The French expedition of 1801 brought Nicholas Baudin, to the coast of Western Australia. Baudin named Geographe Bay and Cape Naturaliste after his vessels, Le Géographe and Le Naturaliste. The river Vasse after Thomas Vasse, a sailor who was lost overboard and believed drowned.
Busselton was one of the earliest settlements in Western Australia. It was first settled by the Bussell family after John Garrett Bussell discovered superior farm land in the area. The Bussells moved to the area in 1834, establishing a cattle station which they named Cattle Chosen.
The present name of Busselton derives from the Bussell family. It was first officially used in June 1835.
The original townsite was planned for Wonnerup, an area which was considered too wet and low lying. The Surveyor General of the day, John Septimus Roe recommended the present area.
Being in close proximity to the tall timber country, Busselton soon established itself as a leading port. In 1850 timber was being exported and this was followed by agricultural exports in 1858. A whaling industry was developed as American whalers realised that Geographe Bay was an abundant source of whales.
Jetties for these exports were built at Wonnerup, Busselton and Quindalup. Of these, only the Busselton Jetty remains. At nearly 2000 metres in length, this is one of the longest timber jetty structures in the world and has become the iconic symbol for Busselton.
Today the main industries in the Busselton area are dairying, beef cattle, sheep, wine, mining, timber, fishing, light industrial and tourism.
Busselton Jetty History
The Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, stretching almost 2 km out to sea and was built over a 95 year period beginning in 1865. The Jetty was the export point for the timber, whale and agricultural products with its growing length dictated by the increasingly shallow waters of Geographe Bay.
The first part of the jetty (176m) was built by Henry Yelverton for the princely sum of 180 pounds and was completed in 1865.
early 1870’s the Jetty was becoming inadequate as waters were
too shallow for the ships. In 1872 the first of numerous extensions
was made to the jetty due to the continual build up of sand in the
bay with the final length of the jetty reached in 1960.
The immense variety of fish and other marine species as well as the magnificent display of coloured corals, is a magnet for snorkellers, divers and for local fisherpersons trying their luck with the “:catch of the day”.
The Interpretive Centre, which opened in April 2001, houses a museum which allows visitors to learn about the Jetty’s past and future. There are changing exhibits of art, history and the marine environment. Unique souvenirs are available for purchase including timber products hand crafted from recycled jetty timbers. Under water marine life can also be viewed on Marine Cam.
The Underwater Observatory was opened in December 2003 after 10 years of planning and fund raising. Situated towards the end of the Jetty, it is one of Western Australia’s foremost eco-attractions. Up to 40 people at a time can view over 300 species of marine life which live 8 metres below Geographe Bay.
Busselton Heritage Park and Trail
Starting at corner of Peel Terrace and Causeway Road, the Heritage Park and Trail features a range of sculptures which aim to link the past and present. The Heritage Trail also includes the Aboriginal Interpretive Gardens, the Ballarat Steam Engine, St Mary’s Anglican Church and the Pioneer Cemetery. A free map is available from the Busselton and Dunsborough Visitor Centres.
"The Ballarat" Loco
was the first steam locomotive built in WA in 1871 at the cost of
800 pounds. It ran between Yoganup and Wonnerup hauling
timbers mainly used in the construction of the Jetty more than
St Mary’s Anglican Church
Mary’s Anglican Church, the oldest stone church in WA, is
constructed of limestone, jarrah and has a sheoak shingle
roof. Built in 1844 for early sttlers, it was consecrated in
1848. The graveyard contains many pioneer graves, including
that of the original settler of the area, John G Bussell.
The cemetery, which is situated on the corner of Marine Terrace and Stanley Street, has over 1,000 graves of many of the district’s early settlers.
Busselton Historic Museum
The Busselton Historic Museum is located in the Old Butter Factory (1918 – 1974) which was used as a creamery as well as supplying ice for the town. There are interesting displays of old photographs, antique clothing and furniture, farm machinery and butter and cheese making artifacts as well as a fully furnished Group house and school.
The Museum is open daily from 2 – 5 pm (closed Tuesdays) and there is an entry fee.
Courthouse Arts Centre
Built in 1854, the Old Courthouse complex was Busselton’s first centre for dispensing the law. The original building consisted of a courtroom, jail cells, post office, sergeant’s quarters and bond store. Nowadays, the building is in the process of being restored and is used for art classes, workshops and the ArtGeo Gallery, with the jail cells as a grim reminder of its past.
The Complex is open daily.
early colonial farmhouse and dairy has been beautifully restored
and is surrounded by pretty gardens. Newtown House now has a
restaurant and bed and breakfast accommodation.
The Wonnerup House Settlement was first settled by the Layman family in 1834 and gives us an important insight into early farming methods and lifestyle. The original house (later converted to a dairy) was built in 1837 and Wonnerup Homestead was built in 1859. These buildings, as well as a kitchen, stables, blacksmith, teacher’s house and school have all been carefully restored with many original items and furniture displayed.
Wonnerup House Settlement is located 10 km north of Busselton and
is open daily (closed Monday and Tuesday) from 10 am –
4pm. There is an entry fee.