Historical Timeline

Early mapping

Captain François Thijssen, of the Dutch ship ‘Gulden Zeepaert’ (Golden Seahorse) and Peter Nuyts, a Dutch East Indies (VOC) merchant and Councillor of the Indies, charted 1800 km of coastline between Cape Leeuwin and Nuyts Archipelago. They named the area ‘Nuyts Land’. Until now, no-one had any knowledge of the south coast. The newly discovered coast is shown by Hessel Gerritsz as contiguous to the section discovered by the Leeuwin, the most easterly point of which was at Point D’Entrecasteaux or Point Nuyts between longitude 116° and 1178 E. The accurate representation of the Recherche Archipelago, the Great Australian Bight and the Nuyts Archipelago indicate the ship must have sailed within sight of the coast.

Esperance naming

In 1792, Frenchman Joseph-Antoine Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, in charge of the ‘Recherche’ and ‘Esperance’(under Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec), reached Cape Leeuwin on 5 December and explored eastward along the southern coast, anchored in Esperance Bay on 9 December.

While sheltering from weather off Observatory Island, the area was named Port Esperance (from d'Entrecasteaux’s ship), the name now given to the township and port. Recherche Archipelago, also known as the Bay of Isles is a group of 105 islands.


On 29 September 1791, Commander George Vancouver, RN, captaining the Sloop 'Discovery', visited and named King George Sound and claimed "possession of the country" (referring to what is now South West of Western Australia), for England.

Lucky Bay

British navigator Matthew Flinders in the 'Investigator' charted the coast, mapping and naming Lucky Bay and inland peaks, e.g. The Barrens.

Thistle Cove

Thistle Cove was named by John Thistle who was sent to check the bay for anchorage and also found fresh water. Thistle later drowned along with 7 other members of Flinders’ party on 22 February 1802 in Spencers Gulf, South Australia.


Belinda, A coastal brig, built in 1819 at Yarmouth, was in the Recherche Archipelago coming from Sydney to undertake sealing to supply the lucrative trade in NSW, with a crew of 26. She was wrecked at Middle Island (Goose Island Bay) in the Recherche Archipelago on 18th July. The crew got ashore safely, and on 8th December were picked up by the brig Nereus, also sealing along the south coast, and taken to Sydney.

The wreck was discovered in 1989 by the Western Australian Maritime Museum , lying at the eastern end of the sandy beach on the north side of Middle Island, 30m from the shore

King Georges Sound Settlement

King George's Sound military settlement was established by Commandant Edmund Lockyer in 1927, as ships of many nations frequented the coast, including whalers and sealers. Britain feared annexation, especially by the French. Lockyer named the new town Fredericks Town which was renamed Albany in 1832

Swan River Colony

On 2nd May 1829 Captain Charles Fremantle arriving at Cockburn Sound in the frigate 'Challenger', formally took possession of the Western Coast of New Holland for the King and hoisted the Union Jack on the 'south head of the River' [Swan River]. Captain Fremantle later became Admiral Sir Charles Fremantle. The ‘Challenger’ was wrecked on the west coast of Chile in 1835.

Wylie Bay

Wylie Bay was named by Eyre to honour his guide

Rossiter Bay

Nullabor explorer Edward John Eyre, with aboriginal guide Wylie, came overland from Adelaide. They were at the point of death from thirst and starvation, and were saved by Englishman Captain Thomas Rossiter of the French whaler 'Mississippi'. They were able to complete the remaining 500km of their trek to Albany. On rowing them ashore Rossiter gave Eyre and Wylie some letters to post in Albany and six bottles of cognac

Eyre named the site of this rescue Rossiter Bay.

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