Busselton is a coastal town a few hours’ drive south of Perth. It is only 20kms away from Dunsborough, which is further west. Both places are great to visit, and allow for maximum protection for anything that you want to do. Busselton is a little more in the open, but has many attractions that Dunsborough doesn’t, and is considerably larger. Busselton is a town that doesn’t rely so much on tourism, but it is a very popular place. Many people call Busselton their homes, and as a result there are plenty of jobs and amenities to cater for the population.
Where is Busselton?
Busselton is about a two and a half hour drive from Perth. With the new Perth to Bunbury highway, this trip is a breeze. The new highway is smooth, and ranges in between 100 and 110km/h. There are no traffic lights, and much less to crash into if it all turns pear shaped. Be aware that the police are usually on this highway in at least one location, so if you don’t follow the speed limits you are likely to get caught! The easiest way to Busselton is to get onto the Kwinana freeway and follow it south. This joins onto the Forrest Hwy (the new Perth to Bunbury highway) which continues onto the original highway leading into Bunbury. From Bunbury, you just follow the main signs (they are really obvious).
Probably the most known feature in Busselton is the jetty. This is 1.8km long, and several metres tall, off the water. It until recently, it was used every day by fishermen and tourists alike. A small tram would drive out to the end and come back in, and for a few dollars you could hitch a ride. There was a cost to get onto the jetty before 6pm, to help raise money. However, in the last few months the jetty was deemed unsafe and has been shut. Due to it being so popular with the locals and tourists, money has been committed to fixing it up. It has always been a great walk to the end of it, and when the jetty is re furbished then it should be great fun again.
The Busselton Jetty would always yield some interesting fish, and given the length of it there was opportunity to catch anything! Squid, herring, whiting, leatherjackets, salmon, yellow tail kingfish, mulloway, small sharks and rays and a huge assortment of random fish that swim by. It can be difficult getting the fish up on top of the jetty, but with a bit of practice it does get easier. Given that the jetty has had several months to recover I would expect the fishing to be quite good when it is re opened. Just before the jetty was closed, an underwater observatory was built at the end, and a man made reef was placed around it. This is closed until February 2010 due to the restoration.
Busselton Fun Park
Just next to the start of the Busselton Jetty, there is a little fun park known as the Nautical Lady Entertainment World. This has mini golf, several water slides, a skate park, trampolines, flying fox and several other little bits and pieces. We have been to this a few times, and although it is rather old it is a good way to spend a day. It can be quite expensive if you want to go on all of the rides, but it is well worth a look. This stands out a lot; there is a tower which stands up rather tall with two slides that twist around it. When we were there, the skatepark was only designed for use by people on rollerblades, rollerskates and skateboards.
Up until the Busselton jetty was shut, it was one of the best places to visit to get a line wet. You can fish anywhere along the many beaches, and will often be rewarded with a decent feed of herring and whiting (other bigger fish lurk around too, but you might need to pick your spots and burly up a bit!). Other good fishing locations in Busselton can be found by going either west or east along the coast. You can catch fish anywhere on the beaches in this area, but you may need to use a bit of burley to bring the fish around. Fishing on calm flat beaches will often get you a good feed of whiting, king George and Herring. If you have a boat, just head out from the shore until you find a lumpy spot and drift over it, or anchor. There are some impressive fish that come in from this area; so be prepared with your fishing tackle!
Busselton underwater observatory
The Busselton underwater observatory has been around now quite a while. Whilst the jetty is being restored it is shut, and is expected to open in February 2010. The reef is artificial, and it said to be one of the best in Western Australia. It is located 1.8km offshore, and can hold up to 40 people. The observatory goes down 8 metres underwater, and shows a huge range of corals and other marine life. Tickets can be purchased from the information centre at the start of the Jetty.
Accommodation at Busselton
Busselton is not a small town. It’s not huge, but there are shops that will have literally anything that you need. What this means is that the accommodation ranges from tent sites in caravan parks through to five star resorts right on the beach. For a cheap holiday that is very enjoyable, staying at a caravan park on the beach is a good start. You can get a tent site for a steal each night, and many of them are found within a few metres of the beach. If you want a bit more luxury, then you can stay in a chalet in one of the many caravan parks. Alternatively, there are a number of holiday homes which can be rented out and are often more viable in terms of the number of people that you can sleep and the quality of what’s provided is usually better. You can find a few of the Busselton Holiday Homes by just typing that exact phrase into Google!
Busselton is spread over a fairly big area. There are a huge number of fishing, sports, surf and outdoor shops, a number of fish and chip shops, several larger grocery stores, plenty of different restaurants, bakeries, butchers, mechanics, boat shops and anything else that you might need. There are quite a large number of locals which the town caters for, which explains why it is so well set up. Most of the shops are located within a few hundred metres of the beach, and are spread around the Busselton Jetty area. There are a few other little convenience stores scattered around the place too, so you will never have an issue finding what you need.
Places around Busselton
The best thing about Dunsborough is that you can hide on one or the other side of the point (away from the weather). Usually the wind blows from the east or the west, and you just hide on the opposite side of the point, away from the wind. Bunker Bay is on the east side of the point, and is a great place to visit. There are multiple holiday homes along this part of the coast (eagle bay too) as well as a few hotels. Bear in mind though that this is prime real-estate, and as such is quite expensive to stay at.
You are better off staying in Dunsborough itself, as you will save quite a few dollars. It is still expensive in Dunsborough, but you can get a nice house that sleeps 9 – 16 for $250 a night if you shop around. When you divide the cost up between a few families it actually works out to a very feasible place to stay. Dunsborough has some of the best beaches in the south west of Western Australia, with beautiful colours and calm waters. The fishing and spear fishing is exceptional along this part of the coast too.
Yallingup is a tiny coastal town on the west side of the point. It is popular for surfing and fishing, and has some great reefs to enjoy. Close to Yallingup lies Smiths Beach, Canal Rocks and Margaret River. These are all stunning places to visit, with amazing snorkelling, fishing and boating. It is however, a dangerous place in the wrong weather and especially dangerous if you go to the wrong place at the wrong time!
Overall, this part of Western Australia is stunning. If you haven’t visited it before, I would highly recommend Busselton, Dunsborough and Smiths Beach. You will have a lot of fun, and there is plenty of space to relax. The area is boat friendly too, so haul yours down if you have one! Above all, Busselton is just one of many places which are well worth a visit.
Smiths Beach is a great location, just south west of Busselton. It has very limited accommodation and other ammenities, but is an amazing beach to spend a few days at. Smiths Beach has good fishing, snorkeling, surfing and a stunning beach to relax on
Margaret River is an amazing place just south of Smiths Beach. It has some of the best surfing in the world, along with good snorkeling and fishing. Body boarders love many of the breaks, and then there is hundreds of vineyards and restaurants, along with the Chocolate Factory, Cheese Factory and a number of other tourist attractions (like the Margaret River Caves).