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.