Smiths Beach, Cape Naturaliste, South West, Western Australia, 1801
Cape Naturaliste is named after one of the ships the French explorer Nicholas Baudin sailed to explore the Australian coastline at the same time as Matthew Flinders was making his historic circumnavigation of Australia 200 years ago.
Baudin anchored in Geographe Bay, named after the second ship in the exploration party, on May 30, 1801. Many of the capes and coastal features of the Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin region bear French names care of Baudin's explorations.
The Dutch named Cape Leeuwin in 1622.
Matthew Flinders in the Investigator sighted Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia, six months later on 6 December 1801 and sailed east along the southern coast.
This left the coast north to Cape Naturaliste unexplored by the English until later in 1802 or early 1803 when Flinders sailed down from the north on his anti-clockwise circumnavigation of the continent.
Previously, in March 1802, Flinders met the French explorer Nicholas Baudin at the appropriately named Encounter Bay in South Australia. England and France were at war at the time.
The west facing coastline in the Cape Naturaliste area has remained ruggedly beautiful, mostly in its natural state, for the interim two centuries.
A sudden boom in coastal land development applications for the area occurred in the 1980's and 1990's.
Smiths Beach is included in this coastal land craving as the baby boom generation look toward a quiet seaside retirement.
However, persistent lobbying and community common sense has recognised the value of the natural beauty of the south west coast.
Smiths Beach lies within one of the beautiful bays sailed past by Flinders and Baudin.
Plans for a large, visually prominent resort village directly on the coast at Smiths Beach have been greatly modified from an original massive development plan.
Our community's hope is that future sea and land travellers will navigate the coast as did Flinders and Baudin, by nature's landmarks not manmade eyesores.
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