King George Sound

King George Sound

King George Sound is the name of a sound on the south coast of Western Australia. Located at coord|35|02|S|117|56|E,cite web | title = King George Sound | url = | work = [ Gazetteer of Australia] | accessdate = 2007-02-18 | publisher = Geoscience Australia] it is the site of the city of Albany.

The sound covers an area of convert|110|km2|sqmi|0 and varies in depth from m to ft|10|abbr=yes|precision=0 to m to ft|35|abbr=yes|precision=0. [cite web|url=|title=Albany Waterways Resource Book: King George Sound|year=2000|accessdate=2008-04-19] The sound is bordered by the mainland to the north, by Vancouver Peninsula on the west, and by Bald Head and Flinders Peninsula to the south. Although the sound is open water to the east, the waters are partially protected by Breaksea Island and Michaelmas Island. There are two harbours located within the sound, Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour, each receive excellent protection from winds and heavy seas. Princess Royal Harbour was Western Australia's only deep-water port for around 70 years until Fremantle Harbour, south of Perth was opened.


King George Sound was first discovered in 1791 by the English explorer George Vancouver, Vancouver named it after the reigning monarch, King George III [cite web|url=|title=Australias Southwest - Explorers and Settlement of Albany|year=2005|accessdate=2008-04-20] .

The next Europeans to visit the Sound were whalers Capt. Dennis of "The Kingston", and Capt. Dickson aboard "The Elligood" who caught three whales in August 1800. This expedition left an inscribed piece of metal behind to be found by Flinders crew in the following year. [cite web|url=|title=Australia on the map - The AOTM Landings List|year=2005|accessdate=2008-04-20] [cite web|url=|title=To King George the Third Sound for Whales|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-20]

Matthew Flinders anchored in the Sound for about a month in 1801, during this time Brown (ship's botanist) and Good (ship's gardener) collected samples of over 500 plant species. [cite web|url=|title=FOCUS - Library Treasures|year=2005|accessdate=2008-04-20]

Nicholas Baudin arrived in the sound in February 1803 aboard "Le Geographe" to rendezvous with Louis de Freycinet aboard the "Casuarina" before doing further exploration of the West Australian coastline. [cite web|url=|title=Encounter 1802-2002 Baudins Voyage|year=2002|accessdate=2008-04-20] During the course of their stay the ship's naturalist, Francoise Peron, collected 1060 new species of shellfish and a large number of starfish from the sound. [cite web|url=|title=ABC - The Naturalists|year=2008|accessdate=2008-04-20]

Phillip Parker King visited the Sound in 1818 aboard the cutter "Mermaid" [cite web|url=|title=175th Anniversary of WA - Albany|year=2004|accessdate=2008-04-23] while en route to conduct a nautical survey of the North West Cape [cite web|url=|title=Australian Dictionary of on-line Biographies|year=2006|accessdate=2008-04-24] , and Frenchman Dumont d'Urville visited it in 1826 aboard the "Astrolabe".

On December 25 1826, the British ship "Amity", under the command of Major Edmund Lockyer, arrived at King George Sound to establish a military outpost.cite book | author = Appleyard, R. T. and Toby Manford | year = 1979 | title = The Beginning: European Discovery and Early Settlement of Swan River Western Australia | location = Nedlands, Western Australia | publisher = University of Western Australia Press | id=ISBN 0855641460] Lockyer named his settlement "Fredrickstown", but this name never gained wide acceptance.cite book | first = Pamela | last = Statham - Drew | year = 2003 | title = James Stirling: Admiral and Founding Governor of Western Australia | publisher = University of Western Australia Press | location = Nedlands, Western Australia | id = ISBN 1876268948] Instead the settlement and surrounding locality were usually referred to as King George Sound. In 1832, Governor of Western Australia Captain (later Admiral) Sir James Stirling declared the settlement a town and renamed it Albany, but the broader locality continued to be referred to as King George Sound for many years.

Until the construction of Fremantle Harbour in 1897, King George Sound contained the only deepwater port in Western Australia, and so was the favoured location for delivery of mail and supplies from abroad to Western Australia. These were then transported to Perth and Fremantle by road or coastal shipping until the early 1890s, when the completion of the Great southern railway provided a quicker service.

In 1914, King George Sound was the last Australian anchorage for the fleet taking the first Australian and New Zealand soldiers, later to become known as ANZACs, to Europe. A memorial to the ANZACs of the Desert Mounted Corps has been established on top of Mount Clarence. Albany was where the first commemorative dawn service was held on ANZAC Day, 25 April, 1923. The contribution of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, president of Turkey from 1923 until 1938 is recognised by naming the entrance into Princess Royal Harbour as Ataturk Channel.

