Busselton is a city of 28,000 people (2018) on Geographe Bay in the South West region of Western Australia. It is famous for its 2-km-long heritage jetty, which has been restored for tourism. Busselton was voted Western Australia’s top tourist town in 1995, 1996, and 2005.
Busselton was a very early settled farming and timber port in a sheltered Geographe Bay, just south of the larger Bunbury.
It was connected by railway to Perth until 1957. It is now served by wider, faster highways, and is predominantly a car-oriented location. Although public and private transport is available to the intrepid traveller, car-based travel in the area is the dominant mode.
The regions roads are so much faster and by connecting to Margaret River to the south, the by-pass road lies just to the south, and you can travel to Margaret River without ‘going into’ Busselton, as you had to do in the past.
The town was on a beachside, and it spread, and spread, and now with the named location Dunsborough to the west, and wetlands to the east, it is a long spread out homage to the beachside environment. Because the town and its spread around the bay is all flat, it is an excellent bicycling area.
The original town next to the jetty remains busy and central for services.
In the 1970s an enterprising Perth based artist designed a t-shirt satirising the Western Australian tourist promotion of the time Relax in a State of Excitement with a reply, by putting on the rear of the t-shirt – A Billion flies cannot be wrong.
Busselton and the surrounds have in the past been captive to the swarm of bush flies that gather on the back, and around the eyes of the unwary. Hats with corks and nets hanging from them are good antidotes if you are otherwise unprepared for them.
Busselton – Top Places to See
- Busselton Jetty. The most famous feature of Busselton is the jetty. It long – very long; nearly 2 km in length. It was required by the shallowness of the bay, but fell into disrepair following the cessation of commercial shipping. The jetty has been restored for heritage and tourism purposes. Its railway used to be part of Western Australia’s rail network, connecting to the main line to Perth. These days, a small tourist train will take you to the end of the pier. There is an underwater observatory at the end of the pier. Silt in the bay can be whipped up by winds, and on windy days the observatory can close for poor visibility.
- Wonnerup House, ☏ +61 8 9752 2039. Closed for conservation. Wonnerup House was built in 1859 by the Layman family, the original settlers. The previous building built between 1837 and 1841 was destroyed by fire in 1858. The complex also includes the dairy and kitchen, which antedate the main house (and survived the fire of 1858 because they were separate buildings). Over the road are the Teacher’s House (1885) and School (1873). Since 1973, the National Trust of Australia has operated the property as a museum open to the public. Adult $10, student $7, child $5.
- Old Butter Factory/Busselton Museum, 76 Peel Terrace, Busselton, ☏ +61 8 9754 2166. 10am–4pm, Wednesday–Monday (closed Tuesdays). The Old Butter Factory was built in 1918 by the government Department of Agriculture to replace a previous privately owned dairy, Western Australia’s first butter factory and creamery, that was established in 1898. The factory also operated as an ice works for local residents and fishermen before the widespread availability of mechanical refrigeration. It ceased butter-making operations in 1952 and became a cream depot and dried milk plant, then a truck depot. In 1974 it was sold to the Shire of Busselton, which leased most of the building to the Busselton Historical Society; they opened the Busselton Museum there in 1975. In 2018, the building was heavily damaged by fire. the outside areas were re-opened in 2019 and the rest of the building was re-opened in 2020.
- St Mary’s (Church of England). Built in 1844–1845, it is believed to be the oldest stone church in Western Australia. John Molloy and John Garrett Bussell were the main forces behind the construction of the church. The church was not consecrated until 1848 and a clergyman was not attracted to the region for another decade. Alongside the church is a graveyard; some of the graves date back to 1841 – before the building of the church.
Things to do in Busselton
- Swimming, there is a swimming pier by the side of the main pier, close to shore.
- Snorkelling is good around the main pier.
- Tennis – nice old-fashioned grass tennis courts available to hire at the tennis centre by the water.
- Augusta-Busselton Heritage Trail. The trail retraces the Pioneer Route from Augusta to Busselton taken by the original settlers in the 1800s. It is over 100 km long, starting at the jetty and finishing in Augusta
If you feel like ice-cream, you have a choice of Simmos at the beach, or Gelato in town. The Gelato is homemade and relatively cheap, and they make their own chocolate spoons and bowls.