'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. 1901.
Although written well over 100 years ago, these words still ring true today.
Famous for it's long jetty (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.
If you are shopping for wines in the area then our advice is to visit many different wineries and taste and try before you buy. Many wines are very good but some are
little more than over-priced vinegar, so shop wisely.
On Peel Terrace is the Old Butter Factory that is now a folk museum. It dates from 1918 and now houses a good collection of items and artifacts from the surrounding area.
The reigon 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 wiped out.
Busselton Jetty - Quick facts.
1841 metres long makes this the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere.
Construction started in 1864 using locally cut hardwood timber.
The first jetty was only 528 feet long and a 430 foot extension was added in 1875.
Six more extensions followed with the final one being completed in 1960.
The jetty closed to shipping in 1973.
In 1978 Cyclone Alby demolished a large section of the jetty 9 million dollars were raised to repair the jetty.
In 1999 a fire damaged the jetty but once again it was repaired.
An underwater observatory and the jetty train help to attract over 200,000 visitors to the structure each year.
Early European exploration of the region began in 1801 with the French explorer Baudin.
He named Geographe 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).)
Settlement came in 1831 when John Garrett Bussell
led a party north from the failing settlement at Augusta.
The first town site 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 town 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 their land.
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 attackers off.
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.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
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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.
State : Vasse
Federal : Forrest
Postcode : 6280
Local Government : Shire of Busselton
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