Margaret River 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 increase.
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 its 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.
Geoff also 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.
In 1978 Prevelly was gazetted as a townsite in its own right.
Ellensbrook 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.
The Old Settlement includes examples of buildings used during the Group settlement scheme.
The village contains examples of a group house, school and farm outbuildings. The house dates from 1923 and the school from 1925
The buildings are open on weekends from 10am to 3pm. It is best to use the Rotary Park carpark and then wall across the pedestrian bridge
to the settlement.
The town is said to be named after the river that in turn was named after Margaret Whicher. There is some doubt about this and the surname is variously spelled,
Wicher, Wycher, Whicher and Wyche. She is said to have been either a cousin or friend of the Bussel family.
The local historical society states; "The river, and the Whicher Range from which it rises, was named after Margaret Whicher, a step-second-cousin of John Bussell."
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.
An electricity supply first became available in the town in 1937 but not on a 24 hour basis.
After World 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
In 1950 the road from Busselton to Margaret River was finally sealed.
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 stolen.
Some 70 years later the cart emerged from the other side of the dune (as the dune moved away) still in good condition.
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Vineyards, Caves, Surfing Beaches, Boranup Drive Lookout, Old Settlement Museum, Berry Farm, Cheese Factory, Chocolate Factory, Lavender Farm, Brewery,
Conto Campsite, Sues Bridge Campsite.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : Vasse
Federal : Forrest
Postcode : 6285
Local Government : Shire of Augusta / Margaret River
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