In 1803, French explorer Captain de Freycinet sailed past the area but it wasn’t until the 1830s that Governor James Stirling led an expedition from the Collie River to the Darling Range and properly explored the area. He set up camp at Port Leschenault, which was renamed Bunbury in 1836, and the first European settlers arrived in 1838.
Initially, Bunbury grew full of convicts that created a workforce to expand the economy. By 1900, the timber industry was strong, cutting wood for railways and the gold rush in Donnybrook, and Bunbury soon developed into a town. The Port of Bunbury became busy with exports of wool, timber and grain, and other industries such as whaling, farming and mining.
In the 1980s, the direction of Bunbury shifted to relocate the industry away from the CBD and build a beautiful city around the natural waterways. The railway was considered an eyesore, so they built a new train station 4km south of town and the old railway station is now the city’s visitor centre and major bus terminal.
The Bunbury Lighthouse started with humble beginnings in 1841 as a storm lantern erected on a wooden keg. Thirty years later, a square, wooden lighthouse was built but was replaced in 1903 by a steel structure about 9 metres tall. In 1959, they extended the lighthouse by another 6 metres before adding a flashing light at the top four years later. It wasn’t until 1971 that the current lighthouse replaced the old structure. It stands 27.4 metres and has a great black and white chequered pattern to make it highly visible for kilometres.
We got a great view of it from the Marlston Hill Lookout Tower that is accessible via a spiral staircase. The lookout provides 360 degree views of Bunbury, the marina, Leschenault Inlet, the Indian Ocean and Koombana Bay.
Koombana Bay is a great place to spend the day with family and friends. It has a great beach with safe, calm waters, BBQ facilities and a kiosk. It’s also a quick 10 minute walk to the Marlston Waterfront, which is a mini version of Melbourne’s Docklands. There’s a brewery, taffy factory, café and a few restaurants where you can enjoy a nice dinner while overlooking the bay.
While we were in Bunbury, we stopped at Cafe 140 for a coffee. It was a really colourful place, vibrant, dynamic and BUSY! There was a queue to order but they smashed out the coffees and before we knew it, we had a latte in hand with a little almond biscuit on top.
Nearby, there are two cheese factories, and because Juz simply cannot help herself, we visited them both.
The Old Cheddar Cheese Company
About 30km south of Bunbury is Ludlow and The Old Cheddar Cheese Company. They specialise in making rich, creamy cheddar cheese and add different herbs and spices to make a great variety of flavours. The award winner is the Original Creamy Cheddar, a full flavoured, tangy cheese that’s super creamy and delicious. The flavoured varieties include garlic and chives, cracked black pepper and chilli.
Ha Ve Cheese
About 30km north of Bunbury is a small town called Harvey, and at Ha Ve Cheese, they made a whole bunch of different sorts, like soft while mould cheeses, Romano, fetta, blue vein and flavoured savoury cheeses. All cheeses are suitable for vegetarians and are Halal certified and free cheese tastings are available.
- OMG Triple Cream Brie – gooey and creamy with a hint of chalk in the centre, it was tart and creamy with a wonderful salty tang.
- Haloumi – squeaky and firm, we got some for our BBQ lunch the next day.
- Natural Savoury – firm and full of flavour, like a fetta.
- Romano – creamy, salty, full flavoured and very mature!
- Harvey Blue – briney and soft with a gently spicy mould.
They also offer ice cream, local produce like sauces, pickles and preserves, and if you truly love cheese, you can enrol in their cheese making course. After our cheese tasting, we went outside to meet their camels. Juz got a little bit too friendly with one of them.
Information & Accommodation
Bunbury Visitor Centre – The Old Station, Carmody Place
Dolphin Retreat YHA – 14 Wellington Street, 08 9792 4690