My wife and I stayed two nights in Busselton and during our stay visited Busselton Jetty now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Western Australia. It is a must see for any visitor to the Margaret River wine region.
Stretching 1.8 kilometres across the protected waters of Geographe Bay from the town of Busselton it is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. Shallow water inshore called for a long jetty so ships could secure alongside for loading cut timber.
Construction of the jetty began in 1853 and by 1865 the first section of the jetty became available for shipping. Bigger ships and drifting sandbanks called for extending he jetty into deeper water until the 1960s when it reached its current 1841 metres.
After more than a century of use and servicing over 5000 vessels, the jetty closed as a port in 1973. Once closed, government maintenance of the jetty ended and it began to decay, suffering attack by wood borers, rot and the occasional fire.
On 4 April 1978, Cyclone Alby destroyed a large part of the shore end of the jetty. Rebuilding proved expensive but a community group raised the funding needed. In December 1999, a devastating fire burnt 65 metres of jetty to the waterline. The Jetty reopened on Sunday 6 February 2011 after completion of a refurbishment programme. New features include interpretive nodes and fish cleaning bays, swimming and diving platforms, rain shelters and heritage sculptures.
The striking boatshed style Interpretive Centre & Cultural Heritage Museum 50 metres offshore opened in April 2001. The Centre and Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the Jetty's rich past, its future and the marine environment. Unique giftware, art and souvenirs are on sale.
The jetty features a rail line service along its 1.8 km length, which ran commercially as part of the railway line into Busselton from Bunbury. Visitors can sit back, relax and take in the beautiful surrounds of Geographe Bay as they travel out to the Underwater Observatory at the pier end or choose to walk. Many visitors take the train one-way as we did and walk the other way.
The 9.5 m diameter observatory opened on 13 December 2003. This unique building allows visitors to experience one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs by descending eight metres to the ocean floor via a spiral staircase to discover a forest of vividly coloured tropical and subtropical corals, sponges and invertebrates.
Viewing windows at various levels allow visitors to look out on some of the 300 marine species that live beneath the jetty.
There are four distinct depth zones. The first is the intertidal zone. Barnacles, mussels, oysters, chitons, crabs and shrimps occupy it. They can withstand harsh environmental conditions. Under it is the subtidal zone dominated by hard corals and orange tabular bryozoans. Small patches of marine algae may also grow on the outer piles of the jetty. The midwater zone contains soft corals, sponges, ascidians, bryozoans, worms and the many mobile animals that live on them.
The seabed under the jetty is a mixture of limestone rubble, fallen timbers, sand and silt. This provides various hard surfaces for encrusting animals to attach to and many nooks and crannies for mobile animals to live and feed in.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
The Busselton Museum housed in the town’s Old Butter Factory is the largest museum outside Perth. It provides an insight into the events that helped shape Busselton. The community put the museum together for the benefit of the community and visitors alike and is an incredible collection of items of every sort and size from all around the area. The collection pays special attention to the Group Settlement Scheme of the 1920’s which shaped the South-West development.
This federal, state and British governments' Scheme saw a wave of settlements in the region. Under it settlers were to work in small groups to develop dairy farms to address Western Australia's reliance on imported dairy products. There was also a prevailing belief at the time that everybody should have a chance to be a farmer and that it was necessary to settle as many families as possible in the bush. This scheme became part of a significant 6,000 family British migration programme.
The participants endured hardship and isolation. Farmers had to cart produce and supplies along hand cut tracks as the railway only reached the region in 1924. By July 1927, farmers has abandoned 72 blocks of land and 124 blocks had combined from the 923 blocks in the Busselton area alone. The rate of abandonment increased after the onset of the depression in the 1930's as the number of livestock carried on each farm proved to be too small for profitable survival.
The Scheme described as a 'glorious failure' closed in 1930 but it had managed to set up a dairy industry which still flourishes in many parts of the South-West. It also created several townships and created improvements in transport and communication including a rail link with Perth.
The butter factory continued in operation and during the 1939 - 1945 war prospered and during the boom period which followed the factory reached peak production of about 30 tons each week. It also ran an iceworks, supplying the town and fishermen with ice before the days of household refrigeration. High overheads during the off-season, coupled with more efficient road transport caused its closure and Busselton also stopped making butter in 1952. A dried milk plant set up in the factory also eventually stopped production. The property served as a depot for trucks and tankers until closing in 1973 and the museum opened in the same year.
The 10 display rooms contain photographs, equipment and memorabilia which trace the family, social, civic, commercial and maritime history of Busselton. They cover everything from agriculture to whaling; from crockery, clocks and cameras to sewing machines, travel and transport. The one-hectare site nestles on the banks of the picturesque Vasse River and the museum even has a replica of the original Jetty Rotunda.
At the museum you can walk through a genuine home and a one-teacher school from the 1920s. These give an idea of how life would have been for the settlers. You can even listen to old records on the gramophone and marvel at the beautiful garments worn over 100 years ago. Visit the boiler room and creamery to see machinery used to produce butter and cheese.
Most touching is the pair of chairs made for the royal visit of the newly installed Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1954 and the letter of thanks from the Queen in which she wished them good fortune in developing their community.
