Geographe Bay, Rotary Park,
Old Butter Factory Museum, Busselton Jetty, Oceanarium, Pioneer cemetery,
Old court house, Woannerup House, Tuart Forest.
Buildings of note
Old Court House, Queen St.
1860-1900, Jetty 1865-1911, St. Mary’s Church
the first permanent building 1844,
Bovell's cottage 1882, Villa Carlotta 1896, Newton house 1851, Little
Holland house 1909, Congregational church 1873, Sandilands homestead 1830,
Old St. Josephs 1866, Old Vasse school 1894, Wonnerup house 1837, Wonnerup
old school 1874, Abbey farm 1864, Caves house 1904.
Calendar of events
January: Beach festival. Petticoat Lane market,
Festival of Busselton.
February: Geographe Bay Race Week, Jetty swim.
March: Naturaliste blue water classic, South West dance festival,
Geographe ladies golf classic. April: Easter parade and Autumn art
May: Half iron man, Gourmet food and wine market. September: Wildflower show. October: Wine and craft
show. November: Wine festival. December: iron man triathlon.
Monthly second Sunday: Railway markets.
Old Vasse Hotel building
‘There is no
more attractive watering place in Western Australia than the town of
Busselton. … Of late years the residents have done much to render the place
attractive to tourists and pleasure seekers, and for these excellent
accommodation can be obtained,’
Twentieth Century Impressions of W.A.
Early European exploration of the region began in 1801 with the French
explorer Baudin. He named
Bay after one of his ships and the
nearby Cape Naturaliste was named after the other vessel. The lighthouse
that stands on the cape was opened in 1904 and today is said to be the haunt
of Bloody Mary and Happy Harry – a couple of ghosts.
The Vasse River was named after a French sailor who was lost and presumed
drowned, but years later as white settlers moved in to the district,
Aborigines told stories about a white man living there who wandered the
shores of the bay looking out to sea for a ship. (One
source states that Vasse was a botanist not a sailor but most sources seem
to agree that he did drown and he was a sailor. This is just one example of
not taking everything you read in history books for granted.)
- (G.F. Moore's letter to the Perth Gazette)
The first townsite was surveyed north of the current location and was
described by the surveyor as:
'mud and water were far more plentiful than dry land, more fit for Dutchmen
or frogs than British soldiers'
Needless to say it was only a year later that the townsite was relocated to
its present site.
Early settlers had to contend not only with isolation and a harsh climate
but the local Aborigines were less than impressed with all the invaders on
Initial conflict seems to have been sparked when a heifer went missing and
it was said that Gaywal and another native had killed and eaten the beast. A
punitive raid followed and sources say that 9 Aborigines were shot and
killed as they tried to escape. It appears that Dawson was speared in
retaliation but he was only wounded and returned fire managing to chase his
The tribal group in the area were very warlike and settlers like George
Layman described the conflict as follows:
'We dare not leave our house to shoot anything. I have 12 head of cattle and
I fear before the natives can be made peaceable some of them will be speared
as I am forced to turn them out in the bush without anyone to mind them. The
natives are very savage.'
It turned out that Layman needed to worry more about himself than the cattle
as he was speared and killed on the 22nd of February 1841.
One account says that Layman had kept a number of Aboriginal women as
servants (against their will) and he was confronted by a tribal elder (Gaywal)
who Layman insulted and turned his back on to walk inside his house. Layman
was promptly speared and died shortly afterwards. Another account states
that Layman had insulted Gaywal in front of his tribe by pulling his beard
and that led to the spearing. Other sources suggest that Layman had been
targeted in retaliation for punishment handed out to another Aborigine who
had (according to local settlers) not been sufficiently punished the first
time and received a harsher sentence for the same offence.
After the spearing the usual period of ‘native pacification’ followed. At
least five Aborigines were shot in punitive raids and after that there were
no more reported spearings of settlers.
Captain John Molloy and his wife finally abandoned Augusta and joined the
Bussells building a property he called Fair Lawn near the Vasse River. Sadly
his young wife (now only in her 30s) died in April 1843 some few months
after giving birth to the couple’s last daughter.
The name Busselton first appears in records of the Surveyor General in June
1835. The locals persisted in calling the area Vasse until around the turn
of the century when Busselton began to take over.
Famous for it’s
(constructed between 1864-1875), Busselton is
starting to become a little overdeveloped, but it is still a nice place to
spend a few relaxing days. There are a number of excellent caravan parks,
dog friendly beaches, and a special parking area in town for large vehicles.
The town is situated at the north end of the wine-growing district of
Cowaramup / Margaret River
and it is a popular alternative to staying in Augusta or Margaret River.
Over the last 10 years, the wineries have developed an inflated idea of how
good their wines are, and the prices have inflated at a similar rate. Not
all wine in the area is good – some is pretty awful - and similar vintages
can be bought in any bottle shop for about half the price. Still the
wineries are popular with yuppies and others with more money than sense.
On Peel Terrace is the Old Butter Factory which is now a folk museum. It
dates from 1918 and now houses a good collection of items and artifacts from
the surrounding area.
The area has undergone a boom in population in recent times and this is
gradually destroying the relaxed seaside town atmosphere that brought people
here in the first place.
The tuart forest that spreads along the coast north of
Busselton is the only natural stand of eucalyptus gomphocephala in the
world. At one time it was extensively logged but luckily what remains today
was preserved as national park before it was all