The Vasse Wonnerup Wetlands have been listed by the Ramsar Convention as 'Wetlands of International Importance', for their role in supporting biological diversity and conserving threatened species. More than 30,000 waterbirds comprising 90 different species use this habitat each year; several of these species are now rare.
Lying just east of the Busselton townsite, the wetlands system is made up of the Vasse and Wonnerup estuaries, the Wonnerup Inlet and the seasonal Malbup Creek; which connects the two estuaries. Water flows directly into the wetlands from several surrounding rivers.
These wetlands support the largest regular breeding colony of the black swan in WA. Other waterbirds that congregate in their thousands include teal and black duck, pelican, stilt, coot, avocet, heron, egret, ibis, spoonbills, grebes, cormorants, sandpipers, plover, and stints. Birds of prey such as harriers, kites, eagles and osprey also use the habitat with its waters rich in freshwater crustaceans, fish and mussels.
The wetlands vary from broad expanses of open water to sheltered bays and inlets. Shorelines are fringed by flooded pastures or native rush and paperbark, offering many differing views of the beautiful birdlife. A hide is situated on the southern side, with the walk trail accessible from Layman Road.
To the south is the last substantial area of tuart forest in the world – only 2000 hectares. Stately tuarts (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) grow to 30 metres or more and are home for parrots and possums, bandicoots and kangaroos. To the north lie low dunes skirted by peppermint and wattle, behind beaches of sand and shell and clear green waters.