Vivid Publishing - Book Publishers Australia

The Boy Who Told Stories:
The Seymours of Dunsborough

Errol Seymour

An Intriguing Account of a Pioneering Family in Western Australia

For well over 100 years, the Seymours were recognised as the leading family in the local Dunsborough community. William Frederick Seymour, who arrived from England as a whaler in 1838, established his Dunsborough farm around 1850 while managing the nearby Castle Rock whaling station. He married Mary Scanlon, a bride-ship girl from famine-stricken Ireland. Mary had the first white child born in Dunsborough, and eventually bore eight more children. For ten years William and Mary enjoyed an idyllic lifestyle on their new farm, next to the gorgeous Dunsborough beach. Then disaster struck. During the following few years, they lost their three eldest children in tragic circumstances. And William was charged with the murder of one of his employees. He died not long after, at the age of only 54. Mary survived her husband by 45 years, astonishingly raising her young family while successfully maintaining the farm.

Out of this desperate family crisis arose the leader of the next generation of Seymours; second son Robert John, who was only four years old when his father died. He expanded the farm on to adjacent property resulting in the Seymour dynasty owning over 400 priceless acres with extensive beachfront. This land entirely encompassed the area now occupied by the Dunsborough shopping and business precinct; today some of Western Australia’s most sought after real estate outside the Perth metropolitan area. Robert John built the first Dunsborough store and the first bakery as well as starting the first garage; initiating the birth of the present township.

This book places on record the absorbing stories of this remarkable family whose contribution to so much of the history of Dunsborough now goes unnoticed. The author, Errol Seymour, is a great grandson of William Frederick Seymour. Errol spent his early childhood on the Seymour farm until he was nine years old, when his parents moved to Perth. His story reflects a world changing at a frantic pace: from nineteenth century whaling off Western Australia’s coast to today’s challenging extraction of its offshore oil and gas reserves.

Postage and handling Australia wide: $15 per copy. Books can be picked up from author’s residence in Perth, free of postage and handling, by prior arrangement, email or phone 9293 3502. Books can also be picked up free of postage and handling from Text & Co bookshop in Dunsborough, 34 Dunn Bay Road, phone 9750 5531.




In the News

Busselton Mail Newspaper: July 25, 2019 - Emma Kirk
"Scandals, secrets, tragedies and heroes are the basis of a book The Boy Who Told Stories written by Errol Seymour whose ancestors were early settlers of Dunsborough."
Click here to read the article.

6PR - Radio interview by Chris Ilsey
"West Aussie author Errol Seymour on his new look at Dunsborough’s past"


The Royal WA Historical Society, June 2021.
Reviewer: Dr Lenore Layman AM; Fellow and Past President of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies; Adjunct Associate Professor, Murdoch University.
This large (614 pp), well-produced book has been written by The Boy Who Told Stories, Errol Seymour. It is not, he insists, an historical volume, rather an ‘anecdotal history’ or memoir of a pioneering family, the Seymours, of which Errol is a proud member. His first nine years were spent on the Seymour family farm at Dunsborough at a time when the town was little more than a family enterprise. Errol’s memory of an idyllic rural life is vivid and Part 1 of the book contains his happy recall of those early years.
While the family was founded in Western Australia by Frederick William Seymour, who arrived in 1838 as a whaler, and his wife Mary, it was Robert John Seymour – the author’s grandfather – who pioneered Dunsborough in the 1920s with 400 acres of land. The family also had the general store and some holiday cottages as well as delivering milk from their dairy farm. They acquired and then sold off the land that now covers Dunsborough township. The Seymour family name is virtually forgotten in the district today and part of Errol Seymour’s purpose in writing this book is to remind readers of the role his family played in developing the district. Good use has been made of oral histories, newspaper accounts and personal papers to piece the story together as it tracks back in time beyond the author’s recall.
While the book is unusually structured, its parts are clearly delineated and well presented. Part 2 picks up Errol’s autobiography and tells of his academic successes, first at UWA and then in the USA, followed by his recruitment by Shell Oil and a successful thirty-year career in the oil and gas industry. This career brought him back to WA in 1974 to assume design responsibility for Woodside-Burmah’s off-shore gas pipeline to bring North West Shelf gas to the mainland. It was a challenging task and Errol became Chief Pipeline Engineer, designing the North Rankin A Trunkline. It was a great success.
He retired in 1996 and moved with his wife to a farm at Bridgetown. There they tried their hand at growing organic strawberries before turning to fruit processing — Organic Fine Foods — producing pureed fruit snacks. Errol’s innovative engineering and design skills were applied with initial success to this new enterprise until ill-health and age dictated its sale. Parts 1 and 2, which are Errol’s autobiography, comprise the first half of the book and provide a lively and perceptive account of a successful and happy life where opportunities have been seized. It also recognises the sadder shades that are part of all our life stories.
Part 3 takes the Seymour story backwards to Robert John Seymour, author’s grandfather, and his family, and traces the family’s life in the Dunsborough district. Many family stories are re-told, family memories re-visited — joys, conflicts and losses explored. At the end after World War II the Seymour dynasty in Dunsborough comes to an end. Part 4 tracks even further back to the beginnings of British colonisation in WA and the arrival of the first Seymour. However his name was then Frederick William Palmer, arriving in 1838. In 1848 he changed his name to William Frederick Seymour for no clear reason that can be ascertained today. This is the type of surprise that genealogical research throws up and the book documents the convolutions the research took as the past was disentangled. Part 4 also contains an interesting account of Seymour’s involvement in early shore-based whaling as Chief Headsman at the Castle Rock Whaling Station in Geographe Bay.
This substantial and well-written book is Errol Seymour’s tribute to his Seymour family. He has re-instated them in historical memory as he set out to do. Too often in the past only the elite of society survived in the historical record; it is not so today.



About the Author

Dr Errol Seymour

Dr Errol Seymour has two degrees from the University of Western Australia, Bachelor of Engineering with First Class Honours and Master of Engineering Science, together with a PhD in Engineering from Harvard University, USA. The Australia Day Honours Awards, January 26, 2020, announced the appointment of Dr Errol Seymour as a Member of the Order of Australia, AM, for significant service to the oil and gas industry, and to engineering.

Errol commenced his career with Shell Oil Company in Houston, Texas, where he gained an international reputation in undersea pipeline technology. On returning to Australia he joined the then fledging oil and gas company, later to become Woodside Energy, which had been set up to develop Western Australia’s North West Shelf gas fields. His first task: design the offshore pipeline to bring gas and liquids from the offshore production platforms to the onshore plant; the world’s largest such pipeline at the time. It would deliver gas for 200,000 domestic and commercial users in Western Australia plus six million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas for export to Japan, on which 63 million Japanese customers would depend. Following this assignment, Errol worked his way up through the Woodside organisation to become Manager of all Woodside projects and Member of the Head Office Corporate Management Team of Australia’s largest oil and gas company.



The Seymours of Dunsborough by Errol Seymour
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ISBN: 978-1-925846-21-8
Format: Hardcover & dust jacket / ribbon marker
Extent: 672 pages (250 mm x 180 mm)
RRP: $45
Publisher: Vivid Publishing
Category: Non-Fiction -- Historical Memoir