In 2009 Busselton celebrated the 175th Anniversary since the arrival of European settlers to the area of The Vasse. A significant commemorative project was undertaken by the City of Busselton to celebrate this milestone, the Settlement Art Project. Over 10-years, six life-sized bronze sculptures were created by Fremantle artist, Greg James. They represent the people and industries that contributed to the town's development.
The historic project effectively captures the very essence of Busselton’s challenging early history. The community is proud that the settler’s efforts created the basis for one of the Colony’s most successful early settlements outside of Perth.
American Whalers were visitors to Geographe Bay from the earliest settlement days. Captain’s wives often were rested here, to share tales of sea life, bear children, and begin to raise them. They gave lessons in life and learning to a wide community.
The whalers were among the first non-Aboriginal visitors to hunt along the Geographe Bay coastline. After European settlement, Captains often had their wives accompany them on the journey. The wives, left in a new and harsh environment, would have watched as their husbands sailed away, wondering when they might return.
This sculpture testifies to the triumphs of these families, especially the wives of these adventurers. In a transient life the whaler’s wives left a legacy of life and learning, long remembered.
The timber industry grew to be the most important source of income for the Busselton settlement. It relied heavily on the strength and stamina of the timber workers. Prior to the establishment of mills, the timber was hand pit-sawn or hewn into squared logs with broad axes and adze.
Life was difficult for these men who worked long hours under very trying conditions. The pit sawyers were a hardy breed, who earned themselves a place amongst the forgotten pioneers of the timber industry. The man in the pit was caked in sawdust, tormented by flies and often knelt in all day in water.
The timber was shipped as far as the United Kingdom and United States as well as used in the growing town's own government buildings.
The history of Busselton is cosmopolitan with a Spanish flavour thrown in for good measure. Robust Spanish pioneers started arriving in the area in 1898 with families working very hard to make ends meet in agricultural pursuits. Families worked together to clear the land and these immigrants contributed to the region with their hard working ethic and valuable wine making skills.
This sculpture celebrates the pioneering women who played a critical, though perhaps understated role in the settlement. Apart from the traditional roles of mother, carer and companion, they were business partners and actively involved in community matters.
Early exchanges of items with the American whalers and other ships that visited the port were potatoes, lemons, butter, cheese, meat, vegetables and firewood for oil, molasses, clothing, tobacco, spirits, soap, jewellery, saddlery, crockery and tinware.
""Felicity"" represents the hardworking pioneering women from the time of the European settlers and group settlers.
Following a period of consultation with the local Aboriginal community, Gaywal was their unanimous choice of subject for the fifth statue. An Aboriginal Elder at the time of settlement, Gaywal symbolises strength and tradition.
John Garrett Bussell
This sculpture of John Garrett Bussell represents the four pioneer families of Busselton as part of the 175th anniversary of the settlement of Busselton. These hardworking people paved the way for future generations and include the Chapman, Layman and Dawson families.
John Garrett Bussell landed in Western Australia, together with a number of pioneer families in the 1830’s having sailed from England on the Warrior late in 1829. A sub-colony was formed by the governor Sir James Stirling on the shores of cape Leeuwin in 1830, and Augusta was so named.