West End Heritage Trail
The 2 km West End Trail starts near the Geraldton Port Authority building, where much of the early development of Geraldton took place. These days the area is dominated by the CBH grain handling facilities at Geraldton Port, but it hasn’t always been that way. Take your time to read the interpretive panels along the route and go back in time to when things were very different.
Look out for the triangle trail markers.
About the Trail
The West End Heritage Trail takes you on a journey through the historical significance of this area. Now a popular café and bespoke shopping area, the West End was once the primary business district of Geraldton, hosting many businesses, banks, schools and homes.Learn about the life and times of the early town folk as you view buildings dating from colonial times, stroll along the Esplanade or checkout the displays at the Geraldton Visitor Centre. Enjoy the family friendly facilities of Stow Gardens and the Town Beach.
Prior to the arrival of the settlers, Yamaji People had lived in the area for many thousands of years. Seeking new pastoral lands and valuable minerals, settlers from the Swan River Colony expanded into the area in 1849. This and the recognition of the agricultural potential of the area now known as Greenough Flats, created the need for a local port and supply base. The town of Geraldton was proclaimed in 1850 – named in honour of the then Governor FitzGerald.
Early streets surveyed included Marine Terrace, Gregory and Francis Streets. Many of the buildings and houses constructed in local stone along these streets during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, still survive and are a reminder of another era.
An important landmark in the West End was the Esplanade Jetty, built in 1857, and Geraldton’s first main jetty. It was located at the end of Gregory Street and was also known as the Geraldton Old Sea Jetty, Old Jetty, Geraldton Pier, and Town Jetty throughout its existence. Goods were loaded and unloaded from the Jetty until 1893, when the Railway Jetty was built in deeper water to better cope with the arrivals of large ships. The Esplanade Jetty is now a breakwater, offering sprawling views of the city, Port, Champion Bay and Moresby Ranges from a 360 degree viewing platform – a great way to take in Geraldton!
World War II saw fear of Japanese invasion from the north sweep through Australia. Geraldton was a key training base for the troops recalled from the Middle East by Prime Minister Curtin to fight in New Guinea. At one time 40,000 military personnel were here alongside Geraldton’s 4,000 residents. Several military command posts were here in West End.
After World War II, dramatic change came over West End as the harbour and its infrastructure expanded and the fishing industry developed. Wheat from the vast tracts of the new wheatbelt hinterland was shipped through the port, along with iron ore and mineral sands.