Located at the south of the Leschenault Estuary, Bunbury was established in 1836 on the orders of Governor James Stirling, and named in honour of its founder, Lieutenant Henry Bunbury. A port was constructed on the existing natural harbour soon after, and eventually became the main port for the wider South West region. Further economic growth was fuelled by completion of the South Western Railway in 1893, which linked Bunbury with Perth.
Greater Bunbury includes four local government areas, and extends between Yarloop in the north, Boyanup to the south and Capel to the southwest.
The original inhabitants of Greater Bunbury are the Indigenous Australian Noongar people. The people hunted and fished throughout the sub-region prior to the first European settlement in the 1830s.
The first registered sighting of Greater Bunbury was by French explorer Captain Louis de Freycinet from his ship the Casuarina in 1803. He named the area Port Leschenault after the expedition's botanist, Leschenault de La Tour. The bay on Greater Bunbury's western shores was named Geographe after another ship in the fleet.
In 1829, Dr Alexander Collie and Lieutenant Preston explored the area of Bunbury on land. In 1830 Lieutenant Governor Sir James Stirling visited the area and a military post was subsequently established; it only lasted six months. The area was renamed Bunbury by the Governor in recognition of Lieutenant Henry William St Pierre Bunbury, who developed the very difficult inland route from Pinjarra to Bunbury. Bunbury township was mentioned in the Government Gazette in 1839, but lots in the township were not surveyed until 1841. In March 1841 lots were declared open for selection.
By 1842 Bunbury was home to 16 buildings including an inn. Thereafter, a growing port serviced the settlers and the subsequent local industries that developed.
One of the major industries to open up to cement the importance of Bunbury as a port was the timber industry. Timber logs would be floated down the Collie River to be loaded aboard ships headed to the Northern Hemisphere or to South Africa where the hardwood timbers were used for railway sleepers.
In 1884 the Government decided to construct a railway from Bunbury to Boyanup, 16 miles (26 km) long. When the line was completed in 1887, the contractor who had built it obtained a contract to control and work it, which he did with horses. The line was eventually taken over by the Government in 1891 and operated with locomotives. The inconvenience of a railway isolated from the capital gave rise to agitation and in 1893 the South Western Railway was constructed between East Perth and Picton, connecting Greater Bunbury and Perth. The Boyanup line was extended to Donnybrook, Western Australia in the same year. The railways connected the port of Bunbury to the coal and mineral deposits and agricultural areas to the north and east of Greater Bunbury.
The population of the town was 2,970 (1,700 males and 1,270 females) in 1898.
In 1903 a breakwater to further protect the bay and port area was completed.
The Old Bunbury railway station served as the terminal for the Australind passenger train between Perth, transporting its first passengers on 24 November 1947. The last train to use the station departed on 28 May 1985 with a new station opening at East Bunbury, 4 kilometres (2 mi) to the south-east the following day. The railway land was then sold and Blair Street realigned.
Bunbury is situated 175 kilometres south of Perth, at the original mouth of the Preston River and near the mouth of the Collie River at the southern end of the Leschenault Inlet, which opens to Koombana Bay and the larger Geographe Bay which extends southwards to Cape Naturaliste.
Bunbury has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen classification Csa) with warm summers and cool winters.
In 2007 Bunbury was recognised as Australia's fastest growing city for the 2005/06 period by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
At June 2015 the estimated urban population of Bunbury was 75,628. At the 2011 Census the median age was 36. It is estimated that by 2031 the population of the Greater Bunbury region will exceed 100,000 people.
In Bunbury (Significant Urban Areas), 74.0% of people were born in Australia. The most common other countries of birth were England 6.3%, New Zealand 3.4%, South Africa 1.8%, Scotland 0.8% and Philippines 0.7%. 88.1% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Italian 1.0%, Afrikaans 0.8%, Tagalog 0.3%, Filipino 0.3% and Mandarin 0.2%.
In the 2011 Census the most common responses for religion in Bunbury (Significant Urban Areas) were No religion 27.2%, Anglican 22.7%, Catholic 22.2%, Uniting Church 3.7% and Christian, nfd 3.3%.
The most common occupations in Bunbury (Significant Urban Areas) included Technicians and Trades Workers 20.4%, Professionals 15.0%, Clerical and Administrative Workers 12.9%, and Labourers 12.5%. In 2011 Bunbury had an unemployment rate of 4.9%.
The Greater Bunbury sub-region comprises the four local government areas of the City of Bunbury, Shire of Capel, Shire of Dardanup and Shire of Harvey. The Greater Bunbury Region Scheme, in operation since November 2007, provides the legal basis for planning in the Greater Bunbury sub-region.
