On our recent weekend away in Busselton, we decided to do the Underwater Observatory tour at the iconic Busselton Jetty. You need to allow about 2 hours to complete the tour. We were there for the first tour of the day at 9am and it was pretty popular.
The tour we did included a return Jetty Train ride, a guided tour of the Observatory and a Jetty Day Pass. There are other tours you can do on the Jetty or you can just buy a walk pass and walk along the Jetty.
While we waited for the train we did walk a little way down the Jetty and browsed the souvenir shop and the Interpretive Centre. The Interpretive Centre has information on the history of the Jetty, old pieces of the wooden Jetty and old equipment. This is also where you buy the tickets for the Jetty tour.
The train departs from the platform outside the Interpretive Centre, there are several benches to wait on. The Stocker Express train can seat up to 90 people and is the electric train that takes you on the 1.7km journey out to sea. The 152 year old jetty is the longest wooden piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere.
The train leaves on the hour and takes about 10 minutes to reach the end of the jetty. The carriage seats six people but due to the small size of the carriages, prams and strollers are not permitted. There is some audio along the way highlighting significant points or history. There were quite a few small children and families in our group and all the children, including our daughter, seemed to enjoy the train ride.
Once we reached the end of the jetty we disembarked and entered the Underwater Observatory. The guides meet you inside and will take through the different levels. At each level, they will stop and talk about points of interest on that level and fish you might see. The stairs are a spiral staircase so you are encouraged to hold young children’s hands if they can’t reach the rail.
The first level is the “Intertidal Zone” and is inhabited by barnacles, mussels, oysters and crabs, which can withstand the harsh conditions when exposed when the tide is down. This level gives you a good look at the pylons and structure holding the jetty up.
The next level down is the “Shallow Subtidal Zone. This zone is affected by wave action and currents. Hard corals and orange tubular bryozoans live in this zone. You can see the water moving against the pylons and start to feel underwater.
The third level is the “Mid-water Zone”. The wave action is moderated at this level and is dominated by soft corals, sponges, bryozoans and the fish that live on them. Some of the pylons are very colourful and there was a range of fish swimming around.
The final level, “Basal Zone” is 8 metres beneath the size and you can see the base of the pylons and the debris on the ocean floor. On this level, there was a kids table and chairs with some books. Once the group reaches the bottom the tour finishes and you can climb back to the top in your own time. The viewing windows can be quite crowded on the way down so it is nice to be able to walk back at you own pace and take time to look through the viewing windows spotting fish.
Our daughter enjoyed seeing the different fish, especially the small colourful ones that reminded her of Nemo and Dory. During the tour, the guide encourages the children to sit around the viewing window so they can see.
Once you have finished exploring the Observatory you can take the short walk to the very end of the jetty. This section was quite interesting as it had a mural of three different life-size whales. At the very end was a directional dial pointing out the distances to various states in Australia or overseas countries.
The tour includes the return ride back to the Interpretive Centre but you could walk back if you wanted to. If you did walk back there is seating along the way, a drinking fountain and a bollard trivia trail along the way. We caught the train back.
We enjoyed the morning spent at the jetty. Our 4 year old enjoyed the train ride and seeing under the sea. She asked lots of questions afterwards in relation to things she had heard on the audio during the train ride.
Nearby the jetty are several places for food, coffee or ice cream. There is a swimming area just to the side of the jetty or a bit further down is a playground.
Queen St, Busselton
Open 9am to 6pm daily
The Underwater Observatory Tour is $90.50 for a family pass or $34.00per adult and $17.00 per child (3-14 years).
Jetty Train (Return Ticket) is $13.50 per adult (15+) and $6.75 per child (3-14 years).
Jetty Walk Day Pass is $4 per person.
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