 but the name was first
entered on maps of the region from 1839 and referred to the River.
The name was
changed to just Margaret in 1918 but went back to being Margaret River in
1927. (We have received information that the town name did not actually
change and will attempt to find out what happened.)
The first settlers were Alfred and Ellen Bussell who travelled from
Broadwater and built their first house in the area at Ellenbrook in 1854.
Later they built Walcliffe house where they lived from 1865.
The area was opened up in the 1920s by English and Australian workers who
were attracted to the area via the ‘Group Settlement Scheme.’
A large number
of spectacular limestone caves dot the area, some of the better known ones
include Bride's, Mammoth, Lake, Jewel, Giant, Moondyne and Dingo’s.
‘The Margaret River caves are rightly included among the beauty spots and
show places of the State… and are said by those who have visited both to be
the equal to the famous Jenolan Caves of New South Wales.’
Twentieth Century Impressions of W.A. 1901
The rail line from Perth was opened on May 25th, 1925 by the Minister of
Works Mr. Munsie MLA. The line was eventually closed in 1957.
supply first became available in the town in 1937 but not on a 24 hour
War 2 a War Service Settlement Scheme (Soldier Settlement Scheme) was established encouraging returned
service men to settle on the land and develop farms. This proved to be more
successful than the earlier Group Settlement Scheme. Some of the land taken
up was originally part of the Group Settlement Scheme.
In 1950 the
road from Busselton to Margaret River was finally sealed.
It is a pretty
little town almost half way between Busselton and
Augusta. The town has been over commercialised in
the past few years and is a haven for yuppie types who have been mainly
responsible for the huge increase in prices in the vineyards nearby.
Commercial wine making came to the area in 1967 with the establishment
of Vasse Felix, but it wasn't until the 1980s when wine
became more acceptable in Australia, that the industry really saw a massive
Surfing is popular along the coast and regular international tournaments are
held here. The first Pro-Am competition was held in 1978 with a full
professional competition arriving in 1985.
The area is highly recommended, but you really would be better off purchasing your
bottles of wine at the far more reasonable Swan Valley vineyards before
The town is constantly growing and is becoming an important shopping
facility for the area. Sadly with development comes over-crowding and it
won’t be too long before the town and it’s beach side appendages resemble
just another suburban jungle. Thankfully the area around the town and the
coast to the north and south is still in wonderful condition.
On the coast
not far west of Margaret River is Prevelly Park. Originally this was
developed as a caravan park by Geoff Edwards in the 1950s. At the time the
only people who even knew about the place were a few local die-hard
fishermen who used to travel along a rough old track to get to the coast.
Geoff's book 'The Road to Prevelly' details how he first started to develop
the park and then had to place hand made signs all over the state to let
people know it was there. It took quite a long time (and a lot of signs) but
finally all the work paid off and Prevelly Park became the holiday spot of
choice for many 'Perthites' on their summer holiday. The name Prevelly
originates from the Preveli monastery on the Greek island of Crete where
Geoff and other allied soldiers were hidden from the Nazis during the German
invasion in World War Two.
built the chapel of St John the Theologian on Walcliffe Road. When he
sub-divided part of the land he owned in the 1960s, Geoff named some of the
streets after the Greek families who helped him during the war.
Prevelly was gazetted as a townsite in its own right.
homestead was built by Alfred Bussel and was named after his wife. The
family settled at the site in 1857 but in 1865 moved to a new location (Wallcliffe
House) near the mouth of the Margaret River. Ellensbrook was taken over by
Alfred's sisters (Edith and Fanny) and an Aboriginal mission was established
there from 1899 to 1917. The National Trust took over the buildings in 1979.
Tall tales and true: Sand dune swallows cart
The Boranup sand dune is an unusual shifting dune that moves around two feet
every year. It gradually covers tall trees that can be seen protruding from
the top of the dune looking like small bushes.
A story is told of a man travelling past the dune on a horse and cart when a
wheel broke. He un-hitched the horse and made his way to Augusta for
assistance. When he returned the cart was gone and he assumed it had been
Some 70 years later the cart emerged from the other side of the dune (as the
dune moved away) still in good condition.