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Western Australia
BusseltonJetty1 gobeirne.jpg
At 1,841 metres (6,040 ft), the Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden jetty (pier) in the Southern Hemisphere
Australia Western Australia location map.svg
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Coordinates 33°38′52″S115°20′45″E / 33.64778°S 115.34583°E / -33.64778; 115.34583 Coordinates: 33°38′52″S115°20′45″E / 33.64778°S 115.34583°E / -33.64778; 115.34583
 • Density239.63/km2 (620.64/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 6280
Elevation4 m (13 ft)
Area105.7 km2 (40.8 sq mi) [3]
Time zone AWST (UTC+8)
LGA(s) City of Busselton
State electorate(s) Vasse
Federal Division(s) Forrest
Mean max tempMean min tempAnnual rainfall
22.0 °C
72 °F
10.4 °C
51 °F
812.6 mm
32 in
Busselton foreshore Busso foreshore.JPG
Busselton foreshore

Busselton is a city in the South West region of the state of Western Australia approximately 220 km (140 mi) south-west of Perth. Busselton has a long history as a popular holiday destination for Western Australians; however, the closure of the Busselton Port in 1972 and the contemporaneous establishment of the nearby Margaret River wine region have seen Tourism become the dominant source of investment and development, supplemented by services and retail. The Town is best known for the Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere.



Pre European settlement and 19th century

Before white settlement in 1832, and for at least 40,000 years, the Busselton area was home to the Noongar Aboriginal people from the Wardandi and Bibulman language/ancestral groups. [4] The colonisation of Western Australia in 1829 had a major impact on the life of the Noongar people. Many towns in the Busselton area, such as Wonnerup, Yallingup and Carbunup River, still hold their original Noongar names. The Wonnerup massacre of Wardandi Noongar people by European settlers occurred in the vicinity of Wonnerup in 1841. [4]

The early history of European exploration of the Busselton area focused on the French expedition of 1801 which brought Nicholas Baudin, with his ships Géographe and Naturaliste , to the coast of Western Australia. Baudin named Geographe Bay and Cape Naturaliste after his vessels, and named the river Vasse after a sailor, Thomas Vasse, who was lost as he went overboard and was believed to have drowned.

Busselton was one of the earliest settlements in Western Australia. It was first settled by the Bussell family, George Layman, and the Chapman brothers, who relocated there from their location on the Blackwood River. John Garrett Bussell first visited Busselton in December 1831, describing the land as follows: "The country as we advanced improved rapidly; the ground on which we trod was a vivid green, unsullied with burnt sticks and blackened grass trees". [5] Bussell was granted land in the area in July 1832 and the settlers moved there in April 1834. The Bussells established a cattle station which they named Cattle Chosen, which quickly became one of the most prosperous stations in the colony, and as a result, nearly all of the settlers at Augusta relocated to the area within a few years. [4] A number of settlers established themselves at Wonnerup, and eventually a contingent of troops was stationed there under Lieutenant Henry Bunbury. It was originally intended to locate the townsite at Wonnerup, but the area was low-lying and marshy, and Bunbury considered it unsuitable for a townsite. The present area was then recommended by the Surveyor General, John Septimus Roe.

The P-51 Mustang which was given the nickname Busselton at RAAF Base Laverton in 1945 P-51 Busselton.jpg
The P-51 Mustang which was given the nickname Busselton at RAAF Base Laverton in 1945

The present name of Busselton derives from the Bussell family. It was first officially used in June 1835. [6] The Bussells, who were not consulted about the name, preferred the name Capel after a relative in England, Capel Carter, but the name Busselton was retained. A town named Capel was later established to the north of Busselton. The name "The Vasse" was also used for the district interchangeably with "Busselton" until the end of the 19th century. [6] The townsite was planned and surveyed in 1836 by Bunbury and in 1839, by which time it had a population of 77, it was laid out by surveyor Henry Ommaney. [4] This was followed by the opening of the post office in 1842 and St Mary's Church in 1845. In 1847, the town was officially gazetted as Busselton, and the first government-assisted school was opened there in 1848. [4] In the early days of the settlement, and for some time afterwards, the area was visited by whaling ships from the US, France, and England. The Americans in particular traded with the settlers, who gained vital supplies such as iron, flour, and clothing in exchange for fresh food; there was also a trade in smuggled rum and tobacco. The American whalers delivered mail to England via the US, providing an alternative to infrequent government schooners. [4] Visits from foreign whalers declined in the 1860s due to the introduction of fossil fuels to replace whale oil, but a nearby whaling group in what is now part of the Meelup Regional Park, the Castle Bay Whaling Company, survived until 1872. [4] [7]

