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Bunbury, Western Australia facts for kids

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Western Australia
Bunbury 03.jpg
Panorama of Bunbury from lookout tower
Bunbury is located in Western Australia
Location in Western Australia
Population 74,363 (2018) (23rd)
 • Density 333.77/km2 (864.5/sq mi)
Established 1836
Area 222.8 km2 (86.0 sq mi)(2016 urban)
Time zone AWST (UTC+8)
Region South West
State electorate(s)
  • Bunbury
  • Collie-Preston
  • Murray-Wellington
Federal Division(s) Forrest

Bunbury is a coastal city in the Australian state of Western Australia, approximately 175 kilometres (109 mi) south of the state capital, Perth. It is the state's third most populous city after Perth and Mandurah, with a population of approximately 75,000.

Located at the south of the Leschenault Estuary, Bunbury was established in 1836 on the orders of Governor James Stirling, and named in honour of its founder, Lieutenant (at the time) Henry Bunbury. A port was constructed on the existing natural harbour soon after, and eventually became the main port for the wider South West region. Further economic growth was fuelled by completion of the South Western Railway in 1893, which linked Bunbury with Perth.

Greater Bunbury includes four local government areas (the City of Bunbury and the shires of Capel, Dardanup, and Harvey), and extends between Yarloop in the north, Boyanup to the south and Capel to the southwest.


Pre-European history

The original inhabitants of Greater Bunbury are the Indigenous Australian Noongar people. The people hunted and fished throughout the sub-region prior to the first European settlement in the 1830s.

Early colonial period

A view of Koombana Bay 1840
Thomas Colman Dibdin, A view of Koombana Bay, 1840, hand coloured lithograph, National Library of Australia

The first registered sighting of Greater Bunbury was by French explorer Captain Louis de Freycinet from his ship the Casuarina in 1803. He named the area Port Leschenault after the expedition's botanist, Leschenault de La Tour. The bay on Greater Bunbury's western shores was named Geographe after another ship in the fleet.

In 1829, Dr Alexander Collie and Lieutenant Preston explored the area of Bunbury on land. In 1830 Lieutenant Governor Sir James Stirling visited the area and a military post was subsequently established; it only lasted six months. The area was renamed Bunbury by the Governor in recognition of Lieutenant Henry William St Pierre Bunbury, who developed the very difficult inland route from Pinjarra to Bunbury. Bunbury township was mentioned in the Government Gazette in 1839, but lots in the township were not surveyed until 1841. In March 1841 lots were declared open for selection.

By 1842 Bunbury was home to 16 buildings including an inn. Thereafter, a growing port serviced the settlers and the subsequent local industries that developed.

One of the major industries to open up to cement the importance of Bunbury as a port was the timber industry. Timber logs would be floated down the Collie River to be loaded aboard ships headed to the Northern Hemisphere or to South Africa where the hardwood timbers were used for railway sleepers.

In 1884 the Government decided to construct a railway from Bunbury to Boyanup, 16 miles (26 km) long. When the line was completed in 1887, the contractor who had built it obtained a contract to control and work it, which he did with horses. The line was eventually taken over by the Government in 1891 and operated with locomotives. The inconvenience of a railway isolated from the capital gave rise to agitation and in 1893 the South Western Railway was constructed between East Perth and Picton, connecting Greater Bunbury and Perth. The Boyanup line was extended to Donnybrook, Western Australia in the same year. The railways connected the port of Bunbury to the coal and mineral deposits and agricultural areas to the north and east of Greater Bunbury.

The population of the town was 2,970 (1,700 males and 1,270 females) in 1898.

In 1903 a breakwater to further protect the bay and port area was completed.

Federation to present day

The Old Bunbury railway station served as the terminal for the Australind passenger train between Perth, transporting its first passengers on 24 November 1947. The last train to use the station departed on 28 May 1985 with a new station opening at East Bunbury, 4 kilometres (2 mi) to the south-east the following day. The railway land was then sold and Blair Street realigned.


