About my region is a series of individual profiles of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries in your region. This regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors in the Bunbury region and the recent Western Australia financial performance of the broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries.
The Bunbury region of Western Australia is located in the south-west part of the state, south of Perth. The region includes the major regional centres of Bunbury, Margaret River and Manjimup and comprises the 13 local government areas of Augusta—Margaret River, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown—Greenbushes, Bunbury, Busselton, Capel, Collie, Dardanup, Donnybrook—Balingup, Harvey, Manjimup, Nannup and Waroona. The region covers a total area of around 24,800 square kilometres or 0.98 per cent of Western Australia and is home to approximately 180,100 people (ABS 2017).
Agricultural land in the Bunbury region occupies 7,105 square kilometres, or 29 per cent of the region. Areas classified as conservation and natural environments (nature conservation, protected areas and minimal use) occupy 7,596 square kilometres, or 31 per cent of the region. The most common land use by area is production forestry, which occupies 7,758 square kilometres or 31 per cent of the Bunbury region.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the November 2017 Labour Force Survey indicate that around 93,600 people were employed in the Bunbury region. The region accounts for 7 per cent of total employment in Western Australia and 22 per cent of all people employed in the Western Australian agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Construction was the largest employment sector with 12,400 people, followed by retail trade with 11,700 people, and accommodation and food services with 9,800 people. Other important employment sectors in the region were health care and social assistance; agriculture, forestry and fishing; and education and training. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector employed 8,500 people, representing 9 per cent of the region's workforce.
Value of agricultural production
In 2015–16, the gross value of agricultural production in the Bunbury region was $834 million, which was 10 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Western Australia ($8.2 billion).
The Bunbury region has a diverse agricultural sector. The most important commodities in the region based on the gross value of agricultural production were milk ($179 million), followed by vegetables ($125 million) and cattle and calves ($124 million). These commodities together contributed 51 per cent of the total value of agricultural production in the region. In 2015–16 the most important vegetables in the region based on gross value of production were potatoes ($44 million), followed by carrots ($21 million) and onions ($20 million).
Number and type of farms
ABS data indicate that in 2015–16 there were 1,448 farms in the Bunbury region with an estimated value of agricultural operations of $40,000 or more. The region contains 18 per cent of all farm businesses in Western Australia.
Number of farms, by industry classification, Bunbury region, 2015–16
Number of farms
% of Region
Number of farms
Contribution of region
to state total
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
Dairy Cattle Farming
Sheep Farming (Specialised)
Vegetable Growing (Outdoors)
Sheep-Beef Cattle Farming
Other Fruit and Tree Nut Growing
Apple and Pear Growing
Grain-Sheep or Grain-Beef Cattle Farming
Note: Estimated value of agricultural operations $40,000 or more.
Industries that constitute less than 1 per cent of the region's industry are not shown.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017
Farms in the table above are classified according to the activities that generate most of their value of production. Beef cattle farms (439 farms) were the most common, accounting for 30 per cent of all farms in the Bunbury region, and 37 per cent of all beef cattle farms in Western Australia.
Estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) is a measure of the value of production from farms and a measure of their business size. Around 41 per cent of farms in the Bunbury region had an EVAO between $50,000 and $150,000. These farms accounted for only 8 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in 2015–16. In comparison, 12 per cent of farms in the region had an EVAO of more than $1 million and accounted for an estimated 52 per cent of the total value of agricultural operations in the Bunbury region in 2015–16.
Farm financial performance
Estimates of financial performance are available for all broadacre, dairy, and vegetable farms in Western Australia.
The Bunbury region straddles the West and South Coast marine areas of Western Australia. The western part of the coast line contains the important Geographe Bay area, which contributes to Western Australia's annual harvest of saucer scallops. This coastal area also serves Western Australia's western and demersal gillnet and longline fishery, which lands a range of shark species. Estuarine coastal fisheries contribute a range of finfish species including pilchard, Australian herring, black bream, cobbler, western Australian salmon, scaley mackerel, white bait, southern garfish. Crustacean species are also caught in the area, including southern rock lobster and blue swimmer crabs. A significant portion of West Australia's pilchard and greenlip and brown lip abalone catch is processed in this region. There are few aquaculture activities in the Bunbury region.
The Bunbury region has a higher participation rate than the state average for recreational fishing, only exceeded by the Pilbara and Kimberley in the 2000 National Recreational Fishing Survey (Henry and Lyle 2003). Fishing for finfish in inshore and estuarine waters is popular from both the shore and boats. The main species caught are whiting, Australian herring, tailor and silver trevally. Prawns and blue swimmer crabs are also caught by recreational fishers using nets in the local estuaries.
In 2014–15, the gross value of Western Australian fisheries production (both aquaculture and wild–catch) was $569.6 million, an increase of 16 per cent ($79.4 million) from 2013–14. Western Australia accounted for 21 per cent of the total value of Australian fisheries production in 2014–15. In value terms, the wild–catch sector accounted for around 86 per cent ($488.4 million) of the state's total production and the aquaculture sector accounted for the remaining 14 per cent ($81.2 million).
