Bernhard Bischoff celebrates Bunbury's proud history

Protecting Bunbury's history: Bernhard Bischoff believes Bunbury's history is something to be celebrated.
Protecting Bunbury's history: Bernhard Bischoff believes Bunbury's history is something to be celebrated.

For Bernhard Bischoff, Bunbury's history is something that should be known, appreciated, and celebrated.

The 80-year-old recently celebrated 50 years since setting sail on the Australis from Germany and has called Australia home ever since.

Departing with his collection of books and cello in tow he was bound for Australia to marry his soon-to-be wife who he met in Greece whilst studying Geology.

The pair married two weeks after Mr Bischoff arrived in Australia and had twin girls soon after.

He worked for BHP for more than seven years before a downturn meant the end of his job and he came to Bunbury with his family in 1975.

It was then that he began looking at Bunbury's history with a job at the tourist bureau sparking his interest.

"I was trying to protect some of the buildings and from then on I started to realise that Bunbury needed some help in protecting its heritage," he said.

"The post office, Koombana house - too many things were lost during a short period.

"Bunbury is underrated as a historic place absolutely - I find Bunbury quite a fascinating place when you look in to it.

"The fact that it's got five pubs on the main street and alot of almost village-like characteristics still - we don't want the place to be totally re-organised into a modern city that's got no roots."

Among his many achievements in photography, geology and history, Mr Bischoff has been a vocal supporter of preserving Bunbury's bushland.

He was recently named as one of nine South West people to be on the Preston River to Ocean Regional Park and Leschenault Regional Park advisory committee.

"One of my major achievements was the establishment of the Preston River to Ocean regional park that was a 10 to 15 year fight with the council," he said.

Mr Bischoff said he learnt his appreciation for history and heritage from growing up in Germany as well as from his father who was a medieval historian specialising in topography.

"I think if we haven't got any idea of the past, we've really got no guides for the future," he said.

"Bunbury struggled for at least 100 years - there was no proper water supply, no place to put official buildings.

"In 1830 Stirling tried to establish a settlement here and that failed because he took all the good land himself south of Stirling Street was all his private estate and so Bunbury was forced to try and make a living from Stirling Street north, which was sand dunes and mangroves and waterways - so it was really hopeless and no one wanted to settle here."

Mr Bischoff will be providing Bunbury Mail readers with a historical story each month, delving into the city's unique past.

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