While the Margaret River Region is world famous for its wine and surf, many visitors consider Busselton as merely the gateway to the region. Bypassing this bustling coastal town, however, could mean missing out on epic seaside, gastronomic and cultural adventures all within walking distance of each other. Beneath its laid-back nature lies a thriving energy uncovered by those who take the time to explore. From one of the most epic jetties in the country to a film festival attracting Australia’s richest film prize, Busselton quite rightly vies for your attention.
The longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere
It’s no wonder Busselton Jetty is the most photographed attraction in the state as it reaches over 1.8 kilometres across Geographe Bay towards the Indian Ocean. Jump aboard the solar-powered train chugging to the end of the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, where you can admire over 300 marine species and 13 underwater sculptures in one of six underwater observatories worldwide. Dive or snorkel into the tropical and sub-tropical wonderland, or stay dry and descend eight metres below the surface to admire this world-class waterworld from the viewing windows, where you might spy mermaids or underwater helmet walkers floating by.
Exploring Geographe Bay
Unlike the powerful surfing breaks further south, Geographe Bay cradles the shoreline with languid swells ideal for swimming, fishing, boating and water sports. Although you probably won’t get your feet wet on an All Sea Charters whale watching tour from September until mid-November, you’ll likely glimpse majestic whales migrating south. Or paddle out from the Busselton foreshore, where frolicking dolphins delight within this safe swimming beach.
Taste the Margaret River Region under one roof
Did you know you can sample the entire Margaret River Region under one roof in Busselton? Origins Markets is a one-stop collective showcasing over 70 local farmers, producers, artisans and creators. Not only can you sample delicacies from Western Australia, such as olive oil, cheese, charcuterie and wine, but you can travel the globe with your tastebuds with an array of cuisines like Latin, Mediterranean and Asian flavours at the eateries. Keep an eye on their events calendar for year-round culinary and cultural events.
The abundance of cuisine on offer is staggering in this part of the world. Sample the region’s famous Amelia Park Lamb at Amelia Park Lodge, Abrolhos Island Scallops at Banksia Tavern or local seafood on the foreshore at The Goose, Equinox or Shelter Brewing Co., famed for their handcrafted brews. Try WA’s world-class truffles at the Dunn Bay Continental, which stocks the Hound & Hunter product range showcasing this exquisite ingredient just a few minutes away in Dunsborough.
Blast off the new year with fireworks at the Festival of Busselton on 31st December on the foreshore, where you’ll also enjoy more celebrations on Australia Day. Perfect sailing conditions attract the annual Geographe Bay Race Week in February, and also during the month, the South West Craft Beer Festival and the annual Busselton Jetty Swim are big drawcards to the region. Cooler temperatures during May are ideal for the Busselton Festival of Triathlon. In August, CinefestOZ returns as Australia’s richest film prize, where you’ll mingle with many celebrities at film screenings and events in Busselton and its surrounds. Hundreds of artists fling open their studio doors to the public for a sneak peek into their process and creations during the Margaret River Region Open Studios in September. The Big Boobie Bash raises money for Breast Cancer Care WA at Shelter Brewing Co. during October. In November, WA’s newest open water swim event kicks off with the Geo Bay Cool Water Classic, plus the Busselton Show runs over an entire weekend with rides, entertainment and fireworks also during November.
Glamp among kangaroos and fluffy highland cows
You certainly won’t be roughing it at Willow Wood Glamping Retreat, where luxury and nature blend into one decadent escape. You’ll be thanking your lucky (gazillion) stars while soaking in the copper bath on your deck while overlooking the 100-acre rural property dotted with lazing kangaroos. Cloud-like mattresses, kitchenettes with coffee machines and luxe ensuites take the romance up a notch only (just) matched by the spa tent, where owner Amber will be ready to massage away any remaining shreds of reality with a botanical Larn’wa treatment. She might even let you feed her fluffy highland cows, leaving you fantasising about permanently escaping to the country.
Be the first to stay in Busselton’s newest hotel
The Hilton Garden Inn is due to open on December 29, 2023, and everyone is so excited that they’ve already taken bookings months in advance. All 110 rooms feature luxurious Suite Dreams mattresses and sofa beds in King guest rooms for families. Even if you’re not a hotel guest, the Together & Co. Bar overlooking Geographe Bay and the pool will surely become a local hotspot. For the ultimate views over the bay, see if you can score an invite to one of the fancy weddings or events at the function room on the top floor, but failing that, booking an ocean-facing room will have you primed for epic sunsets.
Getting to Busselton:
Busselton is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Perth or a short flight from Perth, regional towns and the east coast into the Busselton Margaret River Airport.