Busselton is a prominent city within Western Australia’s South West region. Founded in 1832 by the Bussell family, the city is home to the longest wooden structure in the world and has a population of just over 25,000 people. Enjoying a warm, Mediterranean-style climate, Busselton’s calm, turquoise bay is one of the most coveted areas for residents looking to buy in Western Australia.
Just a short hop from the Margaret River wine region and a quick drive up to Perth, this iconic town has culture, an idyllic foreshore, vibrant eateries and bars and a thriving real estate property market. Here’s the lowdown on Busselton’s history, must-see attractions and must-attend events.
History of Busselton
Busselton was one of Western Australia’s earliest settlements. First settled by the Bussell family, the township was first planned and surveyed in 1836. Being in close proximity to ‘tall timber country’, Busselton soon established itself as a leading port in the state, and by the early 20th century, Busselton became well known as a resort town.
The city of Busselton maintains its reputation as a haven for holidaymakers today but is also a fantastic location for retirees and permanent residents. By 1996, Busselton had cemented itself as one of the fastest-growing areas in Western Australia with an annual growth rate of five per cent.
Things to do in Busselton
- Explore the iconic Busselton Jetty
At just over 1.8 kilometres long, the Busselton Jetty offers the incredibly unique opportunity to traverse out onto the picturesque Geographe Bay. Open from 8:30am to 6pm every day, it takes around 25 minutes to walk the length of the jetty. Or if you’d rather a quirkier way of getting to the jetty’s end, hop on the small red train that transports passengers back and forth every day.
The jetty is also home to an Underwater Observatory that offers a glimpse at what inhabits the floor of Geographe Bay. Here you will have an unprecedented, 360-degree view of the bay’s artificial reef, tropical and sub-tropical corals, sponges, invertebrates and other natural wonders. Tours of the Underwater Observatory depart on the hour from the Interpretive Centre at the base of the jetty.
- Visit the ArtGeo Cultural Complex
ArtGeo is a creative hub for visual and performing arts on Busselton’s cherished foreshore. The buildings within the hub include an art gallery, workshops and a historic Courthouse – one of Busselton’s oldest buildings that played an important role in the town’s settlement and growth. The complex is a great place to explore night markets, openair concerts, art exhibitions, artist talks and more.
The complex also offers Heritage Tours that guide visitors through the 158-year-old heritage listed buildings. These tours run almost weekly – and for those looking for something a little spooky, a ‘Horrendous Histories’ tour runs during limited times of the year.
- Explore the Tuart Forest National Park
You’ll find Tuart Drive just north of Busselton – a route that famously loops through the world’s last remaining tuart forest. This magnificent forest boasts large mobs of kangaroos, a spread of wildflowers and an understorey of massive peppermint trees. The wetland boardwalk is a great place to catch some of the park’s birdlife and other fauna, including native waterbirds, frogs and reptiles.
The park is famed for its possum night spotlighting trail. This easy, one-hour walk begins at the Layman picnic site and is designed to be self-guided – so you’ll come face to face with the forest’s nocturnal inhabitants with your torchlight. You’re most likely to find the rare western ringtail possum and the more common brushtail possum in the area. Reflective trail markers will guide your way.
Annual events in Busselton
- Busselton Jetty Swim
The historic 3.6-kilometre Busselton Jetty Swim takes place every February and serves as a celebration of Busselton’s iconic jetty and foreshore. An estimated 7,500 spectators descend upon the foreshore for the event each year, with approximately 3,000 competitors hitting the water and vying to take out the top prize. As well as the main event, there’s also music, entertainment, a skateboard exhibition, a twilight carbo meal and family beach games on offer during the weekend-long event.
Set in the Busselton, Bunbury, Dunsborough and Margaret River regions, CinefestOZ is an annual five-day film festival showcasing a line-up of both national and international films. The festival was established in 2008 as a cultural celebration of the French bicentenary of Antipodean exploration in WA’s South West. Since then, many incredible Australian filmmakers, talent and audiences have been in attendance at this coveted festival.
- Busselton Fringe Festival
Running for a week in various Busselton venues each February, the Busselton Fringe Festival is a feast of street theatre, stand-up comedy, circus, dance, musical theatre, burlesque, cabaret and much more. Along with sublime theatrical experiences, attendees can expect pop up bars, delicious local eats and an array of local live music acts.
- Ironman Triathlon
Western Australia’s Ironman Triathlon has taken place in Busselton since 2004. With 40 qualifying slots for the Ironman World Championship up for grabs, this electrifying annual event welcomes hundreds of spectators to the pristine Geographe Bay for the swimming portion, to the Tuart Forest for the bike leg and to the Busselton Foreshore for the final run. The Ironman is particularly special as it is the largest Ironman event in the entire southern hemisphere.
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