In the early 1600s, Dutch seafarer François Thijssen set sail from the Cape of Good Hope on his vessel The Golden Seahorse for what is now Jakarta, Indonesia. He missed, by quite a long way: more than 3000 kilometres. On the 26th of January 1627, he came across Australia somewhere near Cape Leeuwin. His charts for the southern coast of what he called ‘New Holland’ show a bay and islands that were most probably Albany. It wasn’t until 162 years later, though, that Captain George Vancouver, aboard the Discovery, sailed past Michaelmas and Breaksea Islands and named King George the Third’s Sound. Vancouver stayed 15 days, explored inland, made contact with the Minang Noongars, and planted watercress, vines, almonds, oranges, lemons and pumpkins.
Several seafarers dropped anchor in this harbor over the next quarter century, and their names ring through the years every time a local landmark is mentioned: Bruni d’Entrecasteaux (aboard L’Esperance), Matthew Flinders, Nicolas Baudin and Phillip Parker King. However, it wasn’t until 1826 that the British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, under growing concern that the area might be annexed by France, instructed the Governor of New South Wales to establish a suitable settlement in King George Sound. Major Edmund Lockyer, aboard the brig Amity, with twenty soldiers, twenty-six convicts and six months’ provisions, arrived on Christmas Day in 1826. They planted the Union Jack, fired their muskets in the air and claimed the whole of New Holland for Britain.