The port city of Bunbury is the third largest city in Western Australia after the state capital, Perth, and Mandurah. It is situated 175 kilometres (109 mi) south of Perth's central business district (CBD). The port services the farming, mining and timber industries of the south west originally connected via an extensive rail network.
Panorama of Bunbury from lookout tower
The first registered sighting of 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 was named Geographe after another ship in the fleet.
In 1829, Dr Alexander Collie and Lieutenant Preston explored the area of Bunbury on land. Later Lieutenant Governor Sir James Stirling visited the area and a military post was established. The area was renamed Bunbury by the Governor in recognition of Lieutenant William St. Pierre Bunbury (1812–75), who developed the very difficult inland route fromPinjarra to Bunbury..
The population of the town was 2,970 (1,700 males and 1,270 females) in 1898..
The Pinjarra to Picton Junction section of the South Western Railway line was completed in 1895,connecting Bunbury to Perth, and also to the coal and mineral deposits and agricultural areas to the north and east of Bunbury.
The railway roundhouse and marshalling yards (located at what is now Bunbury Centrepoint shopping centre) were a vital service centre for the south west railway operations of the day. The railway station served as the terminal for the longest lasting named service in Western Australia – the Australind passenger train between Perth, transporting its first passengers on 24 November 1947 and connecting to a newly established bus network distributing passengers all over the South West.
By 1983, the railway into the city (closely following Blair Street's alignment) was considered an eyesore by the local council and developers, who wished to take advantage of the newly elected Burke Labor government's pledges to make Bunbury an alternative city to Perth..
A new station was constructed at Wollaston 4 km to the southeast, and the last train to use the old station departed Bunbury on 28 May 1985 with the new terminal commencing operations the following day . The railway land was then sold and Blair Street realigned. The Australind passenger service was then substantially upgraded in 1987.
At present there are two departures and two arrivals at Wollaston every day of the week. The former railway station is now the Bunbury Visitor Centre and is the main bus station for Bunbury City Transit services. It is also a stop for Transwa and South West Coach Lines bus services.
The first Baron Forrest of Bunbury, (Lord Forrest) was to be the title bestowed on Bunbury born John Forrest, who was an explorer, surveyor and the first Premier of Western Australia. He led three expeditions into the interior of Western Australia. The first in 1869 was in search of Ludwig Leichhardt; the following year he surveyed the route of Edward John Eyre across the Nullarbor Plain to Adelaide. In 1874 he led a party from Geraldton to the overland telegraph line between Adelaide and Darwin in search of the source of the Murchison Riverand pastoral land in the interior of Western Australia..
In 1890, when Western Australia gained rite to self-rule from Britain, Forrest was elected unopposed to the seat of Bunbury in the Legislative Council and was appointed as the first Premier of Western Australia. Forrest's government embarked on a large scale public works expansion under the direction of engineer C. Y. O'Connor, including the building of Fremantle Harbour and the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme. On 13 February 1901 Forrest resigned as Premier of Western Australia and member for Bunbury so he could contest the seat of Swan in the first federal election. On 29 March 1901 Forrest was elected to the first Australian Parliament, where he remained until he resigned due to cancer in March 1918..
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 and of Forret in Fife in the United Kingdom. Forrest died on 2 September 1918 while travelling to London, to receive treatment and hoping to take his seat in the House of Lords. However no Letters patent were issued before his death, so the peerage was not officially created. According to Rubinstein (1991), "his peerage is not mentioned or included in Burke's Peerage, The New Extinct Peerage, the Complete Peerage, or any other standard reference work on the subject."
Transwa provides rail and coach services: 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. Town services are run byTransBunbury with 10 routes.
The Eelup Roundabout, named by the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia as the worst regional intersection in Western Australia, has 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 a overpass and underpass..
The local government of the City of Bunbury has a population of 32,499. In 2007 Bunbury was recognised as Australia's fastest growing city for the 2005/06 period by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Bunbury's climate is similar to that of Western Australia's capital Perth.
Bunbury's lighthouse and Marlston Hill's lookout tower
The Bunbury CBD is located primarily on Victoria Street, while Blair Street is the major road through all of the Bunbury area and has a large number of businesses and retail outlets situated along it. The Bunbury Tower, often called the "Milk Carton" for its distinctive shape and blue-and-white colours, is the major feature of the city centre's skyline. It was built in 1983 by businessman Alan Bond. Also prominent are the old lighthouse and lookout tower in the Marlston Hill district, which has been a focus of the city's cultural and commercial growth since the late 1990s.
Recently a new hotel residential complex was built overlooking the estuary. The foundations and main building are built upon an old grain silo..
Bunbury has sister-city relationships with Setagaya, Japan, and Jiaxing, China. In 2008, Bunbury-Jiaxing Business Office was established to boost business opportunities between the two regions by assisting with communications and facilitating trade..