Busselton is one of Western Australia’s most prized holiday destinations. Families have been coming here for generations to enjoy the beautiful pristine beaches, first class accommodation, restaurants, activities and events.
As ‘Events Capital Western Australia’, there is always something new and exciting happening in Busselton from jazz festivals and car rallies to IRONMAN triathlons.
As if there wasn’t enough going on within the town itself, within easy driving distance there is a huge number of family friendly things to do within the broader Your Margaret River Region.
Editors note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness
Family-friendly things to do in Busselton
Where to stay: Mandalay Holiday Resort, Busselton
Mandalay Holiday Resort is one of the most popular family friendly places to stay in Western Australia. People come from far and wide and also locally to stay at Mandalay because it is that good.
For starters, while it is only a few minutes from Busselton CBD it is tucked away from the main road and hustle and bustle, overlooking a stunning secluded swimming beach.
Most of the year it’s flat, shallow and crystal clear with very small waves; a perfect swimming beach for kids! A few minutes down the road there is also another beach with boat ramp access and a car park, great for those who are into fishing or water sports.
You would be hard pressed to find a resort more family friendly than Mandalay; they have thought of everything! They have four playgrounds, unique play equipment and BBQ facilities spread out in different areas of the resort. No matter where you are staying, you will be near a playground. There is also a huge grassed area with enough room to kick a footy. At one end of the oval there is a big jumping pillow and there is a games room down the other end.
Some nights they have food trucks serving food on the lawn so you don’t even have to worry about cooking dinner.
Next to the games room there are three fenced pools; one indoors, two outdoors. Two of the pools have shallow beach access which is great for the little kids, and the other pool has a huge water slide which is really popular with bigger kids and adults.
I think that’s what struck us the most about Mandalay; they have something for kids of all ages, and everyone can come here and have a good time. The overall vibe at Mandalay is very family friendly and relaxed, there are kids riding around on scooters and running around playing with their friends and family, I don’t think I have ever seen so many happy kids in one resort before!
There is accommodation to suit every budget, from camping and caravan sites to three bedroom Spa Chalets with air-conditioning, full kitchen and laundry facilities, undercover parking, spa bath and more. The standard and range of facilities at Mandalay is top notch, everyone will be happy here!
Things to do: Busselton Foreshore
The Foreshore is the jewel in Busselton’s glittering crown; it’s one of my favourite places to spend time with my family. It is naturally stunning and is especially well maintained and very clean. People have been visiting Busselton with their families for generations and have made some very fond memories on the Foreshore.
The whole way along the foreshore there is a fantastic wide path, great for bikes, scooters, prams or a leisurely scenic walk. On the left there is a huge car park with stairs down to the beach, BBQ facilities, water fountains, landscaped gardens, sheltered tables and seating. Next to the carpark there is a large sheltered playground with views of the ocean and more BBQ’s, tables, seating and water fountains. Behind the playground is another car park with an electric charging station and public toilets.
The beach is shallow and in the warmer months usually very calm, crystal clear, with tiny waves – perfect for swimming. There is a small jetty that wraps around the main swimming area with ladders.
Behind the beach there is some undercover seating and on top level sits the newly refurbished Equinox Café with outdoor and indoor seating and a takeaway counter. Next to the Equinox is another carpark and the Goose Café Beach Bar + Kitchen, complete with an outdoor takeaway Simmo’s Ice Cream counter.
In front of the Goose is the legendary Busselton Jetty. It is over 150 years old and the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere.
The government planned to shut it down in the 70’s when it was no longer commercially viable but the people of Busselton rallied and fundraised to keep and maintain it. They were definitely on to something! The Busselton Jetty is now heritage listed and one of Your Margaret River Regions biggest attractions. You can walk the whole 1.8 meters of the Jetty or you can catch the Jetty Train that takes you to the end where you can explore below.
