Bunbury historian Bernhard Bischoff explores the city's ever-changing landscape

The history of Bunbury's landscapes: Inner Harbour construction in the early seventies. Photo: Supplied.
The history of Bunbury's landscapes: Inner Harbour construction in the early seventies. Photo: Supplied.

At a casual glance at Bunbury's landscapes there is the coast, the inlet, hills and plains.

The following deals with some of the changes that happened to them. The town centre is on a north facing peninsula.

This peninsula ended in Point Casuarina the northern end of the 136 million-year-old basalt outcrop.

The landbacked wharf made it unrecognisable.

On the east side of the peninsula the combined Collie and Preston rivers were forced by the basalt to take a sharp turn and exit into Koombana Bay.

Inland we find a landscape of hills and plains.

The low lying floodplains occupy about one third of the municipality. Bunbury has suffered from floods right through its short history.

Most flood waters came down from the river and creeks but some came form the ocean.

The original townsite which was restricted to the peninsula, north of Stirling Street by Stirling's two kilometre wide Grant Leschenault Location 26 was dominated by sand dunes, tidal wetlands and mangrove swamps.

Space for town lots and roads was scarce so the sand dune known as Boulters Heights was mined for sand to cover the creek which regularly filled the tidal lagoon at Guppy Park for the construction of Victoria Street and at the same time to enable Stirling Street to link up with Wittenoom Street.

In order to minimise the effects of the floods Bunbury dug drains to carry water to the ocean or to the inlet by the shortest route.

In order to gain dry land for road and rail infrastructure and housing estates as well as playing fields swamps and other low-lying land were land-filled.

Big Swamp was lucky to survive its subdivision plans.

The meandering lower Preston River was straightened and channeled to flow north into Victoria Bay.

There is not much wetland left that can be filled. Considering the diminishing rainfall the remaining wetlands have become very precious.

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