Coordinates: 34°30′0″S 118°36′0″E
Wellstead is a small town in the Shire of Jerramungup, 476km south-east of Perth and 100km north-east of Albany on the South Coast Highway. The 2006 census recorded its population as 296. Wellstead is just 19km from the picturesque Cape Riche, while the town’s immediate landscape is dominated by the Stirling Range. The district boasts diverse native flora which adds splashes of colour to the roadside throughout much of the year.
The town’s name commemorates the Wellstead family who settled in the area in 1860 and held grazing land between Cape Riche and Bremer Bay. Edward John Eyre passed through the district when he was traversing the country from South Australia to Albany in 1841. A cairn which marks his route can be seen at the junction of Sandalwood and Mettler’s Lake roads.
Initially, Wellstead’s hinterland was considered too poor to sustain agriculture, but this changed in the early 1960s, when it was discovered the application of trace elements to the soil produced good land for cereal cropping. As land became available, people from across Australia applied for conditional purchase blocks which were managed by the WA Land Board. These newcomers established a school, library, tennis courts, community hall and a church, with the townsite being gazetted in 1965 shortly after establishing a telephone exchange.
The district’s coastline is well-known for whale watching and it is common to view whales from the beaches at Cape Riche Caravan Park and Boat Harbour Camping Reserve. Wellstead’s boat harbour is located 17km east of the townsite and provides a beautiful backdrop for walking, swimming, fishing and diving. Another place to stop is the Cape Riche Camp Site, situated among eucalyptus trees off Sandalwood Road, an 18km unsealed track, from the South Coast Highway.
The site has toilet and shower facilities and is suitable for caravans and tents. Cost is $9 per person per night. Contained fires are permitted. It also has an outdoor kitchen with three barbecues and a boat ramp.