Bunbury Travel Guide
The delightfully named Bunbury may sound like an eccentric character from an Oscar Wilde play but as a port city and the third largest town in Western Australia, it is as Australian as can be. Most Bunbury travel guides will tell you that the town was discovered in 1803 by a French explorer and served as a military campsite in advance of the first settlers in the area, who actually failed to materialise. It did not receive the name Bunbury until 1836 and the long-awaited settlers arrived two years later.
It was to be a further half century, however, before Bunbury rose from the status of a small colony to a thriving town. This was effected chiefly by the demand for timber for railways and the gold rush in the neighbouring town of Donnybrook. From the turn of the century Bunbury never looked back and its port became a prolific channel for exports.
Bunbury tourism now enjoys a host of natural attractions including delightful, pristine beaches, caves, inlets and lagoons, a basalt rock formation formed 150 million years ago, a mangrove walk, wildlife reserves, forests and much more. Added to these are facilities for yachting; diving; close encounters with bottle nose dolphins and whales; restaurants; galleries and wineries, all contributing to make Bunbury one of those must-see places.
The imposing Victorian architecture of the town lends it an ‘olde worlde’ feel and one of its oldest buildings is appropriately the museum. There are also galleries of arts and crafts and aboriginal culture as well as markets and fine shopping. With festivals, theatres, live shows and historic tours, there is no chance of a moment’s boredom in Bunbury.
For lovers of outdoor entertainments, the Big Swamp Reserve and Wildlife Park hosts an extraordinary number of native birds and marsupials and the reserve has a 200m long boardwalk which you can traverse to see the remnants of the 20,000 year old white mangrove swamps. Top of most people’s list is a visit to the conservation and dolphin research centre which includes personal introductions to the fascinating creatures. These can also be seen regularly in their natural habitat in Koombana Bay. From June to September, you can see the humpback and southern right whales play awhile before leaving for the Antarctic.
The Ngilgi Cave, as its Aboriginal name suggests, is rich in Aboriginal history as well as well as some spectacular calcite formations, and with organised diving nearby, there is a great deal to explore in the area. And if you still have the energy, explore Wellington Discovery Forest or take a trip up to Boulters Height Lookout to admire the breathtaking panorama of this truly remarkable city.