The Cheynes Beach Whaling Company began operating out of Frenchman's Bay that is located within the Sound in 1952 with a small quota of 50 humpback whales that was eventually increased to 175. [cite web|url=|title=Whalemen Adventurers|year=2005|accessdate=2008-05-25] At the peak of the whaling activity in the Sound the company was taking between 900 to 1100 Sperm and Humpback whales in a year. Humpback whaling was banned in 1963 which in turn decreased the viability of the operation. In 1978 the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company closed down after increasing environmental lobby group pressure, it was the last whaling station in Australia. [cite web|url=|title=Pannell Discussions - Australia’s position on whaling|year=2004|accessdate=2008-05-26]


Dense seagrass beds still exist in King George Sound, although they have been adversely affected by increased nutrient levels and industry in the area.Some of the seagrasses present in the sound include "Posidonia australis, Posidonia robertsoneae, Posidonia kirkmanii, Posidonia sinuosa, Posidonia denhartogii, Posidonia ostenfeldii, Amphibolis antarctica, Amphibolis griffithii, Halophila australis, Halophila ovalis, Ruppia megacarpa" and "Heterozostera tasmanica". [cite web|url=|title=Aussie Heritage King George Sound|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-24]

The fringing vegetation around the sound includes both the saltmarshes of Oyster Harbour and Princess Royal Harbour, and the sandy beach vegetation. Saltmarshes contain a variety to species including samphire, seablite, astartea, wattle, greenbush, shore rush, twig rush and saltwater paperbark [cite web|url=|title=Animals and plants of the Albany waterways |year=2002|accessdate=2008-04-24] Freshwater species also occur in areas where substantial freshwater seepage occurs.Sandy beach areas contain a mix of shrubs and sedges such as the grey white cushion bush, coast sword sedge, knotted club rush, sea rocket, pigface and false caper.


The sound comprises a wide variety of habitats that supports an abundance of marine life.Many species of corals are present including Turbinaria frondens, Turbinaria mesenterina and Turbinaria renformis which cover an extensive area. Other coral species that can be found include Scolymia australis, Plesiastrea versipora, Coscinaraea mcneilli and Coscinaraea marshae. [cite web|url=|title=Aussie Heritage King George Sound|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-27]

A large, wild mussel population was known to exist in the sound, and now commercial mussel farms operate within the area that grow and harvest Blue mussels. [cite web|url=|title=WA Department of FisheriesFarming Blue Mussels|year=2000|accessdate=2008-04-27] It is estimated that 203 species of fish inhabit the Oyster Harbour, Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound, with Australian Pilchards "Sardinops sagax neopilchardus" making up 97% of the total fish catch. [cite web|url=|title=Albany Port Expansion Proposal - The Environment|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-27] Other species that are commonly found include Australian Herring, leatherjackets, cobbler, King George Whiting, Tailor, Australian Anchovy, Garfish, Sand Trevally, Tarwhine, Flathead, Tuna, Snapper, Australian Salmon, Yellowtail scad, Sea Mullet, Striped trumpeter, Long-toothed flounder, Dusky morwong and Long-finned goby. [cite web|url=|title=Albany Wtaerways Resource Book - Animals and plants of the Albany waterways|year=2002|accessdate=2008-04-27]

Seals are known to inhabit the sound in various locations along the coast and on the islands. The species that are sighted most often are the Australian Sea Lion and the New Zealand Fur Seal. Species that have been sighted, but are considered to be occasional visitors, include the Subantarctic Fur Seal and the Leopard Seal. [cite web|url=|title=Albany Port Expansion Proposal - The Environment|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-27]

Dolphins are also found in the area, and are occasionally caught and drowned in fishing nets [cite web|url=|title=Common Dolphin stranding, King George Sound|year=1989|accessdate=2008-04-27] or stranded [cite web|url=|title=Common Dolphin stranding, Between King George Sound and Princess Royal Harbour|year=1985|accessdate=2008-04-27] . The Common Dolphin "Delphinus delphis" and the Bottlenose Dolphin "Tursiops truncates" have both been recorded in the area.
Southern Right Whales and Humpback whales frequent the area between the months of July and October when they congregate to mate and calve in the protected waters of the sound. [cite web|url=|title=Australia's South West - Whales - Where to Look|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-27] Other whales that have been spotted in the area include Minke Whales, Blue Whales, [cite web|url=|title=Whale Adventure Tours|year=2008|accessdate=2008-04-27] Short-Finned Pilot Whales, False Killer Whales and Killer Whales. [cite web|url=|title=Albany Port Expansion Proposal - The Environment|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-27] Sperm Whales were known to visit the sound during the whaling era but none have been sighted recently, although a pod was detected further out in the Southern Ocean in 2002. [cite web|url=|title=The Voyage of the Odyssey|year=2002|accessdate=2008-04-27]

