A Short History of Busselton - Undalup

The City of Busselton sits on the part of Nyungar country called Wadandi Boodja. The Wadandi people are the Traditional Custodians, and have lived and breathed off this ancient land for over 40,000 years.

The region was visited by various explorers and merchants beginning with the Dutch in 1642 who named Cape Leeuwin. The French Baudin Expedition rounded the coast in 1801, naming Hamelin Bay, Cape Naturaliste, Geographe Bay and Cape Leschenault. A sailor Thomas Timothee Vasse was lost overboard and the area became known as The Vasse. American Whalers were hunting along Western Australia’s coast near King George Sound in Albany before 1829. In the 1840’s after European settlement, they came regularly trading supplies and bringing or taking mail.

Captain John Molloy led the initial south west settlement in Augusta in 1830. However the land was difficult to clear as it was heavily timbered, making progress slow. John Garrett Bussell spent time looking in the north of the region and found flat green fields that reminded him of England. He applied for and received a land grant in the Vasse area in 1832 as did Captain Molloy; George Layman; James Turner; and brothers, James and Henry Chapman. Four groups moved to The Vasse in 1834 including the Bussell brothers John, Vernon, Alfred and Charles, George Layman and servants Elijah Dawson and Phoebe Bower; the Chapman brothers and two soldiers.

The relationship between the European settlers and the Wadandi people became strained as the traditional lands were fenced and cultivated. The concept of ownership was vastly different for each culture. This lead to disagreements, fighting and death. The impact of settlement on Aboriginal people was dramatic and there are undocumented stories that speak of massacres. These are still unfolding.

From 1835 the Vasse was referred to as Busselton by the people in Perth. It was laid out as a town in 1839 and in June 1847, the Vasse settlement was gazetted as “Busselton.”

Related Information

Aboriginal Culture

Busselton Heritage Trail

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