Geraldton is a city and port in Western Australia located 424 kilometres north of Perth in the Mid West region. Geraldton has an estimated population at June 2010 of 36,958. Today, the city is an important centre for mining, fishing, wheat, sheep and tourism.
The history of Geraldton began some 40,000 years ago when various aboriginal tribes lived in the area. Geraldton is located on Champion Bay, 424km north of Perth, Western Australia and has become a popular seaside resort town for the wheat farmers of the Central-West region.
Geraldton is located on Champion Bay, 424km north of Perth, Western Australia and has become a popular seaside resort town for the wheat farmers of the Central-West region. For over 40,000 years the traditional owners of the land were Aboriginals belonging to several tribes.
Champion Bay was first noted by Commander Dring in January 1840 and it was subsequently named by the Royal Navy hydrographic surveyor JL Stokes after Dring’s colonial schooner, Champion. In 1839, George Grey, became the first recorded European to explore the region.
Grey, returning back, on foot, to Fremantle (from Shark Bay), after a disastrous expedition to the North-West Cape of Western Australia, made note of the fertile land. Following the discovery of lead and copper along the Murchinson River, surveyor Augustus Gregory was instructed to find an appropriate town site.
By 1851 the town site of Geraldton was declared. The town was originally called Gerald’s Town in honour of the Governor Charles Fitzgerald (1848-55) but was later shortened to Geraldton.
Though many European maritime explorers encountered or were even wrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos islands 60 kilometres west of Geraldton during the 17th and 18th centuries, there is no evidence that any made landfall near the site of the current town. The first European to explore the area was George Grey in 1839.
Geraldton is also home to a horse racing industry, which since 1887 hosts the annual Geraldton Gold Cup.
The 2007 Geraldton Gold Cup was won by 8-year-old TapDog. The race was historically significant. TapDog became the first horse to win the race three times, his trainer Clive Lauritsen became the first trainer to win the race 6 times, Roy McKay became the first jockey to win the race three times, and owners Peter Day, Jeannette Day, and Hans Hoiskar equalled the most wins by an owner in three. The race also passed the million dollar mark for the first time in tote turnover.
Looking For The Perfect Town
On the 21 November, 1849, a flagstaff was erected and the Union Jack flag hoisted up the mast, as a symbolic claim over the district. There had been no consultation between the Europeans and the traditional Aboriginal land owners. A week later a barracks was erected and Lieutenant Elliot (military leader of the 99th Regiment) was appointed magistrate in preparation for clashes between Europeans and Aborigines.
On the 3rd of June 1851, the town site of Geraldton was declared and the first sale of Geraldton lots were sold by public auction in Perth. Geraldton was originally called Gerald’s Town after Governor Charles Fitzgerald (1848-55) but later shortened to Geraldton.
Town Becomes a City
Farmers began to settle in the area in the late 1850’s, around the same time as the commencement of the construction of port facilities at Champion Bay. In 1871, Geraldton was officially proclaimed a town. In 1879, the Western Australian Government began the construction of the first government railway in the State, which carried lead ore from Northampton to the port (55km).
The port became a vital part of Geraldton’s economy and became one of the State’s major seaports. By the early 1900’s the fishing industry in Geraldton was established, attracting Norwegians, Danes, Swedes and later Italians. In 1988 the town of Geraldton was officially declared a city.
In 2003, the City of Geraldton purchased the confiscated illegal fishing ship, South Tomi , for a tourism project.
The ship was stripped and then sunk approximately 3 nautical miles off the coast of Geraldton, near Bluff Point, creating an artificial reef for divers. Today the port city is the centre of fishing, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and tourism industries of the Mid-West region of the State. Geraldton is also known as the” Lobster Capital of the World”.
Champion Bay was first noted by Commander Dring in January 1840 and it was subsequently named by the Royal Navy hydrographic surveyor JL Stokes after Dring’s colonial schooner, Champion. In 1839, George Grey, became the first recorded European to explore the region. Grey, returning back, on foot, to Fremantle (from Shark Bay), after a disastrous expedition to the North-West Cape of Western Australia, made note of the fertile land. This stimulated other Swan River colonists to make brief journeys by ship to the area but many viewed the land as too dry.
The Swan River Colony, by this time, was struggling to find suitable land for new settlers. All the fertile land in the Avon Valley was already taken up and the colony’s economy was stagnant.
As a result, in 1846, two exploration parties were sent out, one led by John Septimus Roe to the south-east of Perth and the other led by explorer and surveyor, Augustus Gregory (and his brother) to the north of Perth. Gregory returned with glowing reports of good pastoral land and coal deposits in the mid-west coastal region.
The discovery of a coal seam in the Irwin River, lead and copper in the Murchinson River and pastoral opportunities in the hinterland created a boom in the area. In 1848 Governor Fitzgerald travelled to the Murchinson River to inspect the mineral deposits for himself. He got a little more than he bargained for on the journey when he was speared in the leg by local Aboriginals, at what is know known as Elephant Hill.
Regardless of the attack, ore exports from the Murchinson River mines began in 1849 from Champion Bay and soon after Gregory was instructed to survey a town site.
Geraldton has a public bus service run by TransGeraldton and is connected to Perth with coach services N1, N2 and N3 provided by Transwa. QantasLink and Skywest Airlines provide services from Geraldton Airport; the airport is also used for general aviation.
Geraldton lies in the transition stages between a Mediterranean and a semi-arid climate. In the winter, the temperature is rather mild, averaging around 20 °C (68 °F), with most of the yearly rainfall falling in this period. This is due to cold fronts from Antarctica moving up and hitting the coast. In the summer months, Geraldton averages 31–32 °C (88–90 °F), with some days over 40 °C (104 °F).
High pressure in the Great Australia Bight sends warm easterly winds to Geraldton and a west-coast trough is formed. This is the primary reason for the hot weather that is often experienced. It generally lasts for a few days as the trough moves inland and the sea breeze cools things down.
The summer temperatures in the coastal suburbs of Geraldton (Tarcoola, Bluff Point, Seacrest) is generally a couple of degrees cooler than in the inland suburbs (such as Strathalbyn, Woorree and Deepdale).