History

The history of the south west is full of great stories. Here's a sample!

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History Articles

1910: Ocean Liner Sinks Near Augusta

In 1910, the largest passenger liner to ever sink off the coast of Australia went down near Augusta. To this day, the S.S. Pericles remains the only shipwreck at Cape Leeuwin since the Lighthouse was built in 1896.

Who Found The Coal?

In the second half of the nineteenth Century, the industrial revolution was well underway, and while the colonies were not the massive centres of production that were to be found in Europe, and especially in Britain, there was a clear need for sources of energy to be found.

Ken Sketchley & The Korean War

In the early 1950s, Australia became involved in the Korean War. The history is there for those who want it, and the Australian War Memorial will show you a good overview of what happened. You'll note that 3 RAR covered themselves in glory. You'll note that 339 Australians lost their lives, and you'll note that it was neither the first nor the last time that such sacrifices were made.

A Better Class Of Bomber

For years we've been writing about why it's really special living in the South West. Research for this story started in a very different direction from where we've eventually been taken. Where we eventually wound up was looking at an incident that we'd assumed was one of the nastiest in our history.

Sisters Of Mercy, Bunbury

The Sisters of Mercy were established in Perth in the 19th century and a convent was established at Victoria Square. In 1883, three of the Sisters boarded the SS Otway in Fremantle and sailed for Bunbury, whereupon commenced a very great deal of endeavour.

Wonnerup House

George Layman arrived in Fremantle on board the Orelia in 1829 with just six pence in his pocket. But out of those humble circumstances came a new beginning and the establishment of a family and farm in the harsh environment of the south west.

Dardanup Heritage Walk Trail

At 2.5km, the Dardanup Heritage Walk Trail is a concise tour and summary of the historical buildings of Dardanup and their stories.

HMAS Sydney - A Surprise Visit To Bunbury

In October 1941, just two weeks before it went missing in action, the HMAS Sydney made a surprise visit to Bunbury. Not only did it give locals a rare treat, but it allowed a young crewmember from Bunbury to catch up with his family and friends.

Harvey Internment Camp

During World War II the Federal Government embarked upon a policy of limited Internment. One of the camps was in the south west.

Koombana Bay Shipwrecks

Koombana Bay, in Bunbury, has witnessed 29 shipwrecks throughout history. Here's a few details.

May Gibbs & Stirlings Cottage

May Gibbs, the author of "Snugglepot & Cuddlepie" and the "Gumnut Babies", who received an MBE for her contribution to children's literature, spent some of her childhood in a beautiful part of Harvey in the south west.

The Donnybrook Goldrush

Thars gold in them thar hills... Really, there is! Donnybrook had it's own gold rush at the turn of the 19th/20th century. The honour of first finding gold in the region goes to Richard Hunter, who discovered some in 1897 by panning the upper reaches of the Nonneycup Creek, which is a tributary of the Preston River.

St Marks Church: A Mission That Started Over 150 Years Ago

St Marks Church, or "the Old Picton Church", is the second oldest church in Western Australia. The story starts in July 1840 when an American Whaling ship called the Samuel Wright was wrecked in Koombana Bay, Bunbury.

Jewel Cave: A Great Discovery

This is the story of a group of "ordinary" south west people, who went on an adventure and discovered one of the south west's popular tourist attractions.

John Forrest: Background Of A Statesman

John Forrest was born on August the 22nd at the mouth of the Preston River on Leschenault Estuary, near Bunbury. In 1842 his father and mother, William and Margaret, had come from Scotland to Australind in Western Australia, to work for Dr John Ferguson on his farm.

John Boyle O'Reilly

John Boyle O'Reilley is an interesting choice as one of WA's famous sons. In fact he was here for a few short months, and the most famous thing he did while he was here was.... leave.

Bubonic Plague In Bunbury

Did you know that there were cases of the dreaded Bubonic Plague in the south west? The plague stuck around one hundred years ago in Bunbury. According to the old newspaper "The Southern Times", the cases of plague were noticed on 23 April 1903 when the Norwegian bargue named Lingard arrived from South Africa into the port of Bunbury.

The Resident Magistrate In Augusta

Upon arriving in the Colony which was to become Western Australia, the English fairly quickly turned their attention to occupying as much country as they could. This was a strategic move, and the discussion about who they were keen to displace, be it Dutch, French, Aboriginal or even Americans is something that has never really been recorded, and we can but speculate

Thursday Shopping At Cowaramup

It seems that Thursday was the day for shopping even back in the 1930's in Cowaramup. The train only came twice a week from Perth to Cowaramup. On Mondays and Thursdays. Because the Monday train left Perth near midnight on Sunday, it often didn't carry a lot of goods. The Thursday train, however, always had a big load of mail, food, newspapers, and other supplies.

Enrolled Pensioner Guards

As the English domination of the continent took hold, it was apparent to the powers guiding the new colony that loyal white people were important to the development of the empire. This is a problem when you settle a continent peopled by natives and begin to send convicts who by the nature of their arrival are less likely to be loyal to the crown.

Augusta's Water Wheel

If you head towards the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse down Leeuwin Road from the town of Augusta WA you will come across a sign to the Leeuwin Water Wheel. It's to the right before you reach the lighthouse. There you will see a large water-wheel surrounded by fantastic views of the ocean, rocks and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

King Cottage Museum

King Cottage is situated in the busy street of Forrest Avenue, in the town of Bunbury, Western Australia. Zooming past homes and commercial properties you can be forgiven for not realising that there is a small world of history living amongst this full-on environment.

Drowned Or Deserted?

Thomas Timothee Vasse (commonly known as Timothee Vasse) was an assistant helmsman aboard the Naturaliste who disappeared one stormy night. Or did he?

Grace Bussell

The Western Australian coast is littered with wrecks. The West Australian Maritime Museum lists 78 known wrecks along the South West coast alone. Few of them are remembered for anything other than loss and tragedy. One stands out.

Redgate Beach

I stumbled upon Redgate Beach during a three-day hike on the Cape to Cape Walk with a class of high school students. Coming out of the bush and onto this beach, it took my breath away. The bay looked beautiful, with flat sand framed by red coloured rocks.  I had never seen Redgate before and was surprised that no one had ever made me go.

The Wrecks Of Hamelin Bay

Hamelin Bay was once a popular timber port. One stormy night proved disasterous for three ships moored there.

Farming At Margaret River

Brothers Lance and Chris Andrews, and Evelyn Wilton, were born in England and came out to Western Australia in the early years of the last century. Lance was the first to arrive and in 1909 took up a Homestead Farm of 160 acres at Margaret River; two years later his brother Chris joined him. By 1913 they had a total of 925 acres, which included two Homestead farms, and they also had an 800-acre grazing lease a few miles away on the coast.

The Keepers Of Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

When you see a lighthouse, you know it's because there's dangerous waters around - which all makes for interesting history. Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is no different, with it's fair share of shipwrecks, ghost stories, even an explosion.

Trooper Allan Cummings, Hero from Balingup

Allan was no one in particular, the way that most of the people who shed blood all over the landscape at places like Courtney's Post, Bloody Angle, and the Nek were no one in particular.

Fonty's Pool

Archimede Fontanini arrived in Australia in 1904 with 12/6d ($1.25) to his name. After he died in 1982 he left behind a famous local landmark of significant historical value.