I’ve lost count of the number of times we have walked along Busselton Jetty, but it was only recently that we visited the Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory.
The jetty, which runs over the protected waters of Geographe Bay, is the longest timber piled jetty in the southern hemisphere at 1841m long. It’s a popular place for weddings, diving, and swimming. For example, the Busselton Jetty Swim (an internationally recognised event) attracts 3,000 competitors.
Busselton Jetty is a popular tourist attraction with about 200,000 visitors each year and is operated by a non-profit community organisation known as Busselton Jetty Inc. It’s a must-see for any visitor to the area.
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Location of Busselton Jetty
Busselton is in the South West region of Western Australia, less than a two and a half-hour drive from Perth.
History of the Busselton Jetty
Construction of Busselton Jetty began in 1864, with the first section open the following year. It has been extended many times since its first opening.
The last commercial vessel to use the jetty was in 1971, and it was closed a year later. The jetty then deteriorated due to wood bores, fires, and rot.
In 1978, a cyclone partly destroyed the jetty, and the government wanted to demolish it.
The community came to the rescue, raising funds to restore it, and a community not for profit organisation was formed.
The WA State Government gave $24m towards the complete restoration of the jetty in 2009 along with $3.1m from the City of Busselton.
Does it cost money to walk on Busselton Jetty?
Yes, if you are over 16, you have to pay a fee of A$4 for a Jetty Day Pass to walk along Busselton Jetty. The day pass is available to purchase when the Interpretive Centre is open and gives you access to dive, fish, swim or walk the jetty.
The walk takes about 25 minutes each way.
Prams, walkers, wheelchairs and mobility scooters are allowed on the jetty, but the train needs to pass.
Interpretive Centre – Busselton Jetty
This iconic blue building sitting at the start of Busselton Jetty is where you can book your tickets for the train and underwater observatory. It also has a wide range of souvenirs at a reasonable price (I have bought presents from here) and essentials like sunscreen.
Busselton Jetty Train
The jetty train runs the length of the jetty, ferrying visitors back and forth. It was started as a fundraiser back in 1995 and is still going.
The red electric train is powered by 30 solar panels, keeping it on the move for four days. There are 90 seats on the train, with 6 in each carriage.
The return train journey is around 45 minutes, but you can get off and walk to the very end of the pier before going back.
The train journey price on its own is A$14 for an adult, A$8.50 for children (3-17), and A$38 for a family of 2A + 2C. You can use these tickets as a Jetty Pass, which allows you access to the jetty all day.
Select the Wheelchair option if you require your wheelchair or walking frame during the Jetty Train ride or Underwater Observatory. Unfortunately, prams are not allowed on the train due to space confinement, so a baby carrier is recommended.
Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory Review
Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory, opened in 2003, is one of only six natural aquariums globally and is now a popular tourist attraction. However, you can only access it via a tour which operates every hour on the hour and lasts about one hour and forty-five minutes.
The Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory Tour includes the return journey by train; keep a look out over the Indian Ocean for any dolphins or whales (if in season).
You are met off the train by a tour guide who gives a short briefing before heading down to start the guided tour.
There are six flights of stairs to descend (8m below sea level), but a lift is available if required.
At each level, the tour guide stops to explain what you can see through the observatory windows – tropical corals, sponges, fish, crabs and you might even be able to spot a seal or two. There are 11 viewing windows, all large enough to see the marine life in their natural habitat.
As numbers are limited to 44 on each tour, you always get access to the windows (there is plenty of allocated time at the end to return to the windows above if you missed something previously).
Once the tour has finished, you can spend longer at the end of the pier before your return train journey.
Prices are A$34 per adult, A$20 per child (3-17) and A$99 for a family (2ad +2ch). Book online with Busselton Jetty.
The New Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory
It was announced at the end of 2020 that the new Australian Underwater Discovery Centre (AUDC) would replace the existing underwater observatory. The semi-submerged whale-shaped building would have a higher capacity than the current one, with larger viewing windows offering panoramic views of the jetty’s ecosystem. The hope is to add underwater dining, underwater sculptures, and marine art, which will enhance Busselton Jetty’s 155-year-old experience.
Unfortunately, due to construction costs rising dramatically, the project is uncertain. The initial forecast of A$32m has blown out to A$49m, making the BJI Board and senior staff investigate all options to see if the project can go ahead.
Busselton Jetty Museum
The Jetty Museum, inside the Interpretive Centre, has two interactive timelines that have touch control with stories, photos, and videos. It is free to enter.
Busselton Jetty Dive
Busselton Jetty is a popular recreational dive spot that allows you to experience the diverse marine life amongst the pylons. The water depth is a maximum of 9 meters and you can easily access it from the jetty without a boat.
If you don’t have your dive ticket, you can still enjoy this adventure by snorkelling or the SeaTREK ® undersea walk (a custom-made ‘breathe-easy’ helmet has been designed to let you breathe completely naturally underwater). Busselton Jetty Undersea Walk is one of the first seabed walks globally to operate without a compressor or air hose.
Deep Sea Pool
Busselton Jetty’s universal access platform has an Ocean Guardian electrical shark barrier installed around it, powered by the same technology subsidised by the WA State Government for diving and surfing.
The world’s first virtual shark net emits electromagnetic pulses that deter sharks and manta rays but do not harm them or other marine life, creating a protected swim, snorkel and scuba dive area.
There’s a pontoon within the Deep Sea Pool in summer too and lockers are available at the Underwater Observatory.
My thoughts on the Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory
So is the Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory worth the price? I believe it is. We did put off going as initially we thought it was quite a lot to pay for a family. However, I think you get a great experience for the price, and it is nice to support a piece of history.
I like that it’s a not-for-profit organisation, so the money goes into the upkeep of the jetty. It is also eco-friendly with the solar run train, and no marine animals are kept in captivity.
It’s an excellent chance for a non-diver to see what it’s like to be 8m under the ocean surface.
Where To Stay in Busselton
We’ve stayed at the following places and can recommend them. I use Booking.com (links below) as they often offer free cancellation or direct with the camp site if camping.
Bayview Geographe Resort Busselton – we stayed in the 2 Bedroom Villa
Viator have a great range of tours that are competitively priced and offer free cancellation on most experiences.
Can you walk along the Busselton jetty at night?
Yes, you can walk along Busselton Jetty at night. When the Interpretive Centre is closed, admission is free. However, access to the final 150 m of the jetty is only possible during the Underwater Observatory Operating Hours.
What is at the end of the Busselton Jetty?
Towards the end of Busselton Jetty is the Underwater Observatory. The last part of the jetty features a mural of a life-sized whale, a selfie direction dial, and a wind vane. It’s also a great place to spot wildlife.
Other Things To Do in Busselton
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