Early Settlers





Australind is located 12 km north of Western Australia's second city, Bunbury and 165 km south of the State Capital of Perth and is part of one of the fastest growing areas in Australia. Although now effectively a suburb of the ever-expanding Bunbury, Australind was the site of an unusual and ambitious land scheme during the 1840s.

In 1840-41, only a little over a decade after the establishment of the Swan River colony (now called Perth), the newly formed Western Australian Land Company purchased land in the area and surveyed a town site which they named as a combination of Australia and India. There was already a horse breeding station in the area and it was hoped that the horse trade would be the beginning of a continuing trade relationship between Australind and India.

Marshall Waller Clifton

The first settlers arrived in 1841 and by the following year over 440 immigrants had settled in the area Marshall Waller Clifton (pictured left) was appointed Chief Commissioner. The plan was to divide a huge land grant of over 40,000 hectares into small farming lots of 40 hectares and establish an English style village in the centre of this project. The philosophy behind the plan was similar to that of Edward Gibbon Wakefield who had developed the notion of settlements for ordinary citizens to ease the burden of poverty which characterised so much of English society at this time. In the case of Western Australia the settlement had the added bonus of providing the infant colony with a much needed labour force.

The settlement was short-lived and had been abandoned by 1843. The problems (they are the problems of the whole of the west coast) were a combination of poor sandy soils, no water in summer and too much rain in winter. Clifton's wife (Elinor nee Bell) has left a graphic description of what the first winter in Australind was like:

"Rain falling in torrents all the evening; our tent in a sad state of wet; thunder and lightning soon came on; rain such as no one can imagine ... No future settlers can suffer what we do; for when others come they will find things made for them and our experience available. Friends in England should be made acquainted with the dangers of this Australian coast in this season. A fatal grievance prevails on the point and I feel horrified to think of people blindly coming out at any time of year, to be exposed to such awful weather as this."

Her description of the weather was obviously shared by other members of the colony because it was abandoned soon afterwards.

Koombana Bay
A view of Koombana Bay on Port Leschenault, Australind
by Thomas Colman Dibdin, 1810-1893
Picture from the National Library of Australia

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