Western Australia's wild–catch sector is dominated by the production of western rocklobster, which accounted for around 79 per cent of the state's total wild–catch production in 2014–15. Other major wild–catch seafood products include prawns (8 per cent) and abalone (2 per cent). Over the past decade the real value of Western Australian wild–caught fisheries is estimated to have declined by 10 per cent. The decline in value was mostly driven by a 50 per cent decline in total production volume.
The product for which the real value of production declined most over the past decade is scallops, falling by 90 per cent to $3 million in 2014–15. This was the result of a 94 per cent reduction in the volume caught. A large proportion of rocklobster production is exported, mostly to Hong Kong. Exchange rate movements have a significant effect on the value of rocklobster exports and, in turn, production.
Prawns also account for a significant proportion of Western Australian wild–catch production, accounting for an estimated 15 per cent and 8 per cent of the total volume and value, respectively, of wild–catch production in 2014–15. The value of prawn production increased by 4 per cent to $37.3 million in 2014–15. This mostly reflects a 2 per cent increase in average unit prices.
The real value of Western Australian aquaculture has declined over the past decade by 52 per cent to $81.2 million in 2014–15. Most of the decline can be attributed to a reduction in the value of pearl oyster production.
The value of aquaculture production in 2014–15 increased by 11 per cent ($7.9 million) to $81.2 million. This increase was mainly the result of a $7.1 million rise (12 per cent) in the value of pearl production. Pearls are the most valuable aquaculture product in the state and contributed around 84 per cent ($67.9 million) of aquaculture production value in 2014–15. The edible seafood component of Western Australia's aquaculture sector accounted for 16 per cent ($12.8 million) of total aquaculture production value in 2014–15.
In 2014–15, Western Australia's seafood product exports were valued at $486 million, representing a 24 per cent increase in value compared with 2013–14. The main export seafood product is western rocklobster, which accounted for 91 per cent of the state's exports of seafood in 2014–15. Other major export seafood products include prawns (3 per cent) and abalone (3 per cent).
Vietnam and Hong Kong are the major destination for Western Australian seafood exports, accounting for around 75 per cent and 13 per cent of the total value of exports in 2014–15 respectively. Other major export destinations include Japan (4 per cent) and the United States (3 per cent).
Recreational fishing is a popular activity in Western Australia, with an estimated 643 000 people fishing recreationally in the state (Government of Western Australia 2013). Most of the activity is in Perth and the surrounding area. Recreational fishing makes a significant contribution to the state economy and attracts thousands of visitors to regional Western Australia each year (Government of Western Australia 2013). There is also a large charter boat sector providing recreational fishing experiences to local, interstate and international tourists.
In 2014–15, the most recent year for which regional data are available, the total plantation area in the Bunbury region was 106,400 hectares, including 60,800 hectares of hardwood plantations and 45,000 hectares of softwood plantations. The main hardwood species planted is blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and the main softwood species planted is radiata pine (Pinus radiata).
In 2011, there was 1.6 million hectares of native forests in the Bunbury region, comprised mainly of Eucalypt medium open (936,500 hectares), Eucalypt medium woodland (272,700 hectares) and Eucalypt tall open (180,300 hectares) forest types. There were 755,100 hectares of native forests in multiple-use public forest available for timber production and 577,500 hectares were in nature conservation reserves. The main native forest industry is in the north of the region. Major export and timber processing industries in the Bunbury region are located at Manjimup (woodchipping), Middlesex (wood-based panel production), and Dardanup and Yarloop (sawnwood production). The main timber export facility is the Bunbury Port.
In 2015–16, the total plantation area in Western Australia was 383,400 hectares, comprised of 276,400 hectares of hardwood plantations, 98,400 hectares of softwood plantations and 8,500 hectares of other plantations.
In 2015–16, the volume of native hardwood logs harvested in Western Australia was 355,000 cubic metres valued at $28 million. The volume of plantation hardwood logs harvested was 3.7 million cubic metres valued at $262 million. The volume of softwood harvested was 912,000 cubic metres valued at $59 million. These values and volumes include Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Total sales and service income in the Western Australia forest and wood product industry was estimated at $1.5 billion in 2015–16. The income generated from the sale of wood products was $1.1 billion and the income generated from the sale of paper and paper products was $343 million.
In 2016, Western Australia's forestry sector employed 3,995 workers (0.3 per cent of the total employed workforce in Western Australia) compared with 5,581 (0.5 per cent) in 2011. The number of people employed includes the following categories: forestry, logging, support services, timber wholesaling; and wood, pulp, paper and converted paper product manufacturing.
ABS 2017, Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2016, cat. no. 3235.0 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, accessed 19 September 2017.
Henry, GW & Lyle JM (eds) 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, Final report to the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, NSW Fisheries final report series, no. 48, FRDC project no. 99/158, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
WA Government 2013, Recreational fishing guide 2013: simpler rules for better fishing (pdf 2.51mb), Department of Fisheries, Perth.