Being in close proximity to the tall timber country, Busselton soon established itself as a leading port. In 1850, timber was being exported and the small town prospered. Jetties for this purpose were built at Wonnerup, Busselton, and Quindalup. Of these, only the Busselton Jetty remains. [8] During the 1850s, Busselton began to receive convicts who were beginning to arrive in Western Australia; they particularly helped with the timber industry. [4] Western Australia's first railway line was built just north of Busselton at Lockville in 1871, the original engine being known as the Ballarat engine. The privately owned line was used for the transport of timber [9] to the Wonnerup jetty across the Ballarat bridge. By the 1880s Busselton had a regular mail and passenger coach service from Perth and Bunbury and, in 1894, a passenger rail service commenced between Busselton and Bunbury on the South Western Railway via Boyanup; it operated until 1985. [4] [10] [11]

Federation to present day

By the early 20th century, Busselton had become well known as a resort town, aided by the railway along with the 1890s Western Australian gold rushes, which greatly increased the state's population and prosperity. Caves in the area of what is now the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park including Yallingup Cave (now Ngilgi Cave) had been discovered and developed, and the strip of coastline between Cape Yallingup and Cape Naturaliste had become popular for camping and seaside holidays. [4] The 1913 Cyclopedia of Western Australia stated:

Busselton which has come to be known as the sanatorium of Western Australia lies within the shelter of Geographe Bay some 30 miles south of Bunbury. Up to some 20 years ago, it was merely a charming country village, with grass-grown streets where arum lilies rioted in profusion. ... It’s cool temperate climate, excellent beach and well-established bathing facilities have made it one of the favourite summer resorts. If to these we add the caves reached daily by motor service from the town and, in addition to the scenery, this excellent boating, bathing and fishing, Busselton can probably claim to be the most favoured haunt of the holiday seeker. [4]

Busselton began to grow significantly when the Group Settlement Scheme brought people to the area between 1923 and 1926; nine of the first sixteen groups were organised in the Busselton area. [4] [12] In about 1927, the Flinders Bay Branch Railway was developed, which connected Busselton to Flinders Bay; it was closed around 1957. In the 1930s, agricultural prices dropped due to the Great Depression, causing many people to leave the area. [4] During World War II, 476 Busselton-born men signed up for service; 20 in the Royal Australian Navy, 110 in the Royal Australian Air Force, and 346 in the Australian Army. The names of the fallen are displayed on the town's war memorial alongside those of World War I in St Marys Park. During the war, Busselton was home to an Air Force training base; remains of the base can still be seen today from the Busselton Bypass Road. A Royal Australian Air Force P-51 Mustang fighter was given the nickname Busselton in honour of the people of Busselton and their support of War Loan fundraising activities.

In the 1950s many facilities for holiday-makers were built west of Busselton and the 1960s saw the beginnings of the professional fishing industry and, in particular, the Margaret River wine region, which greatly increased tourist numbers in and around Busselton. [4] The Busselton port closed in 1972. [4] From the 1970s Busselton began growing particularly as a tourism centre and retirement location. By 1996 it had become one of the fastest-growing areas in Western Australia, with an annual growth rate since then of five percent. [4] In 2012, the Shire of Busselton gained city status. [13]


Busselton is situated in the south West region of Western Australia, about 220 kilometres (140 mi) south-west of Perth. [4] [14] The city is composed of a city centre along with the suburbs of Abbey, Ambergate, Bovell, Broadwater, Geographe, Kealy, Vasse, West Busselton, and Yalyalup. [15] It is bordered by Geographe Bay to the north, with urban development traditionally being concentrated on the bay, extending from Abbey in the west to Geographe in the east. Urban development south of this area has traditionally been obstructed by wetlands and estuaries; however, since the 1980s, development has taken place to the south of these waterway systems. [15] [16] The Vasse River flows through the city to the Vasse-Wonnerup Estuary; reserves adjoining this estuary to the north form Busselton's eastern border. [16] [17] The city's western border is formed by The corner of Caves Road and Bussell Highway. Caves Road leads to the nearby town of Dunsborough, which is separated from Busselton by a green belt, notably including the Locke Nature Reserve, known locally as the "Holy Mile". [16] [18] [19] [20] Busselton's nearest city is Bunbury, the administrative centre of the south West region, which is about 50 kilometres (30 mi) away. [4] [18]