The Greater Bunbury sub-region is administered by State and local governments. There is no sub-region government structure in place for Greater Bunbury.
In December 2013 the Western Australian Planning Commission published the Greater Bunbury Strategy to guide urban, industrial and regional land use planning; and associated infrastructure delivery in the Greater Bunbury sub-region in the short, medium and long terms. The Strategy provides for the growth of Greater Bunbury through infill development of existing urban areas and the development of greenfield land in Waterloo east of Eaton, to provide for a population of 150,000 people beyond 2050.
The economy of Bunbury is diverse, reflecting the range of heavy and general industries in the locality, mining, agricultural landscapes, services for the growing population, key transport links and the influence of Perth.
The mining and mineral processing sector remains the main economic driver for Bunbury ($2 billion annual turnover). The agriculture sector however, remains vitally important as the value of production is approximately $146 million per annum (2005/06) which equates to approximately 30 per cent of the South West region’s agricultural production.
Other industries that are vital to the economic well-being of Greater Bunbury include retail and service industries, building industry, timber production and tourism. The Bunbury Port will continue to be the centre of economic activity for the Greater Bunbury sub-region with the flow of goods through it to and from all parts of the world. The proposed expansion of the port, as identified in the Bunbury Port Inner Harbour Structure Plan, will promote further economic growth for the sub-region, and may in time be an economic stimulus for the corporate support and ancillary services associated with port-based industries locating to Bunbury city centre, further strengthening its role as a regional city.
Education is compulsory in Western Australia between the ages of six and seventeen, corresponding to primary and secondary school. Tertiary education is available through a number of universities and technical and further education (TAFE) colleges.
South Regional TAFE is a State Training Provider providing a range of vocational education with campuses in Bunbury, Albany, and other locations in the southern Western Australia region.
Television services available include:
The programming schedule is mainly the same as the Seven, Nine and Ten stations in Perth with variations for News bulletins, sport telecasts such as the Australian Football League and National Rugby League, children's and lifestyle programs and infomercials or paid programming.
GWN7 had its origins in Bunbury as BTW-3 in the late 1960s and then purchased other stations in Kalgoorlie and Geraldton, as well as launching a satellite service in 1986 to form the current network. GWN7's studios and offices are based at Roberts Crescent in Bunbury, with its transmitter located at Mount Lennard approximately 25 km to the east. The station produces a nightly 30-minute news program for regional WA at 5:30pm on weeknights.
WIN Television maintains a newsroom in the city; however, the station itself is based in Perth. The WIN newsroom provides regional coverage for sister station NEW-10's TEN Eyewitness News bulletins at 5pm each night, which are simulcast on WIN.
On 28 July 2011, new digital television services from GWN and WIN commenced transmission. A new stand alone Network Ten affiliated channel branded as Ten West was the first of the new digital only channels to go on-air. The other new digital only channels that are also now available in Bunbury include 7Two, 7mate, ishop tv, RACING.COM, WIN HD, One, Eleven, TVSN, Gold, 9Gem and 9Go!.
Subscription Television service Foxtel is available via Satellite.
Bunbury Herald, South Western Times and Bunbury Mail are local newspapers available in Bunbury and surrounding region.
Newspapers from Perth including The West Australian and The Sunday Times are also available, as well as national newspapers such as The Australian and The Australian Financial Review.
A number of cultural organisations are located in Bunbury, including:
The Bunbury Historical Society is located in the historic King Cottage, which was built around 1880. In 1966 the cottage was purchased by the City of Bunbury and subsequently leased to the Society. The rooms of the cottage are furnished and artifacts displayed to reflect the way of life for a family in Bunbury in the period from the 1880s to the 1920s.
There are many tourism and recreational opportunities in Bunbury. Some of the most popular attractions include
It is also very close to the Ferguson Valley.
There are a number of sporting clubs in Greater Bunbury.
Bunbury Airport services Greater Bunbury and is located 8 kilometres (5 mi) southeast of the city centre.
TransWA provides rail and coach services: Australind train, GS3, SW1 and SW2 to Bunbury and services south from Bunbury and South West Coach Lines provides coach services to and from Bunbury. Bus services in Greater Bunbury are run by TransBunbury with 10 routes.
National Route 1 provides road access to the wider region, and includes:
Bussell Highway links to Busselton, Western Australia to the west.
The Eelup Rotary, where Forrest Highway terminates in East Bunbury, was named by the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia as the worst regional intersection in Western Australia and has since undergone a $16m upgrade, which included eight sets of traffic lights (which were switched on in the early hours of Monday 21 May 2012) and extra lanes for each entrance. The government was criticised for breaking a 2008 election promise to build an overpass and underpass.