The Busselton Jetty and Underwater Observatory

Imagine walking nearly two kilometres out into the ocean, and then descending 8 metres onto the seabed.  This is all possible on the Busselton Jetty, where power walkers can beat expensive power cruisers.

The Busselton Jetty and Interpretive Centre.

The Busselton Jetty and Interpretive Centre.

Construction of the Busselton Jetty commenced in 1853, to establish a docking platform for visiting American whaling ships.  A more substantial structure was built in 1865, as the shipping trade had increased. Horse drawn trucks were originally used to shift cargo between the mainland.  Timber and farm products were hauled out to the ships. Goods and passengers were then collected to be returned to the mainland. 

Visitors in the Underwater Observatory.
 

Visitors in the Underwater Observatory.

The Busselton Jetty - 1841 metres long.

A 1841 metre walk out to the end, and even
 longer on the way back if you don't catch any fish.

However the jetty just kept getting longer.  So in 1911, a connecting railway jetty was built to make the journey easier.   Drift sand in the bay had shallowed the water depth beneath the jetty, necessitating major extensions in 1875.  Extensions continued right up until the 1960's.  Then in 1972, after more than a century of shipping service, the jetty was finally closed.

 

The structure at the end is the Underwater Observatory.

 

Remember to turn right at the railway junction.

 
 

The longest wooden structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

Any longer, and you would need an international passport to go fishing.

 

A Turn For The Worse:  After closing in 1972, the jetty was no longer maintained, and the rot set in.  So did attacking woodborers, and the odd fire.  On April 4th, 1978, Cyclone Alby destroyed a 580 metre section between the shore, and the railway jetty junction.  This explains why the jetty seems to take a strange right turn out at sea.  Fortunately some local towns folk recognised the historical significance of the jetty, and what a great money spinner it would be for Busselton.  Funds were raised, and the jetty was partially restored.  After many good years of enjoyment, a structural stability report was presented to the Busselton Shire Council on April Fools Day 2009. It suggested the jetty was very dodgy beyond the 200 metre mark.  From April 2nd 2009, the jetty was closed off at the 200 metre mark, just 1641 metres shy of the end.  Fortunately the restoration work is now completed, and people can once more enjoy the long walk out to the end.

 

Reef fish rounding a jetty pylon.

The jetty is an impressive 1841 metres long, and takes about 25 minutes to walk at a leisurely pace.  During the 2010 closure Usain Bolt could have reached the end in a paltry 19.30 seconds.

The Busselton  Jetty  is used by fisherpersons, power walkers, and tourists visiting the  Underwater Observatory.   

Reef fish rounding a jetty pylon.

 

Tickets to the Underwater Observatory must be purchased at the Interpretive Centre, located at the entrance to the jetty.  If you forget to pre-purchase your ticket,  you will have to complete an impressive 7.364 km's of jetty walking to set things right.  That excludes any swimming components should you fall off.

School fish in a hurry to class.
 

School fish in a hurry to class.

Scuba diver lurking around the jetty pylons.

The Underwater Observatory is a 9.5 metre diameter chamber that descends 8 metres to the seabed.  Viewing windows are located at various levels on the way down, allowing visitors to marvel at the colour of the aquatic life.  Being located in the open ocean, anything could swim into view. 
 

NOTE: Please talk quietly in the observatory, as the fish are sensitive to both noise and criticism.

Scuba diver lurking around the jetty pylons.

 
Diver annoying some school fish.   Viewing decks are located on all levels.
Diver annoying some school fish.   Viewing decks are located on all levels.

Bright coral on a jetty pylon.

More than 300 different species of marine life have been recorded beneath the jetty.  Bright coral growth would not normally occur this far south, as the water is generally too cold at these latitudes (33 degrees south). However the Leeuwin Current brings a band of warm water down south, which encourages a rich diversity of marine life.  

Bright coral on a jetty pylon at the cool and somewhat trendy, latitude of 33 degrees south.

 
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