Busselton is the northernmost Australian coastal town entirely with a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csb). [21] The Bureau of Meteorology has had three major temperature-recording sites in Busselton: the Busselton Shire office, with temperatures recorded from 1900 to 1975 and rainfall from 1877 to the present, [22] Busselton Town near The Busselton District Hospital site on Mill Road (recording from 1998 to 2011), [23] [24] and the Busselton Margaret River Airport, 8 kilometres (5 mi) east of the Busselton Town station (recording since 1997). [25] Wind observations have been made at Busselton Jetty since 1997, and temperature observations have been made in the general area at Ludlow, Jarrahwood, and Cape Naturaliste. [26] [27] Summers are generally warm to hot with afternoon sea breezes, with average daily maxima of 28 °C (82 °F) at the shire station and 30 °C (86 °F) at the airport station, and a winter that delivers cooler temperatures; 6 to 18 °C (43 to 64 °F) and rain that supports diverse agricultural industries, including the Margaret River wine region. [22] [25] The annual average rainfall at the Busselton Shire station is 810.4 millimetres (31.91 in), with the wettest period being from May to September. [22]

Climate data for Busselton Aero (all averages and extremes: 1997–2019)
Record high °C (°F)40.2
Average high °C (°F)30.2
Average low °C (°F)14.2
Record low °C (°F)4.0
Average precipitation mm (inches)15.3
Average precipitation days2.
Average afternoon relative humidity (%)35364050596868666354453952
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology [25]
Climate data for Busselton Town (all averages and extremes: 1998–2011)
Record high °C (°F)38.9
Average high °C (°F)29.3
Average low °C (°F)14.8
Record low °C (°F)6.8
Average precipitation mm (inches)14.6
Average precipitation days2.
Average afternoon relative humidity (%)43444856626667656256504455
Source: Bureau of Meteorology [23]
Climate data for Busselton shire (temperature averages: 1900–1975); temperature extremes: 1957–1975; rainfall: 1877–present)
Record high °C (°F)38.5
Average high °C (°F)28.5
Average low °C (°F)13.8
Record low °C (°F)6.7
Average precipitation mm (inches)10.4
Average precipitation days2.
Average afternoon relative humidity (%)50515462707373706664565262
Source: Bureau of Meteorology [22]


The 2016 Australian census recorded Busselton's population as 25,329, [1] 69.0% of the population of the City of Busselton local government area, which was 36,686. [28] The 2016 census also recorded Busselton's median age as 42, higher than the national average of 38. [1] Australian-born residents made up 74.7% of Busselton's population, followed by those born in England (7.7%), New Zealand (2.5%), South Africa (1.0%), Scotland (0.7%), and the Philippines (0.5%). [1] English was the only language spoken at home by 88.4% of residents, with the next most common languages being German and Afrikaans (0.4%), Italian and Hazaragi (0.3%), and Tagalog (0.2%). [1] The most common industry for employed people in Busselton was listed as "accommodation" at 4.1%, compared to the national average of 1.1%; others were "supermarket and grocery stores" (3.4%), aged care residential services (3.1%), "cafes and restaurants" (3.0%), and "primary education" (2.6%). [1]

As at June 2018 the estimated population of the Busselton statistical area was 27,584, having increased by 1.2% in the preceding 12 months. [2] It has been estimated that by 2050 Busselton's population will be between 50,000 and 70,000, with the local government area containing between 70,000 and 100,000 people. [18]


Busselton Margaret River Airport Busselton Margaret River Airport.jpg
Busselton Margaret River Airport

Bussell Highway links Busselton with Bunbury and Augusta, [29] while Vasse Highway goes from Busselton to Pemberton and beyond. [30] Caves Road provides an alternative scenic route from Busselton to Augusta; [31] Sues Road is another alternative route via the Brockman Highway. [32]

Busselton has a town bus service run by Swan Transit South West (TransBusselton), with three routes. [33] South West Coach Lines and Transwa provide coach services for connections to other south west towns and Perth. [34] [35] Busselton is served by Busselton Margaret River Airport. [36]


The main industries of the Busselton area are services (e.g. retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and recreation). The economic focus of the region has gradually shifted from agriculture as the population has increased and tourism has grown in the district. [4]


Busselton foreshore at sunset BusseltonJetty3 gobeirne.jpg
Busselton foreshore at sunset
Busselton Beach OIC busselton cbd beach.jpg
Busselton Beach

Many sites of interest are in the Busselton region. Busselton Beach is known for the turquoise-coloured, tranquil waters and white sands.

