on May 14, 2012
My wife and I stayed two nights in Busselton and during our stay visited Busselton Jetty now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Western Australia. It is a must see for any visitor to the Margaret River wine region.Stretching 1.8 kilometres across the protected waters of Geographe Bay from the town of Busselton it is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. Shallow water inshore called for a long jetty so ships could secure alongside for loading cut timber.Construction of the jetty began in 1853 and by 1865 the first section of the jetty became available for shipping. Bigger ships and drifting sandbanks called for extending he jetty into deeper water until the 1960s when it reached its current 1841 metres.After more than a century of use and servicing over 5000 vessels, the jetty closed as a port in 1973. Once closed, government maintenance of the jetty ended and it began to decay, suffering attack by wood borers, rot and the occasional fire. On 4 April 1978, Cyclone Alby destroyed a large part of the shore end of the jetty. Rebuilding proved expensive but a community group raised the funding needed. In December 1999, a devastating fire burnt 65 metres of jetty to the waterline. The Jetty reopened on Sunday 6 February 2011 after completion of a refurbishment programme. New features include interpretive nodes and fish cleaning bays, swimming and diving platforms, rain shelters and heritage sculptures. The striking boatshed style Interpretive Centre & Cultural Heritage Museum 50 metres offshore opened in April 2001. The Centre and Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the Jetty's rich past, its future and the marine environment. Unique giftware, art and souvenirs are on sale. The jetty features a rail line service along its 1.8 km length, which ran commercially as part of the railway line into Busselton from Bunbury. Visitors can sit back, relax and take in the beautiful surrounds of Geographe Bay as they travel out to the Underwater Observatory at the pier end or choose to walk. Many visitors take the train one-way as we did and walk the other way. The 9.5 m diameter observatory opened on 13 December 2003. This unique building allows visitors to experience one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs by descending eight metres to the ocean floor via a spiral staircase to discover a forest of vividly coloured tropical and subtropical corals, sponges and invertebrates.Viewing windows at various levels allow visitors to look out on some of the 300 marine species that live beneath the jetty. There are four distinct depth zones. The first is the intertidal zone. Barnacles, mussels, oysters, chitons, crabs and shrimps occupy it. They can withstand harsh environmental conditions. Under it is the subtidal zone dominated by hard corals and orange tabular bryozoans. Small patches of marine algae may also grow on the outer piles of the jetty. The midwater zone contains soft corals, sponges, ascidians, bryozoans, worms and the many mobile animals that live on them.The seabed under the jetty is a mixture of limestone rubble, fallen timbers, sand and silt. This provides various hard surfaces for encrusting animals to attach to and many nooks and crannies for mobile animals to live and feed in.Busselton Jetty is both a top rate interesting and educational attraction.
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