Bunbury is situated 175 kilometres south of Perth, at the original mouth of the Preston River and near the mouth of the Collie River at the southern end of the Leschenault Inlet, which opens to Koombana Bay and the larger Geographe Bay which extends southwards to Cape Naturaliste.


Bunbury has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen classification Csa) with warm summers and cool winters.

Climate data for Bunbury, Western Australia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 40.6
Average high °C (°F) 29.7
Average low °C (°F) 15.4
Record low °C (°F) 6.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 11.2
Humidity 44 43 46 55 59 64 65 66 64 58 52 48 55
Avg. precipitation days 2.4 1.9 3.5 9.2 12.8 17.7 18.7 19.0 17.7 9.8 6.8 3.8 123.3


In 2007 Bunbury was recognised as Australia's fastest growing city for the 2005/06 period by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

At June 2018 the estimated urban population of Bunbury was 74,363. At the 2016 Census the median age was 38. It is estimated that by 2031 the population of the Greater Bunbury region will exceed 100,000 people.

In urban Bunbury, 72.1% of people were born in Australia. The most common other countries of birth were England 6.0%, New Zealand 3.4%, South Africa 1.9%, the Philippines 1.1% and India 0.7%. 85.0% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Afrikaans 1.0%, Italian 0.8%, Tagalog 0.5%, Mandarin 0.2%, and Filipino 0.4%.

In the 2016 Census the most common responses for religion in Bunbury were No religion 34.6%, Catholic 20.5%, Anglican 17.8%, Christian, nfd (not further described) 3.4%.

The most common occupations in Bunbury included Technicians and Trades Workers 19.0%, Professionals 15.8%, Labourers 12.7%, and Clerical and Administrative Workers 11.8%. In 2016 Bunbury had an unemployment rate of 8.2%.


Arts and entertainment

A number of cultural organisations are located in Bunbury, including:

  • Bunbury Regional Art Galleries
  • Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre, with theatre, film and live performance
  • Stirling Street Arts Centre

The Bunbury Historical Society is located in the historic King Cottage, which was built around 1880. In 1966 the cottage was purchased by the City of Bunbury and subsequently leased to the Society. The rooms of the cottage are furnished and artifacts displayed to reflect the way of life for a family in Bunbury in the period from the 1880s to the 1920s.

Tourism and recreation

There are many tourism and recreational opportunities in Bunbury. Some of the most popular attractions include

  • Dolphin Discovery Centre
  • Bunbury Back Beach
  • Koombana Bay
  • Bunbury Wildlife Park
  • Leschenault Inlet

It is also very close to the Ferguson Valley.


There are a number of sporting clubs in Greater Bunbury.



The economy of Bunbury is diverse, reflecting the range of heavy and general industries in the locality, mining, agricultural landscapes, services for the growing population, key transport links and the influence of Perth.

The mining and mineral processing sector remains the main economic driver for Bunbury ($2 billion annual turnover). The agriculture sector however, remains vitally important as the value of production is approximately $146 million per annum (2005/06) which equates to approximately 30 per cent of the South West region's agricultural production.

Other industries that are vital to the economic well-being of Greater Bunbury include retail and service industries, building industry, timber production and tourism. Bunbury is home to SIMCOA, which is Australia's only silicon manufacturing company. The Bunbury Port will continue to be the centre of economic activity for the Greater Bunbury sub-region with the flow of goods through it to and from all parts of the world. The proposed expansion of the port, as identified in the Bunbury Port Inner Harbour Structure Plan, will promote further economic growth for the sub-region, and may in time be an economic stimulus for the corporate support and ancillary services associated with port-based industries locating to Bunbury city centre, further strengthening its role as a regional city.


Education is compulsory in Western Australia between the ages of six and seventeen, corresponding to primary and secondary school. Schools that serve high school students in the area include Bunbury Senior High School, Newton Moore Senior High School, Manea Senior College, College Row School (K–12 education support), Australind Senior High School, Eaton Community College, Dalyellup College, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School (K–12), Bunbury Catholic College, Grace Christian School, and Our Lady of Mercy College.

