Coordinates: 34°23′38″S 119°22′34″E
Mean maximum temperature: 20.7C (69F)
Mean minimum temperature: 9.5C (49F)
Annual Rainfall: 606.5mm (23.9inches)
Bremer Bay is a small coastal town (population approx. 270) 516km south of Perth and 189km north-east of Albany located at the mouth of the Bremer River, next to Wellstead Estuary, in the Shire of Jerramungup.
The bay was given its name in 1848 by inaugural Western Australian Surveyor General, John Septimus Roe. Roe named the bay in honour of James John Gordon Bremer, the captain he served under on HMS Tamar between 1824 and 1827. The town was originally gazetted as Wellstead in 1951, but locals petitioned to have it changed to Bremer Bay. It was finally gazetted in 1962 after the Minister for Lands approved the new name.
The first known European to explore the area was Matthew Flinders who sailed the HMS Investigator along the coast in 1802. By the 1820s whalers and sealers hunting in the Southern Ocean used the bay as a stopover. In 1841, Scottish explorer Edward John Eyre and his Aboriginal companion Wylie passed through the area during their epic journey across the Nullarbor Plain.
The first European settler to the area was John Wellstead, who originated from the English county of Sussex. Wellstead came to Western Australia as a private in the 51st Regiment via Hobart and disembarked in Fremantle. He was taken to York, before being stationed at Kojonup where he looked for land. He then moved on to Albany, where he ran the first mail service from Albany to Perth.
It was on one of these trips that he met his future wife Mary Ann (nee Crawford). They were the first couple to be married at the newly consecrated St John’s Church in Albany, which Wellstead helped build. A further search for good, open-grazing country with adequate water took Wellstead to the Bremer Bay area. He was so impressed, he went back with stock in 1849 and built a two-storey stone homestead at Peppermint Grove near Tooleburrup Hill, about 7km south of Bremer Bay. The Wellstead family’s former residence and its outbuildings is now the site of Wellstead Museum.
The Wellstead’s farming practices relied heavily on the regeneration of the bush, which was grazed and then burnt to promote natural regeneration for stock to feed on. The Wellstead’s also had homesteads at Quallup, Fitzgerald and Quallinup and grazed their sheep between the three locations. In 1872 a shearing shed was built at Peppermint Grove and sheep were shawn using blades. In 1882, 10,000 sheep were shawn for 33 bales of wool. Apart from occasional trading with schooners which frequented the coastal bays, the family were almost self-sufficient.
The township which eventually became Bremer Bay came into existence with the establishment of a telegraph station in 1876. The first operator was John Wellstead’s daughter Mary, who was possibly the first female telegraphist in Australia.
Today, Bremer Bay’s focal point is the Fisheries Beach Marina, which is used by the fishing industry and offers excellent facilities for recreational boat launching. The bay’s expanse of crystal clear water and its seemingly endless stretch of striking white sand is a great place to relax. The area is also a popular resort for water-skiing and four-wheel-drive access is available to many of the magnificent surrounding beaches.
Southern right whales calves can be spotted in the calm waters of the numerous sheltered bays from July to November - Point Ann provides a superb whale-watching platform. Lying between Bremer Bay and nearby Hopetoun is the Fitzgerald River National Park, renowned as one of the most diverse botanical regions in the world. This vast, ﬂora-rich area is one of only two national parks in Western Australia to be gazetted by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.
For further information phone the Shire of Jerramungup on (08) 9835 1022 - www.jerramungup.wa.gov.au.