70 Years of Yachting History in Bunbury

MUS.2016.86.10It is 1948 in Bunbury and life is good! Pictured are a Bunbury boating crew enjoying themselves in the glorious sun (South West Times Annual 1948). This boating party may have been spectators to witness the first Ocean Yacht race to Bunbury from Fremantle. The West Australian reported on the 24th of February 1948,

Raced and handicapped under conditions similar to those governing competitors in the Sydney to Hobart ocean race, 17 keel cruisers will compete in the Fremantle – Bunbury ocean yacht race which will start between midnight tonight and 6am tomorrow.

“Argosy” of Bunbury owned by Ted Luck came in first place.

The ocean race is about to celebrate its 70th Birthday this year on Friday 23rd of February 2018. Celebrating its platinum jubilee the yachts will race 170 nautical miles of blue water. Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club and Koombana Bay Sailing Club partner to host this event.  ocean yacht race

(image courtesy of the Western Mail Thurs 4th of March 1948).




Christmas revisited

victoria street final South view

It is hard to believe that Christmas is here again! Half of this composite image of Victoria Street was a photograph taken by me in December of 2014 when I hadn’t been a resident of Bunbury for that long.

The other part of this photo was taken on Armistice day in 1918 on Victoria Street. Some of the buildings remain, such as the Wellington Hotel on the right (the balcony can just be seen) and the Rose is hidden behind one of the trees, along with Bon Marche and Boulters.

The original image has such an interesting story behind it. The photograph belonged to Jay Sivell’s grandfather who happened to be on the Monkbarns, a ship that was docked in port on the day victory was declared over the enemies in World War One. Jay is an author and blogger who is currently writing a book about her grandfather’s adventures and consequent tragic demise at sea. Her story is a compelling tale of the high seas and also offers an interesting insight to the end of World War One and the declaration of victory in Bunbury. Below is an excerpt of her story;

Dorothy Rumble had gone to the Lyric that evening, with her sister Phyl and two friends, to see the Hollywood heartthrob Douglas Fairbanks in The Man from Painted Post. Halfway through the film, she remembered, at 9.30pm, the screen suddenly went blank.

A disappointed murmur had rippled through the crowd, and then a hastily written message appeared on the screen:

The film was forgotten. Everyone stampeded out into Victoria Street, where firecrackers were going off – left over from Guy Fawkes’ night the previous week. “People linked arms and danced down the street. One or two motor cars – there were not many in Bunbury – were trying to drive through the crowd. They joined in the fun and started honking their horns. Others jumped on the running boards for the ride. Kerosene tins became instantaneous drums,” records her son (Sivell, Jay taken from Lost at Sea – A Sailor’s Life – 40. Armistice day in Bunbury).


A Remarkable Convict: James Hislop

James Hislop

James John Henry Hislop 

It is not known exactly what crime Mr James Hislop was convicted and transported for during 1851 on the Pyrenees bound for Western Australia from England… Some say it was forgery, others say it was grand larceny; however the ship’s record failed to correctly record the criminal offence.  Whatever Hislop was charged with he was sentenced to seven years and upon arrival in the state was granted a ticket of leave. He soon found a bride, an Irish immigrant named Bridget Mulqueen whom he had twelve children with, and thus the Hislop clan of Bunbury began.

Hislop was a well-educated man and he became Bunbury’s first school master. The Kalgoorlie Sun noted on October the 24th 1909, ‘Mr. Hislop was a native of Scotland and at one time was said to be the only man in the state who knew Greek’ (Sun 1909 p.1). He taught John Forrest and Alexander Forrest among other well-known Bunbury residents. In an obituary dated the 28th of October 1909 the Bunbury Herald wrote of Hislop’s kindly deeds, ‘The deceased gentleman at all times assisted any of the illiterate residents with his ready pen, and it is estimated that during his long life he wrote over 1000 letters for the old immigrants to send to their people in the old country’ (Bunbury Herald 1909 p.3). Among his many other talents he was also one of the earliest Councillors.

(Photo courtesy of the WA State Library)

Are you an L.E Man?

Rural Motors Bunbury - Copy

In 1930 the Daily News reported on the ‘new’ Rural Motors Company located on Stephen Street, Bunbury. The Daily described the Ford Agency, ‘The new building makes a handsome addition to the street and is designed to allow cars to run in off the road to fill up with petrol’ (Daily News 15 November 1930 p.6). However according to a new theory printed in the Sunday Times edition April 5 1936 it might be a good idea if you didn’t drive at all! The Sunday Times asks, ‘ Are you an L.E Man? – A New Criterion for Grading Drivers… If you have low ears hide them: for if a new theory is right you are a dangerous driver… An L.E man, according to this hypothesis is reckless and pays little heed to traffic rules. The location of the ears seems to be regarded as a regular danger barometer. High ears for instance indicate a cautious driver’. Well you learn something everyday!

Image courtesy of the South West Times Museum Collection.

Restella Photographic Studio

First Mayoral Ball Lyric Theatre

On the topic of photography… the beautifully etched window below still remains on Wellington Street, Bunbury (where the cake shop is now). A former Bunbury photographic studio it began with a man named George Cox. George started the business after serving in the first World War. The studio was taken over in 1951 by Wesley Meyer (the Museum had the pleasure of listening to his daughter Wendy who gave a talk about the studio – her holiday job in the studio was to ‘spot’ the black and white photos using a very fine brush… the spots were needed because of dust landing on the prints). The above image from the Restella Studio is of the first Mayoral Ball held in the old Lyric theater on the 16th of August 1911. Needless to say this image was just one of many that recorded the history and people of Bunbury.

