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Monday, June 1, 2009

Busselton, Western Australia

The jetty curves around to the right

Farmers organic market

Underwater observatory

I like the town of Busselton very much and could easily live here. It has a vibrant commercial centre and it's well laid out with lots of recreational areas right on the waterfront. Apart from tourism, the other main industries in the Shire are dairying, beef cattle, sheep, wine, mining, timber, fishing and light industry.

The town is named after the Bussel family who were among the original settlers. In 1850 timber was being exported and Busselton soon established itself as a leading port. All the old jetties in the area have long gone but the Busselton jetty is the town's pride and joy. At almost 2 kilometres long (1800 metres), it's one of the longest timber jetty structures in the world.

On the 4th April 1978 Cyclone Alby almost destroyed the jetty. The town bandied together and decided they wanted to save it and 31 years later, more than nine million dollars has been raised for restoration and development. The state government has promised another 24 million dollars towards the project in 2009/2010 so the Bussselton jetty will be around for many generations to come.

The 3.6 million dollar underwater observatory at the end of the jetty is a master stroke with 11 viewing windows at various levels within a 9.5 metre diameter chamber. It even has a lift so that people of all ages can enjoy the experience.

The Leeuwin current sends a narrow band of warm water down the WA coastline which brings with it all sorts of tropical and sub-tropical marine life. This results in coral growth which is unheard of this far south anywhere else in the world and 300 different species of fish and coral have been recorded under the jetty so far. Unfortunately at the time of our visit, the jetty was closed for renovation and upgrade.