Think Busselton is a family-only destination? Think again. Sure, it is an excellent family holiday spot, but the seaside city has been quietly building up its hand to help all ages rediscover its beauty.
The reason Busselton is popular with visitors is evident with your first step onto its stunning foreshore. The famous jetty, beautiful beaches, lush lawns, a nautical themed playground, contemporary restaurants, and crystal clear waters offer a bounty of endless fun and lasting memories. So, whether you’re looking for a holiday with kids, a weekend with mates or a romantic getaway, Busselton is sure to deliver.
Busselton is the perfect blend of family fun, seaside city buzz and endless entertainment. On summer evenings, families descend for fish and chips to the foreshore. June through to December brings whale watchers as the migrating pods and calving mothers move through. Shoulder season winds call to sail boats along Geographe Bay. There really is no place like it.
1. Get around the local nightlife
Busselton’s music scene is ramping up with lively new bars offering entertainment, fabulous food and a good selection of wine, beer and cocktails. The Firestation, Busselton’s favourite boutique bar, hosts a plethora of homegrown and visiting talent in their garden courtyard on most Saturday nights (and other random evenings). The music, rotating kegs of local beer, and tasty food offerings make for a pleasant evening out. Other venues offering live music include Amelia Park Lodge, Equniox, Stilts, Ship Inn and The Deck (check their website for more details).
As the gateway to the Margaret River wine region, Busselton embraces its status of ambassador of all good wine and craft beer. That’s why local pubs, bars, and restaurants promote the daily tradition of a cold one with everyone’s favourite time of day: Beer/Wine O’Clock. There are more than a few thirst-quenching happy hours in Busselton, including 5pm – 6pm at Equinox Restaurant & Bar daily and The Firestation on weekdays, while The Ship Inn does things right with two daily happy hours from 12-1pm and again at 5-6pm. Holidaymakers, go forth.
2. Get active & get social with the bustling local event calendar
Busselton is the Events Capital of Western Australia, which means a lot goes on here. Large public spaces in and around the foreshore area are able to host popular events such as the South West Craft Beer Festival, King of Concrete, The Busselton Fringe Festival, CineFest Oz and weekly farmers’ and craft markets.
Fitness junkies from all over rush to hard-core comps such as the annual Busselton Jetty Swim, IRONMAN, Half Marathon and Fun Run, and the Festival of Triathlon. Time your visit with one of these major events and you’ll be blown away by the buzz that takes over this once quaint seaside town.
3. Go below the (water’s) surface at the Busselton Jetty
The Busselton Jetty is the city’s iconic focal point and a must-visit attraction. Walking the longest timber jetty in the Southern Hemisphere is one thing, but seeing what’s below the wooden planks is quite another (read: dazzlingly colourful schools of fish and extremely friendly octopus). Snorkelling or scuba diving around and under the jetty is a daring adventure worthy of every bucket list.
If you’d rather stay dry, journey eight metres under the ocean surface at the Underwater Observatory near the end of the 1.84 km jetty. It’s one of only six of its type in the world and the perfect place to discover what life looks like under the sea.
4. Leave Footprints, Take Photos
The sandy shores along Geographe Bay will guarantee Instagram-worthy sunrise and sunset photos, but they’re also ideal for clocking up your daily steps. Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot in the whitewash, feel the wind in your hair, and inhale the salt air for a rush of aliveness and splendour. It’s also the perfect setting for a romantic stroll on date night, or a family picnic with million dollar views.
5. Reach for the treetops at Forest Adventures
Bring out your inner primate with a trip to Forest Adventures in the tall trees of the Tuart Forest. Challenge yourself to climb high above the ground and zoom through the air on the many zip lines zigzagging the eight-acre property. This is an adventure and a half and a total contrast to Busselton’s beautiful beaches. When you’re looking to venture out of your comfort zone or confront physical and mental limits, this will do it. And you’ll feel like a champion afterwards.
6. Find solitude out fishing
Busselton is a favourite spot for anglers and sea lovers. If you love to fish, cast a line out from the Busselton Jetty for a chance to catch squid, herring, or whiting with like-minded locals. Busselton and Southwest Rent-a-Car offer rod and reel rentals. There are a number of other fishing spots that might take your further off the beaten track, where you can find absolute solitude and stillness – until, that is, you’re (hopefully!) wrangling in dinner! Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned seafarer, read more about family-friendly fishing near Busselton before casting your line.
7. Witness Geographe Bay’s whale migration spectacular
If you’d rather catch a glimpse of migrating whales, there are a number of whale watching charters that will get you up close and personal with the majesties of the sea. All Seas Charters guarantees sightings in season. From September to November, Captain Paul sets off from Busselton in search of Humpback and Southern Right whales, more than 35, 000 of which pass through Geographe Bay and even stop to nurse their young there every year. Seeing these giant and majestic creatures up close is an experience to last a lifetime.
8. See the coast from above
Fly high above the gorgeous coastline with an adrenaline-producing flight with one of the region’s scenic flight operators. Tiger Moth Adventure Flights is just one example – their two-seater, open cock-pit bi-plane will take you on a crazy-good, aerobatic ride of your life. Imagine steep descents, barrel rolls, and loops about five thousand feet above Geographe Bay! This heart-pumping adventure is an awesome way to rediscover Busselton – you’ll see the place from a totally new perspective.
10. Immerse yourself in Busselton’s cafe culture
Local coffee gurus Yahava KoffeeWorks may be responsible for creating a caffeine buzz in Busselton. Regardless, there is well and truly a cafe culture in Busselton and holidaymakers aren’t complaining!
The Good Egg, a best-loved cafe and eatery as much for its story (it was opened by co-owners Deb Hallyburton and Amy Ovans in honour of Ms Hallyburton’s late husband, donating 5 per cent of all profits to brain cancer research) as for its coffee. Offering a casual, yet warm environment to while an hour or two away, this place is perfect for anything from coffee and muffins with the fam to a few hours catching up on emails.
But don’t stop there. Coffee and hearty breakfasts are also on offer at Hummingbird, while Baked is a favourite for pastries, cakes and other staples of the sweet and moreish variety, as well as excellent takeaway lunch options for all your group picnicking needs.
On your way to the Busselton Jetty, stop into the Lockup Coffee House located at the Old Court House on Queen Street. Here you can mix a little cafe culture with history as you explore the city’s original jail cells and courthouse. You’ll enjoy Yahava coffee, yummy cakes, homemade scones, sandwiches, salads, and 100% natural gelato from Chill Zone.
10. Explore the coast by pedal power
Busselton is blessed with flat ground, which means cycling is an easy and fun way to get out and about. Rent a bike from the cycle hire station, Spinway WA. Getting on the tarmac has never been easier with a simple payment system and enough grab-n-go, purpose-designed bikes to go around. Don’t forget to grab helmets and loacks from inside the Visitor Centre! From here, follow the paved footpath along the foreshore to Dunsborough (about 28km), or to Port Geographe Marina (4.8km) and take in the fresh air and beauty of the stunning coastline. There are plenty of spots to stop and refresh in the bay’s turquoise waters along the way, and be sure to remain on the lookout for dolphins and whales depending on the time of year.
If you’re game and want to go further afield, Busselton is an excellent jumping off point for some of the region’s more challenging cycling and mountain biking.