Have you ever been to the longest wooden pier in the southern hemisphere? It's Busselton Jetty near Margaret River in Western Australia, and it extends 1.8km out to sea.
Set over the scintillating cerulean waters of Geographe Bay, this timber piled jetty was built in 1853. A jetty of this length was necessary because the waters here are so shallow, ships couldn't come in to load and unload goods for the settlement.
Today it's a total beach destination, what with the gloriously fine sandy beaches and warm temperatures. Lots of activities abound! From trampolines to open air concerts, this place draws many locals and tourists alike.
The Busselton Jetty Swim 2015 was in full swing when we visited. This international event draws close to 2000 people competing in the jetty swim. The blistering heat made us crave some Simmo`s Ice Cream but there were just too many people.
Can you see how far the jetty stretches? You can barely make out the end building, which is an underwater observatory. It takes about 25 minutes to walk to the end and back. Technically, it's much longer than the Singapore-Johor Causeway (1.05km)!
But fret not, there's an easier way to make 1.8km trek. A jetty train!
BUSSELTON JETTY TRAIN
Seriously, a miniature steam-engine replica, painted bright red, will take you on a leisurely ride, passing the incredibly beautiful waters. It is the best sun protection you will have on the jetty. If you try to walk, you will be sunburnt!
Still, there are plenty of people who take the jetty day pass to jump and swim in the waters at sections along the jetty that had steps leading back up. Wouldn't you want to jump in too?
And if you're a fan of marine life, you might like to take a peek at the underwater observatory at the end of the pier.
The Underwater Observatory (UWO) is only accessible via a guided tour. It takes about 40 visitors at a time, and you'll need to book tickets for it before you board the jetty train. At the small observatory, you'll walk a spiral staircase down 8m into the waters, with a guide who explains some of the history and what you see at each step of the way.
Children are particularly fascinated by the sights, from above water to below.
The corals can be quite pretty if the water's not murky.
There are some resident fish. Two batfish are always nearby, one of whom is nicknamed Fatty Batty. I also spotted an octopus, but it's pretty small and camouflages well.
Jetty Adult Day Pass – AU$3.00 (+17 years)
Jetty Child Day Pass – Free (0-16 years)
JETTY TRAIN RIDE
Adults – AU$12.00 (+15 years)
Child – AU$6.00 (3-14 years)
Infants – Free (must sit on adult’s lap)
The train departs the interpretive centre on the hour. Ticket include return trip and Jetty Day pass. Bookings recommended. Duration: approx. 45minutes
Adult – AU$32.00 (+15 years)
Child – AU$15.00 (3-14 years)
Family Pass – AU$85.00 (2 adults, 2 children)
Ticket includes return train ride, 40min guided tour of the Underwater Observatory and a Jetty Day Pass. Extra children $5 per child, max of 2. Departs: On the hour. Duration: Approx. 1 hour, 45 minutes
Busselton Jetty is operated by a non- profit community organisation known as BJECA (Busselton Jetty Environment and Conservation Association). All profits contribute to jetty maintenance and improvements.
THE GOOSE BEACH BAR AND KITCHEN
The Goose looks to be THE dining spot on the beach. It looks really modern, so you wouldn't guess it was first built in 1998.
This must be what Busselton Jetty looked like in the old days.
The menu is casual bistro fare with some breakfast items as highlights. For appetisers, go for the WA Pickled Octopus (AU$13.50), nicely done a la plancha and lightly pickled. They also specially made some beetroot cured salmon and cream cheese canapes for us.
The Spicy Grilled Chorizo (AU$12.50) with Lemon was another item that kept us all reaching for it repeatedly. It was like a comfortingly salty bak kwa or Chinese sausage for us.
The Calamari with Udon Noodles (AU$27.50) came with Asian herbs and sweet ginger dressing. It looked really promising, and the portion is huge. But for all its bright colours, it was really mild. I had been hoping it would have a tangy and spicy dressing - like those Thai-style salads - but that was not to be. Still, it was refreshing, and the calamari strands were huge.
Crab Fettuccine Pasta (AU$38.50), topped with shredded shark bay crab and tossed with herb butter, was also another huge dish that was pretty mild tasting. The acidity from tomato, lemon and capers didn't cut through the heavy dish. But carb lovers probably will inhale it anyway. I'm not a pasta fan, so I can't judge.
The Margaret River Beef Burger (AU$26.50) has a patty with melted Swiss cheese, zucchini, pickles, "fat hippo" relish, and fat chips.
It's a casual place with lots of warm wood and nautical accents. For drinks, there is a list of local wines by the glass, cocktails and a large selection of craft beers and ciders.
But honestly, the best thing about the restaurant is the unbeatable beach view!
Geographe Bay Road
Busselton (Next to the Jetty)
WA 6280, Australia
Contact: +61 (8) 9754 7700
Open daily: Breakfast menu 7am-11am; All day menu 11.30am-9pm
I hear the sunrise and sunset scenes at Busselton are breathtaking. Maybe next time I'll stay overnight and check it out.
More coverage coming up for this Western Australia trip, as we head to Margaret River and Pullman Bunker Bay Resort! Check the link for stories on Perth and the Novotel Vines Resort too.
This media trip was made possible by Accor Asia Pacific, Scoot and Tourism Western Australia