Bremer Bay is a coastal hamlet at the far reaches of the Great Southern Region, surrounded by stunning beaches and some of the most ecologically significant flora in the world.
Offshore, the calm waters of Point Anne provide a resting spot for calving southern right whales, while further offshore the recent discovery of killer whales in the Bremer Canyon has created a buzz around town.
The Bremer Canyon is an amazing deep-water ecosystem that has proven to be one of the few locations on our planet where offshore killer whales can be reliably encountered throughout the Australian summer months.
Between 2005 and 2013, Dave Riggs and his team participated in a number of oceanic surveys looking at a variety of species including the abundance of Bluefin tuna off the coast of southern West Australia.
In a small geographical location some 50km from shore and several nautical miles over the edge of the continental shelf adjacent to Bremer Bay, they consistently observed large aggregations of the oceans most revered apex predators. These include killer whales, sperm whales, giant squid, numerous species of shark and perhaps most significantly, beaked whales.
A wide range of oceanic bird species are also prevalent at the Canyon, adding to the diversity of this marine hotspot.
The first dedicated expedition to work out what was happening out there took place in February 2013, when the production of a documentary for ABC TV entitled "The Search for the Oceans Super Predator" was filmed.
A subsequent film was produced in 2015 for Discovery Channel. Since 2014, charters have been running to take expeditioners to see the location for themselves. Each and every time they venture out something new is learnt which could not be done without the support of the general public.
By going on an expedition you are allowing scientists to continue documenting and researching this amazing ecosystem.
Around 50 kilometres off the coast of Bremer Bay is a deep canyon, less than half a square kilometre in size and quite recently discovered. It's home to the largest pod of Killer Whales in the southern hemisphere with up to 100 killer whales spotted in the area. You can witness this unique phenomenon by joining a daily research expedition that departs from Bremer Bay daily from late January to April each year.
Image credits to Keith Lightbody aboard Naturaliste Charters.
From July to November each year Southern Right whales can be seen calving in the calm waters of the many sheltered bays around the area. At times the whales are as close as only six meters from the shore. Whales can be sighted from most of the coastline but especially from Bremer Bay Beach, Point Ann and Doubtful Islands. Point Ann provides a whale watching platform and views of Mount Maxwell and West Mount Barren.
There are currently two whale watching tour operators offering tours out of Bremer Bay from January to April.
Bremer Bay has a unique underwater environment. Our water temperature only varies from 17 to 21 degrees all year round. Flora and fauna can live and thrive in our pristine waters that cannot survive in waters nearby.
There is a huge diversity of species due to the nutrient rich, cooler temperate waters.
We have many vibrant nudi brauchs (a small sea slug) which add a flash of colour to our already vivid marine environment.
Bremer’s dive and snorkel sites have an abundance of sponge life of many different colours, formations and sizes. Bright orange Gorgonian fans and the delicate appearance of the numerous hydriods add contrast and texture to the seascape. Tube worms, basket stars and soft corals also add colour to this amazing underwater wonderland.
The plentiful fish life regularly seen include Redlip Morwong, Western Fox Fish, Blue Devils, Old Wives, Scaly Fin and Zebra Fish just to name a few creating a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns.
The amazing Weedy and Leafy Seadragon, unique to the southern temperate waters, are often seen here as the adjoining sea grass beds are major breeding areas.
Many visitors from around the world travel to Bremer just to catch a glimpse and/or photograph these unique sea creatures.
Fitzgerald River National Park
Bremer Bay is the gateway to the South West area of the Fitzgerald River National Park, and a visit to Point Ann is often part of a holiday at Bremer Bay. Whales are the main attraction between July and October, there are wildflowers and spectacular views year round.
Displays of the endemic Royal Hakea, (Hakea Victoria), Quaalup Bells and Pimelea physodes can be seen at the edge of the road. The Hakea is prominent all year, but Quaalup Bells flower as early as June, and may be hard to find after October.
Within the park, the gravel roads are well maintained, but tend to develop corrugations due to summer traffic. Careful driving is advisable, especially for people unfamiliar with gravel roads. Mobile reception is intermittent!
Point Ann facilities have been upgraded recently and it is now the starting point to the Mamang walking track.
Fitzgerald River National Park brochures are available at the Bremer Bay Community Resource Centre or at the gates of the National Park.
