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Published February 8th 2013
Take a train out to sea, explore underwater & stay dry
The Busselton Jetty has had more than its share of trials and tribulations over the years. Deterioration started as maintenance was suspended when it was closed in 1972. It was partially destroyed by Cyclone Albie in 1978 and again by fire in 1999. Fortunately it was rebuilt every time and it serves today as a historical monument and a popular place for recreational fishing and swimming as well a major tourist destination.
The jetty was originally built in 1865 when Geographe Bay was an important port for timber, whalers and agricultural shipping.
Initially only 161 metres long, over the next 90 years it was extended out into the shallow bay until it reached the present length of 1,841 metres or 1.8 kilometres.
Today the heritage-listed jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere and every effort has been made to ensure that visitors have an entertaining and informative visit.
The Interpretive Centre at the landward end of the jetty was opened in 2001. Designed to resemble a series of boatsheds, it contains a gift shop as well as the Cultural Heritage Museum. Entry is free and tickets to the train and observatory can be purchased.
The gift shop has a marine theme and offers a selection of crafts and souvenirs, while the museum contains exhibitions of photos, artefacts and audio visual displays detailing the past of the jetty, the local area and marine life. There's no commentary on the train so it's worth taking the time to absorb some of the history before departing for the journey to the end of the jetty
In 2011, after extensive repairs and renovation to the jetty, the Jetty Train resumed operation. It was originally a cargo train and opened as a tourist attraction in 1995 to raise funds for the Busselton Jetty Environment and Conservation Association (BJECA). It was immediately popular and remains so today.
The train takes 50 people on the short trip to the Underwater Observatory. Along the way you'll pass daredevil swimmers getting ready to jump off the jetty edge, birds, people fishing (with some showing off their catch) and dozens of walkers.
Though the jetty is high above the surface, the water is so clear that schools of fish can frequently be spotted. The jetty was originally built with no handrails and on one side this is still the case. On the other there's a series of plaques dedicated to people who spent their lives working, conserving or otherwise involved with the jetty.
Bookings are strongly advised due to the popularity of the Jetty Train.
The Underwater Observatory opened in 2003. It's small but offers a fascinating insight into the local marine environment. The only way to see it is on a guided tour which can be purchased as a package with the Jetty Train.
The guide takes the group 60 steps down a spiral staircase to the sea floor, with a landing and viewing window every 10 steps. Each window shows a different habitat, from the surface, to the tidal zone, a metre below the surface and so on to the bottom.
On the different levels you'll see tropical and sub-tropical corals, sponges, and fish of all sizes. The guides are knowledgeable and happy to identify the various species and since the end of the jetty is a no fishing zone there's an amazing variety of fish to watch. After a walk down of about 20 minutes there's another half-hour for leisurely viewing or a walk to the very end of the jetty before catching the train back.
If stairs are a problem the Underwater Observatory also has a lift.