Busselton (Photo:loneroc/Shutterstock)
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Briar Jensen
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Busselton

Busselton was bustling with energy when it welcomed its first cruise ship in November 2014. It had been a long time between drinks, so to speak. The once busy port shut down in 1973, but residents once again eagerly welcome the arrival of visiting cruisers.

A gateway to the famous Margaret River wine region, the coastal playground of Busselton is located on the sandy shore of Geographe Bay, 140 miles (220 kilometres) southwest of Perth on the west coast of Western Australia (WA). With large areas of national park, state forests, ancient caves and a bevy of beautiful beaches, Busselton is a popular seaside holiday spot, and its population of 25,000 swells with visitors over the summer season. The region is renowned for agriculture and viticulture, and with a growing younger population, Busselton is slowly shrugging off its image as a retirement destination.

One of the earliest settlements in WA, it was named after the Bussell family who established a cattle station in the area in 1834. The town serviced the surrounding agriculture industry before becoming a major port for the timber industry in the mid-1800s. The Busselton Jetty, the only remaining from this period, is the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere, jutting 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometres) into shallow Geographe Bay, and serves as a tourist attraction with its Cultural Heritage Museum and Underwater Observatory.

Like arms outstretched in a welcoming embrace, Geographe Bay's curving expanse of sweeping white beaches extend as far as the eye can see. Crystal-clear water and grassy foreshores shaded by towering Norfolk pines beckon swimmers, picnickers and fishermen alike, while a short distance over the headland, you'll see some of Australia's finest surf beaches, including Yallingup, host to the Malibu Classic surf competition. Head south, and an array of culinary delights and artisan products await in the Margaret River region. Indulge with olives and cheese, chocolate and nougat, beer and berries and vino and venison.

On the migration route for humpback, southern right, blue and minke whales, Busselton operates whale-watching tours from September to November, though dolphins can be seen all year.

About Busselton


Pro

Wine and whale watching are two of this recently revived port's standout attractions

Con

Busselton's beaches are lovely, but be on the lookout for stinging jellyfish

Bottom Line

This port is a true tourist destination, but it offers some unique and interesting attractions


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Where You're Docked

Geographe Bay is shallow, so ships anchor and tender passengers ashore. It's a beautiful ride across the sparkling clear waters of the bay, alongside the historic jetty with its photogenic boatshed-style buildings. Passengers alight at the Cruise Landing Jetty, known as the swim jetty, from where a temporary boardwalk stretches across the sand to the foreshore to ensure visitors do not get sand in their shoes. This is Busselton Foreshore, the town's main beach, so there is no cruise terminal. The Visitor Information Centre, shaped like a lighthouse, is located there, and it's an easy five-minute walk to Queen Street, which runs between the beach and the Vasse River.

Good to Know

At certain times of the year, small transparent jellyfish called "stingers" may be present in the water. While they are not lethal, they can give you a painful sting. Check with residents or the lifeguards on patrol if you are worried.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The currency is the Australian dollar. Visit www.xe.com or www.oanda.com for exchange rates. ATMs can be found in Busselton's main street, Queen Street, and there is one in the Visitor Centre on Busselton Foreshore adjacent to the swim jetty where cruise passengers disembark.

Language

English is the official language. One local term you might become familiar with, depending on the season, is the "Busselton wave." No, it's not a new dance move or a friendly gesture. Visit in spring, and you may find yourself doing it involuntarily in an attempt to swat the pesky bush flies that can be a nuisance. If flies are around, volunteers offer fly spray to passengers as they disembark on the beach.

Shopping

Margaret River is renowned for its world-class wines, including cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc semillon, so you can pick up bottles to stock your cellar.