Park passes are also available for purchase at the Resource Centre or online via the DPAW website.
Bush walks and beach walks offer scenic vistas of the natural beauty of the park. Please use the boot scrubbers provided at the trailhead boot-cleaning stations and stay on the designated walk trails and footpaths.
Make sure you carry ample drinking water. Be prepared for unexpected changes in the weather.
Bush walking is not recommended in hot or other extreme weather conditions.
There are a number of bushwalks within the national park.
West Mount Barren - allow 1-2 hrs
Point Ann Heritage Trail - allow 1 hr
Mamang Walk Trail - 31km return
Walk, Drive & Dive Trails
Point Henry Drive Trail - The drive trail takes in two of the scenic lookouts in Bremer Bay then heads out Point Henry Peninsula via Wellstead Road.
The Native Snail Trail – The Native Snail Trail cuts through a variety of landforms, vegetation types and habitats. It is named after the Native Snail that is found in the bushland that it winds through.
Wellstead Estuary Walk Trail - This 2.07km long walk trail (4.01km return).
The majority of the route follows the southern shoreline of the Estuary and provides fabulous views across the water. It is a great walk for spotting wading birds and, in season, a variety of orchids.
Bremer Dive Trail – The ocean trail is located at little Boat Harbour on the Point Henry Peninsula.
It includes nine concrete blocks with information about the species in the area. Depth 3 – 10 metres.
On and off shore species ranges from Herring, Skippy and Salmon, to deeper water varieties such as Nannygai, Snapper, Groper plus a host of others.
The Wellstead Estuary
As you look across this expanse of water, there are some important facts about its global significance to our birdlife.
The Wellstead Estuary is home to over 100 species of birds. This aquatic habitat is a major feeding and recuperating ground for migrating birds that travel on the East Asian Australasian flyway.
Over 55 species of birds (approximately 5 million birds), migrate on the flyway passing through 22 countries.
These birds are tiny, 13cm-16cms, and travel a round trip in excess of 26,000km to spend the warmer months here at Bremer Bay.
Bremer Bay is situated 100km south east of Jerramungup and 180km’s east of Albany on the south coast between Albany and Hopetoun within the Shire of Jerramungup. The bay, after which the town derives its name, is believed to have been named by John Septimus Roe, the Surveyor General, who visited the area in 1848. It is assumed that Roe named this feature after James John Gordon Bremer, captain of the “TAMAR”, under whom he served between 1824 and 1827.
Bremer Bay was originally named Wellstead in 1951 but locals petitioned to have the town renamed in 1962.
Wellstead Homestead - The Currawong and Boobook cottages are delightful heritage listed dwellings located on Peppermint Grove Farm, Bremer Bay. The origins of these cottages hark back to the time when the property was first settled by John Wellstead in 1850. John arrived in Western Australia with the 51st Regiment, British Army in 1840.
After being joined by his wife, Anne, they and their subsequent twelve children grew vegetables and fruit, grazed sheep and cattle and established a dairy, milking 70 head of cows by hand twice a day. Three further generations of Wellstead’s have made the farm a home and to this day continue the re-development of the original crown grant farmland into an exciting and unique eco tourist development.
This stunning property also boasts the popular Historic Wellstead Museum (with over 6,000 exhibits from
yesteryear and growing), and the Wellstead Museum Cafe. This is an original Eco Park, where only native animals are found. Wild kangaroos are found browsing the lawn area or taking a quiet nap in mobs of up to fifty
in and around the farm. The native birdlife is spectacular and birdwatchers will be right at home, especially with the cheeky Currawongs which abound.
John Wellstead built Quaalup Homestead in 1858. The Wellstead family resided in Bremer Bay, however they free-ranged this area with cattle and sheep to preserve their own pasture. During this time they built the Homestead, which was initially used as an outpost and the barn, which stored the various fodder that they cropped. The original Homestead consisted of three rooms: the kitchen, bedroom and a sitting room.
Bremer Bay Airstrip
Over the last few years, the Bremer Bay Airstrip has grown in popularity, especially amongst recreational
pilots. It is located just outside of Bremer Bay, approximately, 2.5km to the northwest of the town site
(Latitude –34.38056, Longitude 119.33194, Elevation 100ft). The airstrip is owned and operated by the Shire of Jerramungup, landing permission is currently not required.