Sunday History Photo / WA

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 09:00
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Augusta is a town on the south-west coast of Western Australia, where the Blackwood River emerges into Flinders Bay. It is the nearest town to Cape Leeuwin, on the furthest southwest corner of the Australian continent. The town is within the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River local government area, and is in the Leeuwin Ward.

Augusta was a summer holiday town for many during most of the twentieth century, but late in the 1990s many people chose to retire to the region for its cooler weather. As a consequence of this and rising land values in the Augusta-Margaret River area, the region has experienced significant social change
The coastline near the Augusta area was first sighted by Europeans in March 1622 when the Dutch East India Company ship Leeuwin (Lioness) mapped and named the land north of Cape Leeuwin between Hamelin Bay and Point D'Entrecasteaux 't Landt van de Leeuwin. In 1801 Captain Matthew Flinders named the "south-western, and most projecting part of Leeuwin's Land" Cape Leeuwin.

Augusta was founded in 1830. In March of that year, a number of settlers, including John Molloy and members of the Bussell and Turner families, had arrived at the Swan River Colony on board the Warrior. On their arrival the Lieutenant-Governor Captain James Stirling advised them that most of the good land near the Swan River had already been granted, and suggested that they form a new sub-colony in the vicinity of Cape Leeuwin.
The following month, Stirling sailed with a party of prospective settlers on board the Emily Taylor. After arriving at the mouth of the Blackwood River, the party spent four days exploring the area. Stirling then confirmed his decision to establish a subcolony, the settlers' property was disembarked, and the town of Augusta declared at the site.

Stirling named the town in honour of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, the sixth son of George III, due to its location within Sussex County, one of the 26 counties of Western Australia that were designated in 1829 as cadastral divisions.
During the 1880s, an expansion of the timber industry occurred following the construction of a timber mill at nearby Kudardup and the completion of jetties at Hamelin Bay and Flinders Bay.
Augusta was a stopping place on the Busselton to Flinders Bay Branch Railway, which was government run from the 1920s to the 1950s. Prior to that M. C. Davies had a timber railway system that went to both Hamelin Bay and Flinders Bay jetties in the 1890s.

In 1961, over 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) of farms, bush land and forests between Margaret River and Augusta were destroyed by bushfires. Augusta was saved from these because a serious fire a few months earlier had created a low fuel zone north of the town. The Augusta residents cared for the school children who had been evacuated from Karridale and Kudardup.
Many tourist websites and information conflate Augusta and Cape Leeuwin with features that exist nearby. The Augusta townsite now also includes the former separate Flinders Bay community at its southern end, where there had been a jetty, railway terminus, and whaling location. The new Augusta Boat Harbour to the south of Flinders Bay, is well outside of the townsite

Matthew Flinders named Cape Leeuwin after the first known ship to have visited the area is the Leeuwin ("Lioness"), a Dutch vessel that charted some of the nearby coastline in 1622. The log of the Leeuwin has been lost, so very little is known of the voyage. However, the land discovered by the Leeuwin was recorded on a 1627 map by Hessel Gerritsz: Caert van't Landt van d'Eendracht ("Chart of the Land of Eendracht"), which appears to show the coast between present-day Hamelin Bay and Point D’Entrecasteaux. Cape Leeuwin itself cannot be recognised.

Other European vessels passed by for the next two centuries, including the Dutch 't Gulden Zeepaert, commanded by François Thijssen, in 1627 and the French Gros Venture, under Louis Aleno de St Aloüarn, in 1772.
The first known sighting of the cape was by Bruni d'Entrecasteaux in 1791. d'Entrecasteaux thought the cape was an island, and named it "Isle St Allouarn" ("St Allouarn Island"), in honour of Captain de St Aloüarn. Ten years later, Matthew Flinders began his survey of the South coast of New Holland from Cape Leeuwin in 1801 when he named it. Flinders landed in the bay to the east of Cape Leeuwin, today’s Flinders Bay. Flinders was aware that the area had been known to the Dutch as "Leeuwin's Land".
Cape Leeuwin is the most south-westerly mainland point of the Australian Continent, in the state of Western Australia. A few small islands and rocks, the St Alouarn Islands, extend further to the south. The nearest settlement, north of the cape, is Augusta. South-east of Cape Leeuwin, the coast of Western
Australia goes much further south.

Located on headland of the cape is the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and the buildings that were used by the lighthouse keepers. In Australia, the Cape is considered the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean; however most other nations and bodies consider the Southern Ocean to only exist south of 60°S

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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 10:48

Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 10:48
Thanks Doug for another briliant read.

You've compiled a fantastic history here with not only a detailed narative but maps and plans. Being a historian myself I know you've put in a massive amount of effort in your quest for information.

Outsanding research and well done.

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Reply By: B1B2 - Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 18:59

Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 18:59
The effort you put into this requires more than just a tick. What a great read, I will definitely have a look at Leeuwin and Augusta when we venture to the SW WA in the near future.


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Reply By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016 at 00:53

Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016 at 00:53
Yes indeed, Doug, another great Sunday History Lesson from you.

One of the reasons, the early maritime explorers took so long to actually identify the cape at Cape Leeuwin is that its awfully hard to get close to in even a small vessel, as it is surrounded by awful treacherous water. Having rounded Cape Leeuwin at least a dozen times in small sailboats (<40'), even in modern times with very accurate GPS navigation systems, the most gung ho navigator still gives it a wide berth!

Another is that as capes go, it is a most unpreposessing geographical feature, being very low to the water, not a big high prominent bluff like many headlands. If it didn't have a very tall lighthouse on it, to this day it would still be very difficult to identify from the sea.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016 at 00:03

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016 at 00:03
A great report Doug - I missed it over the weekend. I am still writing my travelogue from our trip to Augusta earlier this year. It sort of stalled when I got sidetracked into the history and tragedies of the early pioneers, then I never got time to finish it. It will be up and running as soon as I get a chance.


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