For over 150 years the warm and calm Leeuwin Current has been running under the Jetty which has provided the perfect environment for Australia’s greatest artificial reef to grow. It happened very slowly; year after year, layer by layer of organisms grew and thrived until a beautiful unique ecosystem formed. If it wasn’t for the Jetty this ecosystem simply would not exist. Today the Jetty is covered in a stunning array of sponges, tropical and sub-tropical corals, which over three hundred individual marine species call their home.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see this colourful ecosystem up close? Well you can!
At the end of the Jetty there is a unique building called the Underwater Observatory, which allows you to experience the awe inspiring reef without getting wet. It sits on the bottom of the ocean floor and has massive viewing windows all the way down with information detailing the different types of marine species you might see along the way. There are guided tours which are a wealth of information, and a wheelchair-accessible lift takes guests down to each level. At the top of the building there is a gift shop, public toilets and you can catch the Jetty train back to shore.
There are lots of events that happen along the foreshore and during school holidays you will find extra activities especially for children.
Is your little one fascinated with mermaids? Don’t miss your opportunity to watch these beauties swim past the windows of the Underwater Observatory on one of our Mermaid Tours! Tours are running on Sundays at 9am and 10am, from 7 January until Saturday 3 March. Tours include a return Jetty Train Ride, 40 minute guided tour of the Underwater Observatory and a Jetty Day Pass.
Mad Cow Entertainment
There are some super cool activities setup on the end of the Jetty for the summer school holidays! Kicking off on Boxing Day you can enjoy a ride on a dinosaur, surf a mechanical surfboard, zoom down an inflatable water slide or battle it out in the Meltdown arena! Fairy floss, popcorn and slushies will also be on sale. 10am to 4pm daily (weather and wind dependent).
On the left hand side of the playground at certain times on busy days you will find an assortment of food trucks and one of Gelato Buonissimo’s shiny gelato carts.
Gelato Buonissimo, Busselton
No visit to Busselton is complete without tasting a delicious traditional gelato from Gelato Buonissimo. The shop is owned by a lovely local family who makes their authentic Italian gelato daily, using the highest quality ingredients.
Most of the gelato is egg and gluten free and there are some dairy free and diabetic friendly flavours available too. The gelato is so fresh there is no need for any preservatives, additives or artificial flavours.
Andi, the chief gelato maker, is quite creative and likes to come up with new and exciting flavours to tempt your taste buds. On the Australia Day long weekend they had Tim Tam and Lamington gelato, and at the Gourmet Escape Gourmet Village they teamed up with local brewery and winery, Eagle Bay Brewing Company, to create Eagle Bay Bubbles and Lemon flavoured gelato. They also featured Lindt Chocolate Fondente, Mango, Pepper Berry and a few other flavours at the festival all of which sold out of two days in a row! They sold out on the first day and Andi was up all night making more and then they sold out again on the Sunday.
The Gelato Buonissimo café is located in the CBD, walking distance from the Busselton Foreshore.
The café is well known not only for their delicious gelato but authentic Italian coffee, sorbet and baked goods.
The gelato is so highly sought after they also sell it out of their beautiful custom made Italian gelato carts at markets, beaches, festivals, weddings and other events.
If one scoop of delicious gelato isn’t enough Anita can make you up an insulated take home pack or you can hire one of their gelato cart’s for your own event.
Naturaliste Reptile Park, Carbunup River
≈13 minutes’ drive from Busselton centre
The Naturaliste Reptile Park offers a unique educational family friendly experience just outside of Busselton. Upon entry to the indoor building you are met with a large raised pond full of water loving creatures like turtles and water lizards. The baby crocodile is in a separate pond safely behind glass, he might be small but he is mighty! He kept a close eye on us as we walked around his habitat; the kids were in awe of him.
Also inside, securely behind glass, you will encounter all kinds of snakes, lizards and frogs. Outside there is a picnic area and habitats for the bigger reptiles like Goanna.
The Reptile Park is not only fun but interactive too! My sons were allowed to assist the Reptile Carer in carrying some temporary cages outside so the Lizards could soak up some Vitamin D. Under close supervision my boys were also able to gently pat the Lizards textured skin.
