In four decades Bunbury has never lost its true value as a lifestyle destination but some things could have been done differently, according to past and present leaders.
This month marks 40 years since Bunbury was first recognised as a city and the milestone was celebrated through the launch of a unique exhibition this week.
Mayor Gary Brennan officially opened the exhibition at Bunbury Museum and Heritage Centre on Tuesday when he told a big crowd the city’s lifestyle was something to be proud of.
“The important thing about Bunbury, it’s never lost its true value as a lifestyle place,” Mr Brennan said.
“Once upon a time we were a port city, we are now a city with a port and we have such a diverse and rich and robust economy that keeps our population very happy, it entices a lot of visitors to our great city and we just love living here.
“The lifestyle is something that has never been compromised in all those 40 years that we’ve now been a city.”
Former Bunbury city councillors Tom Dillon and Paul Vukelic – who were both elected members when the city gained its status in 1979 – were at Tuesday’s launch.
Mr Dillon said the feeling among the community four decades ago was exciting and the celebrations were “huge”.
He also said while Bunbury remained his home there were definitely some things he believed could have been done differently.
“I saw a lot of things happen – I saw Robertson Drive built, I saw the South West Sports Centre built,” Mr Dillon said. “Unfortunately I saw the railway removed which in hindsight, we all make decisions and sometimes we make mistakes.
“If I was to see something happen today, I would love to see the railway brought back into the peripheral of the CBD.”
He said the 1979 celebrations put Bunbury on the international map.
“I remember it well … it was well promoted and it coincided with the 150th anniversary of WA,” he said.
“The tent on Hands Oval was enormous … and I was running a transport and trucking company here at the time and we carted all the chairs down from Perth –it was huge, Bunbury was on the international and the national map.”
Mr Vukelic said he was proud of the city and he remembered a “strong community” that embraced the status change 40 years ago.
“Bunbury’s been a real pleasure for me and being on council was part of that,” Mr Vukelic said.
Bunbury was the first city in the South West, a status reached when the population forged past 20,000.
Mr Brennan said the most significant changes he had noticed was construction of Bunbury Hospital and South West Sports Centre, Marlston Hill’s development and the city’s transformation continued.
“When you think back, the transformation of Bunbury has been quite significant,” he said.
“Look at Koombana Bay, the Transforming Bunbury’s Waterfront project, the buildings going up, again, by Bunbury people investing in our city and having the confidence in our city’s future.
“It’s always good to reflect as you plan for the future, you must always continue to forge ahead but you never forget your roots and where you came from and that’s what makes Bunbury such a special place.”
The exhibition runs until November 9 and also includes displays at Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, Bunbury Visitor Centre, the sports centre, council administration building and Bunbury Public Library.