Busselton Jetty

Busselton is home to the longest wooden jetty (pier) in the Southern Hemisphere, stretching 1,841 metres (6,040 ft) out to sea. Construction of the jetty began in 1864 and it was continually extended until the 1960s, when it reached its current length. It was closed to shipping in 1972, and maintenance was discontinued for a time. Following major damage caused by Cyclone Alby in 1978 and a fire in 1999, it was restored and improved. Since 2003, the jetty has offered visitors a tourist train ride, an underwater observatory, and an interpretive centre. [37]

Wonnerup House

The current Wonnerup House was built in 1859 by the Layman family (original settlers). The original building built between 1837 and 1841 was destroyed by fire in 1858. The complex also includes the dairy and kitchen, which antedate the main house (and survived the fire of 1858 because they were separate buildings). Over the road are the Teacher's House (1885) and School (1873). Since 1973, the National Trust of Australia has operated the property as a museum open to the public. [38]

Old Butter Factory/Busselton Museum

The Old Butter Factory was built in 1918 by the government Department of Agriculture to replace a previous privately owned dairy, Western Australia's first butter factory and creamery, that was established in 1898. In 1926 the factory was sold to South-West Dairy Produce Co-operative, which was later renamed "Sunny West" and merged into Wesfarmers. The factory also operated as an ice works for local residents and fishermen before the widespread availability of mechanical refrigeration. It ceased butter-making operations in 1952 and became a cream depot and dried milk plant, then a truck depot. In 1974 it was sold to the Shire of Busselton, which leased most of the building to the Busselton Historical Society; they opened the Busselton Museum there in 1975. It was listed on the state's Register of Heritage Places in 2002. [4] [39] [40] In March 2018, the building was heavily damaged by fire. the outside areas were re-opened in January 2019 and the rest of the building was opened in December 2020. [41] [42]

St Mary's (Church of England)

St Mary's (Church of England), built in 1844–1845, [43] is allegedly the oldest stone church in Western Australia. John Molloy and John Garrett Bussell were the main forces behind the construction of the church. The church was not consecrated until 1848 and a clergyman was not attracted to the region for another decade. [12] Alongside the church is a graveyard; some of the graves date back to 1841 – before the building of the church.

Ithaca Ithaca.jpg

Ithaca (Villa Carlotta)

Ithaca (formerly known as Villa Carlotta) is located at 110 Adelaide St, Busselton, and was built by Frank Backhouse in 1896. Ithaca is listed on the state's Register of Heritage Places in recognition of its significant historical and community values. [44] Ithaca has a two-storey tower and was originally built as a private residence; in 1904, Ithaca was acquired by Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions for use as a Catholic convent. Subsequently, it has been a school and a hotel, and now is a motel.

Weld Hall

Weld Hall Weld hall.jpg
Weld Hall

Weld Hall located on the corner of Queen and Adelaide St was built in 1881. In August 2001, the Western Australian government announced that Weld Hall had been listed on the Register of Heritage Places in recognition of its significant historical and cultural value to the local community. The hall is a single-storey brick building with a galvanised roof, and is constructed in a simplified Victorian Italianate style; it is one of the oldest remaining structures in the town. [45]

Augusta-Busselton Heritage Trail

The trail retraces the Pioneer Route from Augusta to Busselton taken by the original settlers in the 1800s. It is over 100 km long, starting at the jetty and finishing in Augusta.



There are nine schools in the Busselton area, six of them government, which serve either primary or high-school students, and three private, which serve both. There are four primary schools (Busselton Primary School, [46] West Busselton Primary School, [47] Geographe Primary School, [48] and Vasse Primary school. [49] The two government high schools are Busselton Senior High School [50] and Cape Naturaliste College. [51] The three private schools are St Mary MacKillop College, [52] Cornerstone Christian College, [53] and Georgiana Molloy Anglican School. [54] The only local tertiary institution in the area is the South Regional TAFE. [55] Central Queensland University has a delivery site to support distance education in Busselton. [56]


