The best kept secrets of the South West

We’ve rounded up some of our most quirky and impressive secrets and collections around the South West region of Western Australia.
Message in a bottle

Put these places on your South West road trip itinerary to learn something new about the region and discover the hidden secrets just waiting to be found.

An International Clown Convention in Denmark

Can you believe there was a clown convention in Denmark? No joke! In the 1970’s, the conservative farming community was interrupted with the arrival of hippies who brought new ideas and a new lifestyle to the coast. In 1982, an International Clown Convention took over the streets with giant parades and clown shenanigans, turning Denmark into ‘Clown Town’. This was the world’s first international convention and saw visitors gathering from all around the world.

You can learn all about the convention and see clown posters and more relics at the Denmark Historical Society. Once a place where prisoners were locked up, this old police station is now the home of the historical society which works hard to unlock the history of this picturesque town.

Poster for the Denmark Clowns Convention 1992

A message in a bottle in Margaret River

In 1924, two young men from England who were 17 and 24 years of age assembled one of the standard kit houses which were part of the Group Settlement Scheme. They left a message in a bottle hidden in the wall that was addressed “To the Finder. Stop, Look, Listen.” The bottle was discovered 90 years later and revealed the goal of the young men was to own a red Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, pictured with their handwritten note to the finder.

The note and the picture are now on display in the old Group Settlement at the Margaret River Historical Society. Made up of a cluster of small buildings, it’s truly like stepping back in time to the 1920s.

The note and the picture of a red Rolls Royce silver ghost automobile

Betty Brown’s role in agriculture and farming

Be captivated by the stories of women like Betty Brown, who made a significant impact to farming in the Shire of West Arthur. Betty’s family moved to the region 1867 to establish a farm, where Betty began her love for farming and continued the family’s farming tradition.

In 2020 the Betty Brown Historical Centre was established as a result of a generous donation by Betty herself and highlights the considerable and changing roles of women in farming and rural areas.

room with a fireplace and various collection displays

A secret society…

On the list of historic buildings, many towns will have the local Masonic Lodge. The Freemasons were exclusively male, non-Catholic, and often with significant influence on the happenings of the town. The Freemasons of Boyup Brook wanted their building to be used by the community after a decline in numbers over the years, and in 1994 offered it to the historical society to create a museum. The Temple of the Lodge has been kept intact for visitors to see, along with many other items of ceremonial significance.

Get a fascinating insight into the secret societies of the past at the Boyup Brook Museum, and so much more. There are a number of buildings which house a wide range of items from the town’s history.

Room with a pattered floor and chairs against the far wall

Learn about the power of collaboration

Interpreting the shared history of Kojonup, the Kodja Place shows what is possible when a community works together. The centre unpacks ‘multi-cultural points of view about the land, life and history’ in the Kojonup area. Outside, the site includes the rose maze and three stories from Noongar, English and Italian women: Yoondi, Elizabeth and Maria. Inside you can view items and read stories from many of Kojonup’s citizens, Noongars and Non-Indigenous alike. Walk through a replica of the Reserve house, similar to those found on the local Aboriginal Reserve. The site also includes a gift shop, café and visitor centre to find out more information about the region.

A collection of historic wedding gowns

Everybody loves a wedding! So, when we discovered this collection of unique historic textiles, we we’re intrigued! The collection of bridal dresses and historic clothes are house in a building behind the Wesley Church and the Church Hall in Albany, where people have been getting married since 1863. The fashion for wearing a white wedding dress began after Queen Victoria wore a white dress at her wedding to Albert in 1840. But for the fashion of England felt far away, expensive, and impractical. The brides would wear their ‘best dress’ rather than a one-off wedding dress.

The Wesley Wedding Gown Collection in Albany showcases dresses over the years, how they’ve changed and been influenced by royal weddings and changing fashions.

a mannequin wearing a wedding dress and veil with other wedding dresses hanging in the background.

Historical Sites and Heritage Locations
South West