Xscape At The Cape Fun Park
≈10 minutes’ drive from Busselton centre
For a jam-packed day of family fun head to Xscape at the Cape, just out of Dunsborough. With a range of activities, attractions and entertainment for kids of all ages, flexible entry prices with a great cafe and ice creamery, its easy to wear out your kids and have a terrific day!
New this summer is Amaze ‘n’ Lazer Tag – an adventure game played within our Mine Shaft Maze – a match made in gaming heaven!
Lazer Tag and Jungle Mountain keeps your older kids entertained while smaller ones love our Wacky Putt and The KidZone.
All ages have a ball on the Jump ‘n’ Tramps and the Get Wet H20 water playground.
Wonky Windmill Farm and Eco Park, Yelverton
≈25 minutes’ drive from Busselton centre
Situated in beautiful bushland less than 30 minutes from the centre of Busselton, the Wonky Windmill is a lovely place to visit with the family.
You can cuddle guinea pigs and rabbits, bottle feed lambs or walk around the farm at your own pace hand-feeding all kind of animals from deer, llama and kangaroos to sheep, pigs and ponies.
Once you have finished meeting all of the animals you can relax undercover and enjoy a true blue Aussie country kitchen treat. The Wonky Windmill café is well known for their beautiful scones, jam and cream.
I think part of their winning secret is the preserves that they use. The Wonky Windmill has a range of gourmet preserves and condiments that they make themselves with fruit from their own orchards. Be sure to partake in some complimentary taste testing before you go!
The Farm Café overlooks a big grassed area with a shaded sandpit, cubby houses, sporting equipment and toys so you can enjoy a cuppa while your kids play.
One of my favourite parts of the farm is the tour of the orchard; you set off for a walk across from the farm with a staff member who talks you through the varieties of fruit in the orchard before picking them off the tree and chops it up right there for you to taste. There is nothing quite like fresh fruit picked straight off a tree!
I tried a lemonade fruit for the first time and it was superb; it has the flavour of a lemon but is sweet like a mandarin. At the Wonky Windmill you are allowed to pick fruit from their orchard to purchase and take home, which is fantastic because you can’t find fruit like lemonades in the shops. Unlike most other citrus fruit you have to eat them within the first few days they have been picked.
Margaret River Chocolate Company, Metricup
≈25 minutes’ drive from Busselton centre
If you love chocolate, the Chocolate Company is the one attraction you just can’t miss! When you first walk into the building the tantalising smell of chocolate wafts into your nose and your eyes will widen at the sight of three large bowls laden with dark, milk and white chocolate that are there for you to taste test.
In the display room you will find tables and shelves stacked high with every type of chocolate product you could imagine and a decadent chocolate truffle cabinet.
At the back of the building there is a viewing room where you can watch delicious sweet treats being hand made by chocolate artisans.
The Chocolate Factory has an amazing café right next to the display room featuring the most delicious sweet treats made from their own delectable chocolate. There are savoury and sweet choices but I think the crowd favourites are the chocolate fondue and hot chocolate, made with real Margaret River Chocolate Company chocolate drops that you stir into your warm milk.
You can sit inside surrounded by the heavenly smell of chocolate or outside where there is lots of room to run around a small nature based playground.
The Chocolate Factory is very family friendly with kid’s meals, baby chinos, high chairs and baby change facilities.
Bootleg Brewery, Wilyabrup
≈30 minutes’ drive from Busselton centre
The Bootleg Brewery is a popular lunch spot for families due to their large outdoor playground and laid back, fun and friendly vibe.
I love being able to sit at a table right next to the playground and enjoy my meal while watching my kids play.
There is fun for everyone at Bootleg; they have table games, Giant Jenga, a window where you can view the fully operational brewery and a lookout tower.
At weekends you can unwind while listening free live music, be sure to check out Bootlegs website for their gig guide.