Being of farming stock the display of farm and butter making machinery was of special interest to me but there are lots here for everyone to enjoy.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
VISIT THE JETTY. WALK OR RIDE THE SMALL TRAIN
is the longest jetty in all of OZ ,also the longest in the southern Hemisphere. Located in Busselton on the shores of Geographe Bay . This jetty is over two kilometers long and is really something to see and visit...The jetty was used many years ago to load and unload the many cargoes coming and going from Busselton. Today it is still possible to ride the little train that still runs the length of the jetty..The waters here are just so pristine..you might also want to take a swim. This is one really lovely place..
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Sailing and Boating
Fishing From The Jetty
Fishing from the jetty is a popular activity among both locals and visitors.
To protect the survival of the fishing resources, strict rules apply concerning the minimum and maximum size of certain species of fish that may be taken. Measure boards on the handrail indicate the limits.
The Jetty Underwater Observatory
The Observatory at the far end of the jetty allows a glance into the world underwater.
Visitors can escend eight metres below sea level and look through the observation chamber to see an artificial reef with colourful fish and tropical coral.
Unfortunately the observatory was closed the day we came due to bad weather and limited visibility.
Remember to buy tickets for the observatory at the cash desk at the beginning of the jetty before walking the 2 kilometers. There are no tickets sold out there at the observatory itself.
Busselton's jetty is said to be the longest in the whole Southern hemisphere. From the beach to the tip it's 2 kms long - quite a walk. The wooden jetty was originally built in 1865, damaged and rebuilt several times.
Nowadays it is not in use for ships any more. At the far end, an underwater observatory has been built.
On fine days a little train runs along the jetty. Since the first half of the jetty is rather narrow, pedestrians watch out and use the passing points.
The photo of the four blue houses at the starting point of the jetty is to be seen everywhere... They host a souvenir shop and the cash desk that sells entry tickets for the jetty, the train and the underwater observatory.
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
Busselton Jetty & Underwater Observatory
Opened in December 2003, 1.8km at the end of the Jetty and 8m below the water is what has been described as the world's greatest artificial reef.
It was great to see the fish, coral and starfish, very colourful and vibrant. At $22 for adults, it was quite expensive for what was on offer, however given the history of the Busselton Jetty, I considered it a donation for the cost of repairing it.
My hint: try and pick a quiet day when there are no kids around.
For further details about times, check the website.
- Family Travel
A visit to the Busselton foreshore is a good way to spend a day with family or friends. You can go for a swim, have a bbq or picnic lunch, view the local marine life at the underwater observatory, take advantage of the wide open spaces or play the day away at the Nautical Lady.
- School Holidays
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
CHECK OUT THE SOUTH WEST SUNSETS
One thing I always try to do on holiday is find a relaxing spot at the end of the day to sit and take time to watch a sunset. In any normal working week this just does not happen as I'm usually cooking dinner or racing children to sporting venues. Busselton did not let me down this Easter we had wonderful weather and a great sunset.
- Farm Stay
- Family Travel
See the jetty
I'm sure there's a lot more to see in Busselton besides the jetty, but unfortunately we just didn't have time to explore at all.
The 2 km jetty is well worth a look, though our experience wasn't too positive as it was a very windy and blustery day and it felt like a lot longer than a 4 km walk.
The views of the coast from way out on the Jetty are quite attractive too, with a water fun park with a slide which looks like a lighthouse a good backdrop to the scene.
- Budget Travel
The Underwater Observatory opened in 2003 and is a very unusual place at the end of a 1.8metre jetty. The observatory descends 8metres below the water’s surface and provides viewing of amazing corals and fish life. There are 11 viewing windows and only up to 40 people can be accommodated at any one time. There is an elevator for wheelchairs or physically disabled.
The Busselton Jetty has been described as the greatest artificial reef and there are more than 300 individual marine species, sub-tropical corals, sponges and fish living in this environment. There is an admission but it is also inclusive of the train ride and jetty entrance.
Open : Summer (Dec-Apr) 8am - 5pm
Fun For The Kids
This entertainment world also offers mini jeeps and a merry –go-round. There are Jungle Bungles, indoor playground which features a maze of tunnels and slides and a ball pond. Or you could test yourself on an 18 hole mini golf course or drive a racecar on a cambered track.
Entry is free but rides do charge on the token scheme – the more you have, the more bonuses you get.
Not to be missed with the kids. The Nautical Lady is an outdoor family fun centre which is right on the beach by the Busselton Jetty. Some of the attractions included a water slide tower, climbing wall, skating and skate-board rink, racing cars and bumper boats.
There is also a jetty viewing platform
Open : 10am-5pm (weather permitting)
Summer Holidays 9:30am-9:30pm (except Christmas Day)
The Heritage Park and Trail
The Heritage Park and Trail begins at Peel Terrace and Causeway Road (near the Tourist Bureau). It will take you past a variety of contemporary sculptures, the Aboriginal Garden, Victoria Square, St Mary’s Church and the Pioneer Cemetery. You can obtain a map of the walk at the Busselton Tourist Bureau.
Weld House - Reportory Club
Weld House has been recognised on the State’s Register of Heritage Places. The building was completed in 1881 and belonged to the Weld Mechanic’s Institute which was a school for trades. The hall doubled as a community meeting place, a classroom and a rehearsal and performance site. During its time the hall was also a library, Masonic Temple, dance hall, gymnasium, school and auction mart. In 1962 the Busselton Repertory Club renovated and moved into Weld Hall and renamed it Weld Theatre. The club performs on average 3 plays a year as well as a pantomime.
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