Busselton Settlement Art Project

In 2009, the City of Busselton celebrated its 175th Anniversary since founding and first European settlers made it their home. 

The City commemorated this anniversary in response to community interest, by commissioning a heritage sculpture project. Well known WA sculptor, Greg James, was awarded the contract to create six life size bronze designs. His concept acknowledges the Wadandi people, the Traditional Owners of the land, the European settlers and the first industries that underpinned the region’s economy.

Greg made models of the six sculptures which was a good thing, because changes needed to be made to several! These are on display in the waiting area outside the Council Chambers. 


The initial sculpture proposed by Greg was considered inappropriate by both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal community members and removed from display. Over a series of meetings facilitated by a consultant, the Aboriginal community recommended Gaywal who was a leader at the time of settlement. This nomination was supported by the Steering Committee of the Settlement Art Project and this was further approved by the Councillors at a briefing session.

“Gaywal is a symbol of strength for our men and boys and we consider that he was the last of the traditional men who shows we were here first.” - Aboriginal Community representatives

John Garrett Bussell

John Garrett Bussell explored The Vasse area with surveyor Robert Edwards, looking for better soil and land. The sculpture represents the four families which founded the town: brothers Henry and James Chapman, George Layman, Elijah Dawson and brothers John, Charles, Vernon and Alfred Bussell and their maid Phoebe Bower. Phoebe Bower was the first woman to live in the district and a small plaque installed in her honour, can be found on the flag pole in Victoria Square.

Whaler’s Wife

The whalers were among the first non-Aboriginal visitors to hunt along the Geographe Bay coastline. After European settlement, Captains were sometimes accompanied by their wives on the journey. The wives, left in a new and harsh environment, would have watched as their husbands sailed away, wondering when they might return. They often stayed at Westbrook Homestead in Kaloorup and had their babies and in exchange for food and lodging, they taught the children.

Timber Worker

The timber man uses a broad axe to hew logs in readiness for shipping. This industry was the mainstay of the Vasse region in the 1800's, with family mills set up in strategic locations through the area.  The Ballaarat engine, the first in Western Australia, was commissioned to bring jarrah timber from the forests at Maryvale to the Lockeville Jetty at Wonnerup from 1871-1887. The timber was shipped as far as the United Kingdom and United States as well as used in the growing town's own government buildings.

Pioneer Woman

The women of the community suffered great hardships and probably a lifestyle they didn’t expect upon arrival. They sewed the families clothing by hand which was painstaking, in between looking after gardens, keeping the house in order and educating children. Ships coming to port were greeted with eagerness as goods were traded for items they couldn’t make, and often brought news from home.

Spanish Settler

The first Spanish migrants moved to The Vasse in the early 1900’s. They contributed to the region with their hard working ethic and brought diversity to the population. Most of the Spanish families joined as group settlers in Yoongarillup. They worked hard cultivating their properties in a variety of ways including vineyards and wine making and potato farming. Their worked in the timber industry or had employment on the Busselton Jetty. Like all the settlers, they were very resourceful.


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