The sound becomes a perfect habitat for migratory wading birds during the summer, when an estimated 2000-3000 birds flock to the area to feed in the shallow mudflats of the harbours. [cite web|url=|title=Aussie Heritage - King George Sound|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-30] Some of the species that can be found during the summer months include the Red necked stint and the red knot [cite web|url=|title=Aussie Heritage - Oyster Harbour|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-30] as well as sandpipers, Grey Plovers, red capped plovers, Lesser Sand Plovers, grey tailed tattlers, whimbrels, common greenshanks, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, White faced heron and stilts. [cite web|url=|title=Albany Waterways Resource Book - How waterways work in the Albany area |year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-30] [cite web|url=|title=Albany Gateway - Albany Bird Group|year=2007|accessdate=2008-04-30] Other birds that are commonly seen around the sound include cormorants, pied oystercatchers, sooty oystercatchers, Pacific gulls, caspian terns, pelicans, osprey, white bellied sea eagles,


The Western Australian South Coast is formed along the edge of the southern margin of the Yilgarn craton and is fringed with prominent headlands composed of granite and gneisses formed by Proterozoic tectonic activity. Arcuate Bays that contain beaches backed by holocene dunes are found between the headlands. [cite web|url=|title=Interim Marine and Coastal Regionalisation for Australia|year=1998|accessdate=2008-05-02]

King George Sound includes many islands and some islets, these are all composed of granite with accumulations of soil on most.

Islands of note include:
*Breaksea Island
*Michaelmas Island
*Seal Island
*Mistaken Island
*Green Island


The tidal range in King George Sound (including Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour) is convert|0.4|m|ft|0 [cite web|url=|title=Physical characteristics of Albany Waterways |year=2002|accessdate=2008-04-24] with spring tidal range of convert|1.1|m|ft|0 [cite web|url=|title=Albany Port Expansion Proposal - Hydrodynamics and Sedimentation|year=2007|accessdate=2008-05-17] . Tidal levels can remain static for periods of time. Semi-diurnal tides are frequent and diurnal tides are occasional.

The temperature of the water in the sound is slightly different to that of the open sea.

The salinity level within the Sound remains relatively constant ranging between 34.8 to 35.5 '' [cite web|url=|title=Grange Resources - Albany Port Expansion Proposal - Marine Sedimant and Water Quality|year=2002|accessdate=2008-05-17] , the lower levels occurring during heavy winter rain events when large volumes of freshwater enter the sound from the King and Kalgan rivers.

The Leeuwin Current exerts some influence in the sound as it flows eastwards along the continental shelf in the main part of the sound. [cite web|url=|title=Distribution and timing of spawning by the Australian pilchard (Sardinops sagax neopilchardus) off Albany, Western Australia


Many wrecks exist within King George Sound, the most recent and best known is the convert|133|m|ft|0 guided missile destroyer HMAS Perth that was scuttled in 2001 in convert|35|m|ft|0 of water off Seal Island to be used as a dive-site. [cite web|url=|title= THE BEST ARTIFICIAL REEFS OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA|year=2007|accessdate=2008-05-24] [cite web|url=|title=Albany's Dive Wreck - The former HMAS Perth |year=2007|accessdate=2008-05-24]

The former whale chaser, Cheynes, was sold for scrap in 1961 and subsequently sunk between Michaelmas island and the northern shoreline of the sound. Another chaser in the fleet, Cheynes II, was blown ashore on Geak Point near Quaranup in Princess Royal Harbour in 1990 and is still there to this day approximately convert|290|m|ft|0 off-shore. [cite web|url=|title=History of Cheynes Beach Whale chasers|year=2005|accessdate=2008-05-26] [cite web|url=|title=Bonzle Maps - Map of Cheynes II Wreck, WA|year=2007|accessdate=2008-05-26]

A wooden Barque, the "Fanny Nicholson" was being used as a whaling vessel when it was run ashore during a gale in 1872, the remains can still be seen in the shallow water in Frenchman's Bay. Another whaling barque, the "Runnymede", met a similar fate in 1881 when it was also driven aground during a storm in 1881. [cite web|url=|title=Shipwrecks of the Southern Coast|year=2008|accessdate=2008-05-26]

Two wrecks located within the sound are protected by the Department of Matitime Archeology at the Federal level, these are the wooden Barque "Athena" that was sunk in 1908 and the Wooden boat "Elvie" that sunk in 1923. [cite web|url=|title=Albany Port Expansion Proposal - Social and Cultural Environment|year=2008|accessdate=2008-08-25]

In 1868, "Northumberland", a wooden Barque laden with 2000 tonnes of coal was grounded on a reef off Bald Head near the entrance to King George Sound. The ship was eventually freed and sailed into the sound with a broken rudder, the crew eventually abandoned ship and took to the life boats. "Northumberland" foundered and sunk between Cape Vancouver and Breaksea Island.


ee also

Port of Albany

Whaling in Western Australia

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