Restella 1

… while we are on the topic of photography, the most recent edition to the Museum Education collection is this Kodak Autographic Model H camera. Once owned by Cyril Hubert Meade it was thankfully donated by his son Brian Meade. This model was manufactured between 1914 and 1926 and it is in full working order!

Kodak model 3 side view




It is 1941 in Bunbury and World War II has been raging for nearly three years. There is call for young men between 18 – 32 years that are urgently needed to train as pilots, observers and wireless operator – air gunners… what better way to recruit them than to screen an air force film in the Mayfair Theatre Bunbury. This film was presented by Group – Captain Cobby, Australia’s foremost ace in the Great War! (West Australian Saturday 6 1941, p.6).

The then recently constructed Mayfair Theatre in Stephen Street Bunbury was built in Art Deco Style and had what was termed ‘natural air conditioning’. This innovation is described in the Gala Souvenir booklet from August 4th 1939,

‘Large roller shutters have been built into the walls of the theatre to cover these apertures in the winter, but during the warmer weather they can be rolled up into a recess in the ceiling. So while patrons in the summer time will be enclosed in a massive building they will enjoy the same privilege as though they were seated in an open – air theatre garden…’

Magnetico Fantastico!


Our Magnetico Bakelite phones are now in working order! Many many thanks to Mr. Peter Brill (pictured) for taking the effort to drive from Perth to Bunbury, source the materials and collaborate with Raymond Buckley telephone restorer so that these wonderful objects of yesteryear’s technology can be used for our education program. The kids (and some of the adults) are going to love it!

Henderson’s Bus Service

Hendersons Ford T #BY 43 Bunbury (Hendersons Body)

Here are some photos of early buses run by Hendersons of Bunbury. Robert or ‘Yankee Bob’ as he was known, was an early pioneer in country bus passenger transport. He arrived in Western Australia in 1894 from Ontario, Canada. After purchasing a property in Victoria Street he set up a Coffee Palace c1902. Note the number plates on the buses By43, By44 & By45.

It became Henderson’s Coffee Palace c 1902. The coffee palace was also the business address for Henderson’s mail and carrier business. Henderson added refreshment rooms in 1903. Henderson’s Coffee Palace contributed to Bunbury’s tourism industry by providing food and lodging at a time when Bunbury was a popular seaside resort.

The term ‘coffee palace’ was used to describe temperance hotels established between the 1880s and early 1900s. They were hotels that did not serve alcohol and catered for families. Coffee palaces were popular in high tourism areas such as coastal seaside resorts and inner city locations.

Among the items salvaged from the wreck of the Carbet Castle was the ship’s bell, that
summoned passengers at Henderson’s Bus Service when buses were due to depart.
Hendersons Ford T #BY 44 bus
Hendersons Ford T #BY 45 charabanc, Hudson taxi wedding
Photographs courtesy Graeme Gugeri – The bus preservation Society of WA

Lyall’s Mill and Aunty Mary

Mill Workers

This photo, recently acquired by Local Studies, was taken at Lyall’s Mill in the 1930’s. Jack Bertelli (front row, third gentleman from left) worked at Lyall’s Mill which was situated 8 miles from Collie and employed up to 100 workers. Lyall’s Mill operated until 1936 when it was burnt down. The mill was one of the first sawmills owned by the Bunnings Bros in the south-west.

The below letter was sent from Lyall’s Mill to ‘Aunty Mary’ a pseudonym used by Muriel Chase, journalist and philanthropist. In 1903 Chase founded the ‘Children’s Corner’ in the Western Mail. The aim of this column was to form a charity society to help less fortunate children. Children could write in and send money to ‘Aunty Mary’ to become a link in the Silver Chain.

Aunty Mary

Muriel Chase was descended from the Marshall Waller Cliftons, pioneers of Australind. Her maternal grandfather, George Eliot, arrived in Western Australia in 1829, accompanying his cousin Sir James Stirling, first governor of the colony (http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/chase-muriel-jean-eliot-5565). Her legacy was the important part that she played in the development of the Silver Chain Nursing Association.

Article authored by Judy McCall and Nicole Azzalini

Photograph ‘Lyall’s Mill’ courtesy of Mary Boltean (nee Bertelli) daughter of Jack Bertelli.

Photograph accessed from https://www.silverchain.org.au/about-us/our-history/ 10/06/2017

Article ‘ A Letter from Collie’, courtesy of the Western Mail, Saturday 21st March, 1908 p.42


Fit for a Shark’s Meal

Jetty baths

This photo is of the Bunbury Swim Club diving off into the Bunbury Jetty Baths in the 1930s. There were in fact 3 jetty baths constructed in Bunbury; the first in 1886, the second in 1917 and the most recent in the 1930s. People were only too well aware of the danger of being attacked by a shark with many accounts of attacks abounding in the press. The baths provided a safe place to swim with a large shark-proofed fenced area. The South West Times reported on August 4th 1886, ‘Our Bathing house is finished, and to all appearance appears to be faithfully built and well adapted to the purpose for which it is intended, so we may now enjoy the luxury of a bath without the danger of being converted into a meal for a shark’ (South West Times 1886 p.3).