Pioneer History

The Pioneer’s Past

A history of the pioneering settlers also spans the region which, today, is rich in cultural treasures and memorabilia of a vibrant, multi-layered past. Each town in Australia’s south west has a unique story to tell and many have local museums, parks and monuments which are a wonderful source of information. We recommend the following historic sites.

Wonnerup House

On the edge of the Vasse Estuary Wetlands, 22 kilometres east of Busselton is Wonnerup House. Built by the Layman Family, it is an important surviving example of early farm pioneering in Western Australia. There is a stately homestead (build 1859) and earlier house (1837) which was later converted into a dairy, plus a kitchen, stables, and blacksmiths workshop, teacher’s quarters and school for visitors to wander through. These National Trust buildings have all been carefully restored, many with original items and furniture still on display. 

The Old Courthouse, Busselton

The heritage listed Old Courthouse Arts Complex was built in 1854 and is the oldest building in Busselton. Comprising a courtroom, jail cells, stable, post office and bond store, it offers a compelling insight into life nearly two centuries ago. For those interested in history, ask at the visitor centre for information about the Heritage Park and Trail.

Leeuwin Lighthouse

Located on the tip of Cape Leeuwin, where the Southern and Indian Ocean’s meet, stands mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse, which is still in operation today. It was built in 1896 to provide a safer passage for ships carrying timber from the nearby then-bustling port of Hamelin Bay to England. The brilliant white lighthouse allows visitors the rare opportunity to take a tour of a working lighthouse that guards one of the world’s most dangerous shipping lanes. Close by, the old Water Wheel was constructed in 1895 during the building of the lighthouse when a spring was tapped to provide fresh water for the workers. Having turned to stone over the years, it is now one of Augusta’s favourite attractions.

Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park

This Park provides an insight into the logging heritage of Manjimup and surrounds. The Park contains a café, museum, historical hamlet, vintage machinery and a blacksmith’s forge. A testament to the timber heritage of the town is the One Tree Bridge, which as its name suggests is a bridge made from a single karri tree and has survived since the early pioneering days.

Brig Amity Replica, Albany

The impressive ship on the Albany foreshore is a full-scale replica of the Brig Amity, which brought the first settlers and convicts to Albany in 1826. Climb aboard and go below the decks to follow the story of the Amity’s journey from Sydney to King George Sound. Albany’s Convict Gaol, built by convicts in 1832 as their own prison, is today an interesting museum.

Hidden Treasures of the Great Southern

The hinterland region of the Great Southern is an often overlooked area of Western Australia, however visitors to some of the smaller communities will discover grand old homesteads, community halls and hotels from an era when the country relied purely on farming, to huge grain operations that showcase modern agriculture. All this is mixed in with award winning wineries, local produce, great scenery and that warm sense of country charm. Follow one of the Hidden Treasures drive trails to explore - www.hiddentreasures.com.au.

Buildings and Sites of Significance

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