The Alkimos

Alkimos is named after the ship Alkimos, which lays on the sea floor a few hundred metres off the

coast. The Alkimos, originally named the Viggo Hansteen, was an American liberty ship built in 1943.

She was used to transport cargo and troops around Europe during WWII. After the war, the ship was

sold to a Greek shipping company and renamed Alkimos.

The Shipwreck

In 1963 on a journey from Jakarta to Bunbury, the Alkimos hit a reef off Beagle Island. The ship was

stranded for three days before she was towed to Fremantle for repairs. Two months later the

Alkimos left Fremantle to be towed to Hong Kong for further repairs; however the unlucky ship

broke free and ran aground. A second attempt to move the ship in 1964 failed when the crew of the

tugboat was arrested, forcing them to leave the Alkimos anchored. She broke free again and found

her final resting place off what is now known as Alkimos Beach. All attempts to re-float the ship or

salvage scrap have failed.

The Alkimos in 1965, photo courtesy of the Daily News (Perth WA)

The Alkimos in 2012, photo courtesy of



Butler, J (1835) ‘John Butler’s report of an excursion to search for cattle 35 miles north of Perth in

March 1834’ Exploration Diaries. WA Dept. of Lands and Surveys, pg. 280-281.

Chambers, A. (1991) The pioneers : a story of Wanneroo. City of Wanneroo, Joondalup, WA.

Daily News (1965) ‘She’s Still There…’ Daily News (Perth, WA). 29 July, pg. 2.

Love Perth (2014) Alkimos. Accessed online at:

Monument Australia (2014) Butler’s Swamp. Accessed online at:

West Australian (1963) Alkimos - reports of the stranding of March 1963 and the aftermath. West

Australian (newspaper on microfilm).

West Australian (1963-1964) Alkimos - reports of the wrecking of June 1963 and attempts to refloat

her. West Australian (newspaper on microfilm).

Early Settlers

John Butler

John Butler was an early settler from Liverpool who arrived in Australia in January 1830. He set up a

farm and inn at Freshwater Bay (now Peppermint Grove) to accommodate people travelling

between Fremantle and Perth. He became the first European explorer to visit the Alkimos area in

1834, when he led a small group north from Perth to search for lost cattle. John Butler’s

contributions to local history can still be seen today with several places named after him, such as

Butler’s Swamp (now Lake Claremont), the suburb of Butler, and John Butler Primary College. A

monument to commemorate John Butler and a military pensioner settlement can be seen in Lake

Claremont reserve.


Butler, J (1835) ‘John Butler’s report of an excursion to search for cattle 35 miles north of Perth in March 1834’ Exploration Diaries. WA Dept. of Lands and Surveys, pg. 280-281.


Later Arrivals

Lieutenant George Grey visited the area soon afterwards in 1838, followed by John Septimus Roe

and Governor Hutt in 1841. As Perth expanded people began to settle in the Wanneroo area and the

land that would become Alkimos was leased to L.B. Lukin in 1888. The area was originally part of the

Perth Road District, which then became the City of Stirling until the Wanneroo Road Board was

established in 1902, later becoming the shire of Wanneroo in 1961. As the population grew,

Wanneroo gained city status in 1985. As the area continued to prosper and expand, new urban

centres were planned to house the increasing population, one of these was Alkimos.




Butler, J (1835) ‘John Butler’s report of an excursion to search for cattle 35 miles north of Perth in

March 1834’ Exploration Diaries. WA Dept. of Lands and Surveys, pg. 280-281.

Chambers, A. (1991) The pioneers : a story of Wanneroo. City of Wanneroo, Joondalup, WA.

Monument Australia (2014) Butler’s Swamp. Accessed online at:


Noongar Knowledge

xmas treeSurvival Skills

Noongar people have survived in the Alkimos area for at least 40,000 years.  They learned which plants are good to eat, when to collect them and how to prepare them.  They studied the movements of animals, learning when and where they could be hunted, and how to capture them. Sources of water were vital to Noongar people and are recorded and valued as part of indigenous mythology and culture.

Spiritual Significance

The sand dune system, limestone areas, stands of Moodja (Christmas Trees), Tuart and Banksia in the Alkimos and Butler areas have spiritual and cultural significance to the Noongar people. 

In particular, Karli Springs, Orchestra Shell Cave, Jindalee and Lake Nowergup are important sites for Noongar people, and are protected.  For further information, you can search the interactive maps on the Department of Aboriginal Affairs website

Noongar Word List

  • Noongar - The Indigenous people of south-western Australia
  • Wadjuk - Noongar language group from the Perth Metropolitan area
  • Mooro – The group of Noongar people who lived in the Perth area north of the Swan River and east to Ellenbrook when settlers arrived.  A survey conducted by colonist Francis Armstrong in 1836 recorded that there were 28 Mooro people living in the area at that time.

Plants and Animals

  • Gnweeyark - Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo.  Their name, ‘Gnweeyark’, describes their call.
  • Djidee-djidee - Willy Wagtail
  • Piara - Slender Banksia. Noongar people make a sweet drink from the nectar.
  • Moodja – Western Australian Christmas Tree
  • Balga - Grasstree
  • Mindarie - Grasstree leaves
  • Boort - bark of a tree
  • Mia-mia - Shelter made from branches covered with boort or mindarie

Noongar Seasons

  • Birak - Hot dry season (December and January). Banksia flowers were collected for honey.  Moodja flowering, signaling onset of hottest weather. Burning was used to flush animals for hunting and encourage new shoots to grow.
  • Bunuru - Late summer and early Autumn (February and March) The hottest season – people moved to the coast and around lakes to catch frogs, turtles and other reptiles.  Zamia nuts were also collected for soaking.
  • Djeran - Cooler late autumn (April and May) Mia-mia were built and cloaks were made from skins for protection from the cold. Tubers and bulbs were harvested and scrub was burnt to encourage new shoots for the next year.
  • Makuru - Early winter (June and July).  People moved to high ground and sheltered places near the hills. Emus, kangaroos and possums were hunted.
  • Djilba - Late winter and early spring (August and September) Tubers as well as emus, kangaroos and possums were important food sources. Flowering myrtles and other wildflowers signaled the end of the colder weather.
  • Kambarang - time of decreasing rain in spring (October and November) As the warm weather arrived, people hunted waterbirds around the lakes, as well as frogs, turtles and other reptiles.


Armstrong, F. (1837). ‘Manners and Habits of the Aborigines of Western Australia, From Information Collected by Mr F Armstrong, Interpreter, 1836’, in Green, N J (ed) (1979), Nyungar, the People: Aboriginal Customs in the Southwest of Australia, Creative Research Publishers, Perth, pp 181-206.

City of Joondalup, (2011). People and Plants in Mooro Country. Nyungar Plant use in Yellagonga Regional Park.  City of Joondalup, 2011.

Department of Aboriginal Affairs website: