|The beautiful white beach and jetty
Typical sleepy and attractive seaside resort town
Located 266 km north of Perth, Jurien Bay is a typical seaside resort town devoted to recreational fishing, tourism and professional cray fishing. It is situated at the southern end of Jurien Bay which stretches over 9 km from Island Point at the south to North Head. The waters of the bay are sheltered by a string of islands and reefs which lie just off the coast.
Built on the low lying sand ridges beside the beach, the settlement of Jurien Bay is full of cottages which have been constructed to supply the needs of weekend anglers.
Although the coastline around Jurien had been known to Europeans since the seventeenth century it was the French expedition led by Thomas Nicholas Baudin and Louis-Claude Desaules de Freycinet which mapped and named much of the area. In early 1803 two ships - Le Geographe and the Casuarina - sailed up the coast of Western Australia mapping and collecting samples of the local fauna and flora as they progressed. Freycinet, a brilliant cartographic surveyor, took soundings and surveyed Jurien Bay which he named after Charles Marie Jurien of the French Naval Administration. Similarly Mount Lesueur, east of Jurien Bay, was named after Charles Alexandre Lesueur, the ship's artist on Le Geographe and Mount Peron was named after the ship's naturalist and botanist, Francois Peron.
The coast was subsequently explored by Phillip Parker King, Lieutenant Arthur Preston and James Gregory but, in spite of their excellent maps, it continued to be a veritable graveyard of wrecks. There were three major wrecks off the coast in the 1890s alone and the boiler of the steamship Lubra, which sank in January 1898, can still be seen at low tide between Favourite and Osprey Islands.
First settlement of the Jurien area occurred in the mid 1850s when Walter Padbury, a self made millionaire, took land around Jurien Bay. It was Padbury's nephew, John Grigson, who managed the property and became the original pioneer in the area. The success of pastoralism led to the construction of a jetty in 1885 which allowed a more direct and speedy route to the markets for the wool and hides which were produced in the area. By the early 1900s the coastal waters were being fished for dhufish, snapper and groper. This led to the establishment of a temporary fishing village around the Jurien jetty. It wasn't until the 1950s that people began to build permanent residences in the area and even then their homes were corrugated iron shanties rather than proper dwellings. The region's poor and unreliable water supply ensured that the town did not grow.
It was around this time that anglers began to realise the potential of the crayfish but there was a problem. The crays were easy to catch but very difficult to preserve while shipping south to the markets in Perth. It became necessary for freezer boats to lie off the coast while the smaller
boats caught the crays. The townsite was surveyed in 1956 and officially named Jurien Bay on 21 December that year.
|The boats at the Jurien Marina
By the 1960s it was clear that the town's development was going to be inextricably tied to the crayfish industry. New jetties were erected, an airstrip was constructed so that produce could be flown south to Perth, and factories were built. The reputation of the Western Rock Lobster is such that the crayfishing is now a multi-million dollar industry sending shipments regularly to Japan and the USA.
Locals estimate that the population of the town nearly doubles in the crayfishing season. There is a regular community of 70 boats which increases to up to 150 boats in the season. The town's new marina (the only one between Perth and Geraldton) was completed in 1988.
Today Jurien's continued success depends on crayfishing and tourism. It is a typical, low-key, 'get away from it all' holiday town with a superb white sand beach and a small shopping centre. There is a considerable retirement element in the town now. It is soon to become the headquarters of a shire which will incorporate Leeman, Cervantes and Greenhead. The recent construction of a coast road means that residents of these smaller settlements can now travel to Jurien Bay to take advantage of the safe and all-weather fishing conditions which pertain.
Jurien Bay is recognised as the finest location on the central coast for catching snapper, dhufish (i.e. tandan) and baldchin groper. For this reason the WA Deep Sea Classic is held here every year.
Things to see:
This is a town where holidaymakers come to fish, swim and enjoy themselves away from the pressures of cities.
A booklet titled A Look at Jurien 1658-1989 is available and combines lots of interesting anecdotal history with information about all the services in the town and some mouth watering recipes for crayfish.