Popular Museums in the South West Region

Aboriginal ShieldsWestern Australia’s human history goes back for thousands of years, with estimates ranging from 40,000 to 60,000 years. No matter where you venture throughout the South West, you will see signs of our Indigenous Australian heritage, culture, and artwork. This ancient population carved out their lands, hunted in the forests, fished in their amazing waters, worshiped their gods, and used Mother Nature’s resources to create artwork and weave tapestries with handmade techniques that continue to be used today by their modern era descendants.

Much of the Margaret River modern culture, and the development of our South West, began over 200 years ago in settlements such as Busselton.

All of these historic treasures are on display in our local museums. Pack your interest, bring a big dose of curiosity, and rediscover our wonderful past.


Busselton Museum

The significant value of this museum is its displays and documentation of one of the oldest colonial settlements in Western Australia. The exhibits cover the time period from 1850 to 1940. You get to witness the reenactment of what daily life was like from the start of the Busselton settlement through to the evolution of social, commercial, and maritime changes created by ‘modern’ appliances and health practices. You’ll learn about how difference civil rules and regulations impacted family life, how the introduction of sewing machines, clocks, and automotive transportation enabled the settlers to upgrade their style of living and to venture outside of the settlement to meet and mingle with neighboring communities.

In total, there are ten separate rooms in the museum, with each room depicting a different time period. This is an ideal way to see how our European founding fathers meshed with the native Australians from their early years up to the time of World War II. You see how the fashions, for both men and women, changed during the first 90 years, how food was harvested, stored, and prepared, how household furniture and kitchen utensils were handmade, and what the educational system was like. The museum offers walking tours of two cemeteries where you’ll see real burial sites and markers from Busselton’s first colonists. The valuable information about our history has already been recorded, all it needs is to be shared with today’s visitors.

The museum is open Wednesdays through Mondays from 10AM to 4PM. It is closed on Tuesdays, Christmas, Boxing Day, and Good Friday. The entrance fees are $8 for adults, and $3 for children ages 5 to 16.

For additional information, you can call the museum on (08) 9754 2166, or visit their website at https://busseltonmuseum.org.au/.


Bellview Shell Collection (Witchcliffe)

If you are like most of the visitors to Margaret River, you thoroughly enjoy going to the beaches, or swimming in the oceans or waterways, or being out on the water fishing or whale watching. One of the benefits of having so many beaches and shorelines is the opportunity for you to find and collect beautiful, odd shaped, small and large seashells and corals. Of course, you may only find a few to take home as souvenirs, and that means that you’ll miss the chance to see some of the most elaborate pieces gathered from all over the world.

But, just a half hour’s distance from Forest Rise is one of the largest private shell collections anywhere on the globe that is available for public viewing. When it comes to rare and exquisite shells and coral specimens, the Bellview Collection is where they are all on display, in one location. There are more than 30,000 pieces that will amaze and delight shell lovers of all ages. Some of this excellent pieces are available for purchase. This private museum is open to visitors Fridays through Wednesdays from 9AM to 5 PM. The museum is closed on Thursdays and during the month of August. There is an entrance fee of $8 for adults and $4 for children.

For more information, you can call the museum on (08) 9757 6342.


Berndt Museum of Anthropology (Perth)

Although this museum is not in the South West, we encourage you to visit if you’re travelling through Perth.

This is the only museum in the world where you can emerge yourself in the cultural and artist world of historical Indigenous Australian tribal life. There are more than 10,000 artifacts and over 35,000 photographs taken during anthropological explorations. The museum also houses a large display of ancient and contemporary Aboriginal cultural materials from various regions that include the South West and the Western Desert.

A trip to the anthropology museum is easily a once in a lifetime opportunity for visitors in this area. Because it requires several hours to get to the museum, it makes an excellent all day outing. You can enjoy local restaurants while you are on the road, or we will be delighted to prepare a picnic hamper for your excursion.

The museum is located on the University of Western Australia, Crawley Campus, in the Dr. Harold Schenberg Art Centre within the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, and it is open to visitors from 11AM to 5PM, Tuesday through Saturday. You need to use the Fairway Entrance Number 1 and the Carpark Number 20. For additional information you can contact the university at (08) 6488 6000, or visit their website at http://www.web.uwa.edu.au/contact.