Brendon takes the slow route on a long pier where you can go to sea by train!
The little town of Busselton, on the shores of Geographe Bay, two-and-a-half hours south of Perth, has twice been named Western Australia's top tourist town. Its crystal-clear waters and relaxed lifestyle were big players in winning that award, but it has many other assets.
Here you can visit the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, in one of Australia's most unique eco-tourism sites. The heritage-listed jetty extends almost two kilometres into the protected waters of Geographe Bay and is home to the newly-opened underwater observatory.
A jarrah jetty was built in 1853 and in 1865 a rough wooden jetty became available to ships from many parts of the world. Square-rigged American whaling ships arrived and coastal traders bustled in and out. Drift sand shallowed the depth and in 1875 the jetty was extended 130 metres, giving a depth of three-and-a-half metres at low tide. Further additions were made until the 1960s.
Closed as a port in 1972, the 138-year-old jetty has been ravaged by fire, Cyclone Alby, borers and rot, but survives thanks to wonderful support from the local community and the 200,000-plus visitors who stroll its length each year, paying a nominal amount to do so. It is open 24 hours a day and is seen as a monument to the spirit and commitment of the Busselton community.
Visitors board a jetty train, which leaves every hour. Four-person carriages take 40 people at a time in a small toy-like train which has been running since 1995. Once at the end of the jetty, some people are happy to snorkel or dive among schools of fish and tropical coral. Others go eight metres below sea level in the observatory.
It took 10 years to plan and raise the funds for this wonderful attraction. The diameter is 9.5 metres and visitors enjoy the coral and fish life through 11 viewing windows. A lift for wheelchairs means no-one is excluded from enjoying the 300 varieties of marine organisms and the profusion of fish that are visible.