There’s so much to see and do in the Busselton/Margaret River, and it’s easy to get complacent about what’s on our own doorstep. Every now and again we set out on the tourist route, to get a fresh and renewed appreciation of this wonderful area that we have the good fortune to call, ‘home’.
Recently, we visited Busselton’s iconic jetty, took the train ride to the end of the almost 2 km long structure, and went down into the beautiful underwater observatory.
First though a bit of background on the jetty:
In 1865 a 150metre long jetty was built to cater for cargo vessels importing and exporting timber and other produce to and from the Busselton area. The wooden jetty was continually extended until by 1960 it had reached 1841 metres, making it the longest timber jetty in the southern hemisphere.
However, by 1971 the jetty had ceased operation and quickly deteriorated, receiving little in the way of maintenance. Then in 1978 Cyclone Alby struck, taking out much of the first 700 metres of the old jetty. The government of the day decided to demolish the remainder.
They hadn’t counted on the spirit and tenacity of the people of Busselton. Groups were formed who successfully lobbied to obtain funding for the the restoration and upkeep of the structure. I’m so pleased they did.
The encrusted piles of the jetty are predominately jarrah logs, 16 metres in length, sharpened at one end and driven 4 – 5 metres into the limestone seabed. The cross beans give the piles support and strength to support the decking above. The 12 metre wide decking provides the shade required for the unique marine life on the jetty piles beneath.
An underwater observatory was constructed for the jetty on land at Henderson Shipping yards, and then towed by tug boat to Busselton. Upon arrival, the 550 ton observatory was secured to the sea floor using 18metre long bolts, and opened officially to the public in December 2003.
The jetty is, without any doubt, the most iconic structure in Busselton. Extending out into Geographe Bay almost 2 kms, it remains the longest wooden pylon jetty in the southern hemisphere.
If you’ve never seen the delights that gather around jetty pylons, especially in the clear waters of Geographe Bay, you really must put a trip out to the underwater observatory on Busselton Jetty on your, ‘must see and do’ list.
What lies beneath is a stunningly beautiful underwater garden.
You can walk the length of the jetty for a small fee, or there’s a train that can take you either one way or the return trip. I’d recommend visiting the observatory while you’re there. There is a small cost involved to use the jetty, with a slightly bigger cost to take advantage of the train. The fees charged for using the jetty, and the admission fees to the observatory all contribute to the ongoing maintenance and restoration of the Jetty.
What a pleasure it is to live in Busselton!
Footnote: I’ve noticed posters popping up around town that indicate you can now ‘walk under the jetty’. I haven’t as yet checked out the details, but if you’re coming to the area you may want to check this option out.