The morning light, as you drive towards Bremer Bay from Katanning and skirt the north-eastern edge of the Stirling Ranges, tints even the barest stubble gold; paints even the earliest shoots after the rains bright green; reflects on the trunks of the salmon gums with a coppery pink glow that’s almost orange; and all this against the blue-grey shadowy backdrop of the ancient mountain range.
Even on a clear day, Koi Kyennu-ruff (‘mist moving among mountains’) will have the wisps of clouds around their peaks that the Goreng Noongars of the plains believed were a sign of the ancient spirits keeping watch. It’s a scene that could have been painted by Monet or Van Goh, and that was rendered lovingly on the many canvases of artist Bella Kelly. Kelly, and the many local artists she influenced, tended to paint the view of the ranges framed by two white gums or salmon gums, and as you roll through Gnowangerup and Borden on your way down, you’ll see why: that’s the view you’ll most often get.
Our trail takes us from the southern Wheatbelt, down onto the Esperance plain, and to the rugged southern coast. This is still Goreng Noongar country, and Bremer Bay is the place where the mob from Ongerup and Borden would travel down to camp, spear salmon in the surf, and meet with the Wudjari people from the east. It’s also the place where some of the first settlers came to establish homesteads in the mid-1800s.
You’ll notice one of these early homesteads, Mongup, as Borden-Bremer Bay Road crosses the Bremer River. George Moir purchased this property from his uncle George Cheyne in 1858.