Centenary of the Armistice

Armistice day victoria street 1918

The 11th of the November 2018 marks the centenary of the Armistice.

Many young men and women from Bunbury returned from WWI, however some sadly did not. Just before the end of the war the Swan Express reported the tale of one brave Bunbury soldier on the 16th of August 1918, ‘Pte. C.W. J. Reading of Bunbury was first to respond to the call, and joined the gallant 11th Battalion. He saw service in Egypt and assisted in the now historic landing in Gallipoli. He went practically through the Gallipoli campaign, but just previous to the evacuation of the Turkish peninsula he suffered shell shock, with typhoid immediately supervening’ (Swan Express 1918 p.6). Remarkably Mr Reading convalesced and was sent home only to enlist again and return to France on the front line!

The whole world celebrated when news that the Great War had come to an end. Bunbury’s response was a mixture of jubilation and release. Pictured is a parade that took place down Victoria Street in 1918 just a few days after the Armistice (note the Rose Hotel on the left). The South Western Times of 1918 spoke of an impromptu function just days before the end Armistice, ‘The news that Austria was out of the war was received in Bunbury… with that spontaneous expression of rejoicing which such an event justified’ (South Western Times Tuesday 5th of November 1918 p.3). The emotions of anguish and grief came later as Bunbury and the world took stock of the toll of war.



Exhibition coming soon

Avro Anson Plane WWII

Thanks to Wendy Jenkin (nee Meyer who is the daughter of Wesley (Wes) Meyer) for this amazing image of the Avro Anson. Wes owned the local photographic shop in Bunbury known as the Restella Studio from the 1950s to the 1970’s. Wes is just one of the photographers whose work will be celebrated in Bunbury Museum’s coming exhibition Picturing Bunbury: A celebration of the early photographers who captured Bunbury on film.
The Avro Anson is a British twin-engine, multi-role aircraft built by the aircraft manufacturer Avro. Large numbers of the type served in a variety of roles for the Royal Air Force (RAF), the RAAF and numerous other air forces before, during, and after the Second World War.

Ezywalkin Shoes

Ezywalkin shoe store

The Bunbury branch of the Ezywalkin store opening made news in the Bunbury Herald on June the 23rd  1905. The Ezywalkin company began in Boulder in 1901 where the business quickly expanded and branches opened at Fremantle, Perth, Collie and Bunbury. Within a few years there was hardly a town in Western Australia that didn’t have an Ezywalkin store. Not long after the stores expanded to the eastern states and across Australasia. Ezywalkin manufactured men’s and women’s shoes, boots, slippers and children’s shoes from 1901.  The firm continued until Coles entered the footwear business and purchased Ezywalkin in 1981.

Pictured is the Ezywalkin shoe store. This marvellous example of an art deco retail outlet was situated on Victoria Street. This advert was taken from a 1937 South West Times Annual. Also pictured is a South West beauty on the front cover.

S W Times 1937


Woolworths on Victoria Street


Black & white photograph Woolworths Victoria Street Bunbury 1939 (photo courtesy of the Woolworths Heritage Centre).

You can see the staff served customers from behind the counters. There were no calculators or registers that added the items for you in those days. Each sales assistant had to add the total of the items with a pencil and notepad, then rang up the total amount for the customer. Basically if you did not pass the maths test you did not get the job.
The counters were all made from rosewood and were the same in every Woolworths store up until we built our first post war store in 1948.


Black & White Photograph Woolworths Interior Victoria Street Bunbury 1956 (photo courtesy of the Woolworths Heritage Centre).



The SS Koombana?


 SS Koombana in Port Hedland 1901

Built by Alexander Stephens and Sons in Glasgow the SS Koombana was launched in 1908. Owned by the Adelaide Steamship Company, the ship was built for passengers and cargo for service along the Western Australian coast. Named the SS Koombana after influential Robert Forrest’s Koombana Flour Mill near Bunbury, the luxury vessel was considered ‘as luxurious as the Titanic’…’the last word in seagoing opulence’, with gilt ceilings and plush purple upholstery ( “The Great Nor’West. Marble Bar and its Railway”. Western Mail. 1 May 1909). However its last journey ended tragically with loss of 150 souls, the ship was never found. The SS Koombana was reported missing on the 26th of March 1912. The Geraldton Guardian reported, ‘Up to time of going to press this evening, no word had been received of the s.s. Koombana. It is thought that on the first approach of the storm she headed south-west from Port Hedland, and consequently be very much overdue before reaching Broome’ (Geraldton Guardian, 1912, p.3).

Recently however a mapping team made a surprise discovery off Western Australia’s coast when their equipment uncovered a large structure that appeared to be a ship (pictured). The research vessel and its crew of research scientists had uncovered a shipwreck (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-17/mystery-shipwreck-found-off-pilbara-coast/9663740 ).

SS koombana wreck

The question is could this be that ship? The State Records Office may hold the answer,

The site of the wreck of the SS Koombana has never been located. But the file on the Court of Marine Inquiry into the loss of the ship contains strong clues to its final position. Captain Rantzan, the master of one of the search ships, the Una, reporting to the Chief Harbour Master at Fremantle on 16 April 1912, states that at “19.7 S. and Longitude 118.53 E.” he had found wreckage which “seemed to come from the bottom” of the sea, indicating to him “that the ship was lost at about this point.” Ominously, in the next sentence he states that “at this particular place there were a large number of Sharks to be seen.”( http://www.sro.wa.gov.au/blogs/loss-ss-koombana-1912 )

Only time will tell!


Playing deck billiards on the SS Koombana



Studio photographs taken in Bunbury pre-1960s wanted for scanning!

Jo-anne Goff from Customer service aged4 2

Can you guess who this cute baby is? I’ll give you a clue she works for the City of Bunbury! Below is a gorgeous photo of her mum and dad. These photos were taken at the Restella Studio of Bunbury that was located on Wellington Street where the cake shop is now.

The Museum is currently looking for professional photos taken prior to the 1960s for an up coming exhibition that celebrates Bunbury’s professional photographers… after all they were the people that recorded our history! So if you have any old family photos the Museum would love to have them in the collection (we just scan them, we don’t take them). Don’t be shy, contact us!

Wedding Bruce & Jean Winwood (nee Scott)
Married 27 March 1950 at St Davids Church, South Bunbury.
Restella Studio Bunbury


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)