Tertiary education

Tertiary education is available through a number of universities and technical and further education (TAFE) colleges. South Regional TAFE is a State Training Provider providing a range of vocational education with campuses in Bunbury, Albany, and other locations in the southern Western Australia region.

Edith Cowan University also has a campus based in Bunbury.



Bunbury Airport services Greater Bunbury and is located 8 kilometres (5 mi) southeast of the city centre.

TransWA provides rail and coach services from Bunbury Terminal: Australind train, GS3, SW1 and SW2 to Bunbury and services south from Bunbury and South West Coach Lines provides coach services to and from Bunbury. Bus services in Greater Bunbury are run by TransBunbury with 10 routes.

National Route 1 provides road access to the wider region, and includes:

  • Forrest Highway, a dual carriageway road linking north to Perth
  • South Western Highway linking to the southeast of Bunbury

Bussell Highway links to Busselton to the west.

The Eelup Rotary, where Forrest Highway terminates in East Bunbury, was named by the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia as the worst regional intersection in Western Australia and has since undergone a $16m upgrade, which included eight sets of traffic lights (which were switched on in the early hours of Monday 21 May 2012) and extra lanes for each entrance. The government was criticised for breaking a 2008 election promise to build an overpass and underpass.

Notable people

Notable people who come from or have lived in Bunbury include:

John Forrest 1898
John Forrest was an explorer, surveyor and the first Premier of Western Australia. On 6 February 1918, Forrest was informed that he was to be raised to the British peerage as "Baron Forrest of Bunbury in the Commonwealth of Australia". Despite the announcement, however, no letters patent were issued before his death, so the peerage was not officially created.
  • Leon Baker, AFL footballer for Essendon Football Club, played in 1984 and 1985 Premierships
  • Paul Barnard, AFL footballer for Essendon Football Club, played in 2000 Premiership
  • Natalie Barr, current Sunrise news presenter
  • Jamie Bennell, West Coast Eagles AFL player
  • Noel Brunning, GWN news anchor
  • Dianne Buswell, professional dancer, Strictly Come Dancing
  • Dorothy Carroll, geologist
  • Tracey Cross, Paralympic swimmer
  • Kevin Cullen, doctor and winemaker
  • Mary Ellen Cuper, Aboriginal postmistress and telegraphist
  • Courtney Eaton, actress, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Troy Elder, field hockey player
  • Alexander Forrest, explorer, politician and investor
  • John Forrest, First Premier of Western Australia and cabinet minister in Australia's first parliament
  • Cameron Gliddon, Cairns Taipans NBL player
  • Murray Goodwin, Zimbabwe, Western Australia and Sussex cricketer
  • Alexandra Hagan, Olympic rower in Australian Women's Eight at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic games
  • Ben Howlett, Essendon Football Club AFL player
  • Adam Hunter, West Coast Eagles ex-AFL player
  • Neville Jetta, Melbourne Football Club AFL player
  • Bob Maumill, 882 6PR radio presenter
  • Newton Moore, Mayor of Bunbury, Minister for Lands and Agriculture, 8th Premier of Western Australia, Major General (WWI), member of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom
  • John Boyle O'Reilly, Irish-born poet, sent to Bunbury in February, 1868 as a convict, escaped on an American whaling ship in 1869.
  • Aristos Papandroulakis, television, Surprise Chef
  • Kyle Reimers, Essendon Football Club ex-AFL player
  • Josh Risdon, Soccer player for Western Sydney Wanderers FC in the A-League and Australia national soccer team
  • Edwin Rose, pastoralist president, Royal Agricultural Society of WA
  • George Canler Rose, pioneering Kimberley pastoralist
  • Barry Shepherd, cricketer
  • Richard Adolphus Sholl, Member of the WA Legislative Council 1886–90, member of Legislative Assembly 1890–97
  • Robert Frederick Sholl, pearler and investor
  • Robert Frederick Sholl, Western Australian representative at the Australasian Federal Convention 1897
  • Nicole Trunfio, model
  • Bruce Wallrodt, Paralympic athlete
  • Shani Waugh, professional golfer
  • Mark Worthington, Cairns Taipans NBL player, 2008 and 2012 Olympian

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