The first recorded sightings of Western Australia's south west coast were by the Dutch ship Leeuwin (which means lioness), captained by Englishman Brooke in 1622. Cape Leeuwin was named after this expedition. Later sightings were made by Peter Nuyts from the Golden Zeepaardt in 1627. An expedition by Captain St Alouarn on his ship Le Gros Venture saw the naming of the the St Alouarn Island group off Cape Leeuwin in 1772. The first scientific expeditions to the region were made by the French Admiral D'Entrecasteaux in 1791 after which Point D'Entrecasteaux is named.
Hamelin Bay (near Augusta), Cape Naturaliste (near Dunsborough) and Geographe Bay are named after Captain Hamelin and his ships Naturaliste and Geographe which carried Nicholas Baudin on a scientific expedition in 1801. Leschenault Inlet, where Bunbury stands today, was named after Baudin's naturalist Jean-Claude Leschenault de la Tour.
The Baudin expedition was followed in the same year by Lieutenant Lewis de Freycinet and his vessels the Casuarina and Uranie. The Lieutenant gave his name to Cape Freycinet which is just to the north of Hamelin Bay.
Only the English Captain George Vancouver, who commanded the ships Discovery and Chatham, was sufficiently impressed by the landscape to take possession of it in the name of his king. He landed at and named King George III Sound (Albany) in 1791.