Busselton's first convict hospital was built starting in 1869. [57] A new two-storey hospital was constructed in 1896 and operated until 1978. [4] During the early 20th century, there were smaller hospitals mainly used for maternity, such as Nurse Kilerby's Maternity Hospital (c. 1914–1917) [58] [59] and the Lady Campion Hostel (1926–1947), which is on the state's Register of Heritage Places. [60] In 1978, the main hospital was replaced by Busselton District Hospital on Mill Road, which in turn was re-built and opened as the Busselton Health Campus on the same site in 2015. [4] [61] Busselton is also known for the Busselton Health Study, which was founded in 1966 by Kevin Cullen. [4]

Recreation and culture


Events are held year round in Busselton, the most notable being:


Busselton has a leisure centre, a golf club, tennis courts, a skate park, and several outdoor areas on which sport is played. [74] [75] The Busselton Football Club plays in the South West Football League. [76]


Busselton contains the ArtGeo Cultural Complex, which includes an art gallery, theatre, artist's workshop, and an arts and crafts store. It also contains the Busselton Court House and Police Complex, which has an old courthouse, post office, and bond store. Some of the structures in the courthouse and police complex were built by Henry Yelverton in 1860–1861, while a newer courtroom was built in 1897 by George Temple-Poole; this group of buildings was classified by the National Trust of Australia in 1973 and added to the state's Register of Heritage Places in 1993. [77] [78] [79] The ArtGeo Gallery is housed in a former Agricultural Bank of Western Australia building, constructed in 1931, and added to the heritage register in 1999. [80] [81] The complex also contains life-sized sculptures by Fremantle sculptor Greg James depicting the cultural heritage of Busselton; miniature versions (maquettes) of the works are in the City of Busselton office. The six sculptures, unveiled between 2014 and 2019, are Whaler's Wife, Timber Worker, John Garrett Bussell, Spanish Settler (referring to nearby Yoongarillup), Gaywal (an Aboriginal leader at the time of European settlement), and Pioneer Woman. [82] [83] [84] [85] [86]


Busselton is served by two local weekly newspapers; the Busselton Dunsborough Mail (Wednesday) and the Busselton Dunsborough Times (Friday). The West Australian is available from Monday to Saturday and the Sunday Times is available on Sundays.

Busselton is serviced by three commercial television channels, GWN7, WIN, and Nine. The public-broadcast channels ABC and SBS are also available.

Sister cities


Local government

Busselton is located in the 1,454 km2 (561 sq mi) City of Busselton, which also includes the towns of Dunsborough and Yallingup.

State government

2017 state election
  Liberal 46.2%
  Labor 20.6%
  National 19.3%
  Greens 13.8%
2019 federal election
  Liberal 52.4%
  Labor 21.1%
  Greens 12.8%
  One Nation 5.9%

Busselton is located in the Lower House seat of Vasse, represented by Libby Mettam (MLA), who holds the blue-ribbon seat for the Liberal Party. In the Upper House, Busselton is within the South West Region.

Federal government

Busselton is located in the safe Liberal seat of Forrest. The seat is currently represented by Nola Marino, who has held it since 2007.

Notable people

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Electoral district of Vasse State electoral district of Western Australia

Vasse is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in Western Australia. Vasse is based in the South West region of the state, centred on the town of Busselton and is named for the Vasse River. It has been a safe seat for the Liberal Party at all times since its creation, including as its previous incarnation, Sussex.

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Busselton Jetty Heritage listed jetty in Busselton, Western Australia

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The City of Busselton is a local government area in the South West region of Western Australia, approximately 230 km (140 mi) south of Perth, the state capital. The city covers an area of 1,455 km2 (562 sq mi) and had a population of 36,686 as at the 2016 Census. It contains two large towns, Busselton and Dunsborough, and a number of smaller towns. The city office is located on Southern Drive, Busselton.

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Wonnerup House

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The Wonnerup massacre, also known as the Wonnerup "Minninup" massacre , was the killing of dozens of Wardandi Noongar people by European settlers in the vicinity of Wonnerup, Western Australia in February 1841. The massacre on Wardandi Noongar land in the south-west of Western Australia took place after Gaywal, a Wardandi warrior, speared and killed George Layman, a settler at Wonnerup on 21 February 1841. The leaders of the punitive massacre were Layman's neighbours John Bussell and Captain John Molloy, resident magistrate of the district. Settlers from the Wonnerup, Capel, Busselton and Augusta area joined them to commit "one of the most bloodthirsty deeds ever committed by Englishmen".


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Further reading