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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aerial view of busselton jetty a long wooden timber piled jetty
Busselton Jetty aerial view by Tourism Western Australia

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.

a blue wooden building over the water alongside the beach

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.

a blue wooden building with a sign reading interpretive centre
Busselton Jetty Interpretive Centre

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.

a red train that looks like a steam train on a wooden jetty
The Busselton Jetty train inspired Director Hayao Miyazaki to create the film Spirited Away 

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.

a seal under water
The seal we saw from the viewing window at Underwater Observatory

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.

fish and coral underwater

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.

Comprehensive Busselton Jetty Information plus Underwater Observatory Review
The end of Busselton Jetty by Tourism Western Australia

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.

Comprehensive Busselton Jetty Information plus Underwater Observatory Review
Busselton Beach and Jetty by Tourism Western Australia

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.

RAC Busselton

Big 4 Beachlands Holiday Park

Mandalay Holiday Resort & Tourist Park

Bayview Geographe Resort Busselton – we stayed in the 2 Bedroom Villa

Tours

Viator have a great range of tours that are competitively priced and offer free cancellation on most experiences.

FAQ

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

Eagle Bay Brewery is a great spot for lunch and a beer or head to Simmo’s to let the kids have a run around and an ice cream.

If you found our article helpful, please consider booking through one of our links. It won’t cost you anything but will help towards the cost of running this site. Thank you 🙂


Comprehensive Busselton Jetty Information plus Underwater Observatory Review

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14 Comments

  1. Another really interesting place to visit in your region, Wendy! The beauty of the setting and the history of the jetty are enough to lure me there, but I love the idea of the natural aquarium. I would definitely want to do this. Expensive perhaps, but knowing that the money goes into the upkeep of this facility makes it a justifiable expense. Part of responsible tourism to support ventures like this.

  2. This looks so cool! I’d love to experience this. I’m glad people raised funds to restore it too 🙂

    1. It would have been a shame to have lost a part of history.

  3. Nearly two kilometres, wow! I still remember visiting Brighton Palace Pier in England for the first time as a kid and thinking how it did not seem to have an end. It is barely over half a kilometre… Also, great views from the observatory. Enjoyed reading your post, Wendy.

    1. Thank you Stefan. It’s certainly a long one! I remember visiting Bright Pier for the first time as a kid too. Love it there.

  4. This looks so cool! It’s almost like scuba diving but without all those pesky safety things to remember! I would definitely do this, even though now I also dive. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Wendy!

    1. I have only done an intro dive so this was great for me! Thanks Becky.

  5. Wow! The jetty is so longgg. at first I didn’t catch the length, and then was like wait – why is there a train?? haha. The underwater observatory looks amazing… I really need to get to WA!!

  6. Vanessa Shields says:

    The jetty and observatory look so pretty and a wonderful place to spend the day! I love that it has so much history and they were able to keep it. As much as I love diving, I think it is neat to see marine life like in this setting too. Your posts are making me want to visit Australia more and more! 🙂

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