Bridgetown is a town in the South West region of Western Australia, approximately 270 kilometres (168 mi) south of Perth on the Blackwood River at the intersection of South Western Highway with Brockman Highway to Nannup and Augusta.
The area was previously known as Geegelup, which in the Noongar Aboriginal language meant “place of gilgies”, referring to the fresh water crustaceans that live in the area. In 1857, Edward Godfrey Hester (now honoured in nearby Hester) and John Blechynden settled in the area. In 1861, convicts built the road from Donnybrook into the area.
Bridgetown’s name was first proposed by surveyor T.C. Carey in 1868, for two reasons – “as it is at a bridge and the “Bridgetown” was the first ship to put in at Bunbury for the wool from these districts”, and was approved and gazetted on 9 June 1868.
From then until about 1885, many buildings including the primary school (1870), post office and two hotels were constructed, many of which are still standing today. In 1885, the Bridgetown Agricultural Society was formed and local farmers produced sheep, cattle, dairy products, timber, fruit and nuts. The gold rush from 1892 onwards brought prosperity to the town and saw a considerable increase in settlement. In 1907, a number of significant buildings including the police station were erected.
Bridgetown is the seat of the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes and the centre of a productive agricultural district. Many buildings in the town centre are over a century old. The town has a Jigsaw Gallery and Museum, which claims to host the only jigsaw collection of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and also a primary school (1870) and high school (1962), district hospital, telecentre, shire offices, roadhouse, agricultural showground, shopping facilities, accommodation for travellers (hotel/motel, B&Bs, caravan park) and numerous picnic spots along the Blackwood River. The rural residential area of Kangaroo Gully to the town’s east has grown since the 1990s.