The unusual Balancing Rock, Porongurup, is a 6m high granite boulder reportedly weighing around 186 tonnes yet rests on a base of just 1.21sqm.
OUR region began to form 100 million years ago when Antarctica broke away from Australia. Since then, new rivers have been draining into the Southern Ocean, creating a series of catchments with unique soils and landforms.
During the Eocene period, about 60 million years ago, the ocean covered much of the South Coast region leaving behind up to 50m of silty sediment. At this time most, if not all, of the current mountain peaks were isolated islands where unique flora evolved.
Today, it is the unique biological and landscape features and significant cultural and pioneering heritage, which make the South Coast region one of the most spectacular in Australia.
The first known people living on the South Coast were the Noongars (the collective name for the Aboriginal people of the southwest corner of WA). Their lands extended to the west of a line drawn from Jurien Bay on the west coast to Esperance on the south coast. Noongars were divided into 13 socio-linguistic groups, each with access to different ecological habitats in accordance with a long tradition of territorial occupation. Our region encompasses five of the 13 socio-linguistic groups - Kaneang, Minang, Koreng, Wudjari and Njunga.
European settlement of the region began on January 21, 1827 when Major Edmund Lockyer, named the military outpost on King George Sound, Frederickstown, in honour of Prince Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany.
The first governor and commander in-chief of Western Australia, Admiral Sir James Stirling visited Frederickstown in 1831 and renamed it Albany shortly afterwards.
The Old Farm, Strawberry Hill on Middleton Road was the first farm to be established in WA and the former home of Albany's first Government Resident, Sir Richard Spencer who emigrated with his wife and nine children from Lyme Regis, Dorset, England in 1833.
Although Strawberry Hill thrived, many other early farms failed due to mineral deficiencies in the soil and the presence of plants poisonous to stock. During the mid-19th century, Albany became a gateway to the Eastern Goldfields and for decades was Australia's only deep-water port, giving it a place of prominence on shipping services between Britain and its colonies.
However, the construction of Fremantle Harbour near Perth in 1893 saw Albany's importance as a port rapidly decline, so the town turned primarily to agriculture, timber and later whaling to support its economy. Albany also has an important role in the Anzac legend as it was where the fleet which comprised of approximately 20,000 Australians and 10,000 New Zealanders assembled and departed for Egypt on November 1, 1914.
reas around Esperance were opened-up for grazing in 1863 and the town's prominence as a commercial port rose during the Kalgoorlie gold rush of the 1890s. Farming increased in 1949 when soils deficient in phosphorus, copper and zinc were treated with superphosphate and trace elements and large tracts of land were cleared; Federal and State government's advocated the clearing of 1 million acres a year during the 1960s.
Around 70 per cent of the rural landscape is made up of farms, with a strong economic reliance on agricultural production and related service industries. In recent years, plantations and farm forestry are beginning to alter the landscape. In parts of the region, there is a trend to increase the diversity and resilience of land management systems both in agriculture and forestry.
Our region is renowned for its spectacular scenery, which incorporates tall forests in the west, all of southern WA's mountain peaks, biodiversity-rich waterways and wetlands and the outstanding southern coastline, with its many offshore islands, countless inlets and estuaries.
More than 20 per cent of the State's floristic diversity exists within the region, including numerous threatened flora and fauna species, while certain areas are recognised as being in the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots. Contained in the network of conservation reserves are the Fitzgerald River and Stirling Range national parks and the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.
Our shoreline and marine environments contain much of the region's ecologically intact ecosystems, while more than 70 per cent of the coastal vegetation corridor is currently under some form of conservation management.
There is the potential for significant nickel production at Ravensthorpe and haematite (iron) extraction at Wellstead, both in the east of the region. Other mines extract lithium and tantalum, which is found in the capacitors of many electrical devices. Basic raw materials including agricultural lime, gypsum, dolomite, silica sand, spongolite and gravel are significant resources and mined from many parts of the region.