TENDER TO BUSSELTON
DAY 70 - 21 MARCH 2023 (SHIP'S date)
PERTH / ENROUTE TO PORT LOUIS MAURITIUS
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting from Queen Mary 2
Busselton is a city on the southwest tip of Australia. It is known for its sheltered beaches and seasonal humpback whale populations. The beachfront features the 19th century Busselton Jetty. This wood pier stretches nearly 2kms to the Underwater Observatory, where life in a coral reef is on view. Founded in 1832 by the Bussell family,
Busselton is 220kilometers(140 miles) south west of Perth, the capital of Western Australia. Busselton has been voted Western Australia’s Top Tourist Town three times. It’s easy to see why.
Setting foot on the wooden jetty after a three-mile transfer by ship’s tender is like stepping into a hallmark movie. Smiling faces line the jetty welcoming passengers and offering helping hands to step ashore. The weather is glorious and the tender ride benefits from no wind and only a slight sea swell. Construction of the Busselton Jetty began in 1865 and was completed with a last extension to its current 1.841kms in 1960. Eighteen years later a cyclone inflicted major damage to the jetty.
Safety concerns closed the jetty for some years but operations re-commenced in 2011, and in 2017 an electric train was added. John Bussell, a member of the founding family, walked the jetty (up and back) 151 times, 580kms over 14 days raising over 5,000$A for the jetty by sponsorship. A noble effort but when the jetty was next refurbished, it cost 27 million$A.
Busselton is a relatively new town being founded in the 1840’s and many descendants of the founding families still live and do business in the town.
The snowy-white beach, steps away from the pier, has sand that is fine as sugar and the seawater is clear enough to study many varieties of fish without snorkelling equipment.The beach attracts families and young people. Most enjoy the natural attractions of the beach without the benefit of noisy jet skis, banana boats or hang-gliders.
Busselton appears to belong to another era, a retro time before television, electronic games and internet dominated our lives. Think TV shows from the 1950’s, rock ‘n roll not hip hop. As if to prove the point, on a short walk to the city centre, lined up on the foreshore, a dazzling collection of vintage cars. Shiny and gleaming, looking brand-new as if they’d just left the showroom. Jaguars, Austin 7’s , Corvettes, lovingly maintained by enthusiastic members of the local Veteran Car Club.
Bussleton is mainly composed of one-or two-story properties, simple brick buildings that have stood the test of time even if their original usage has been repurposed. Coffee houses on every corner, the Old Court House by the Sea is a cultural centre with a Lockup Coffee House, and the Fire Station has transformed into a café/bar. Clubs and associations abound in this community and Acting Up is the South West’s Academy of Performing Arts.
On the main street, there are eye catching ironwork statues of an Aboriginal warrior, and that founding family again, entrepreneur John Russell. It is by a mere quirk of fate that the city is named Bussell – ton. In the early settler days, times were hard and in a search for the best place to lay foundations of a community, guidance came from a cow. The animal had become lost and when located he appeared to have found an accessible watering hole and lush pasture. A decision was taken to set up camp and call the settlement, Cow Chosen. Cow Chosen was overruled and the name of a trusted leader, known as Bussell, was chosen and continues to this day.
Busselton was one of the first towns founded by Europeans in Western Australia. The Bussells and also others of the earliest families, the Molloys, Balschins and Blechyndens, Chapmans and Capel Carter maintained their connections and actively funded and built the church, St May’s which opened in 1848.
Many of the founding fathers are buried in the church’s graveyard. Whaling was one of the industries that gave Bussleton its prosperity and seasonal visits from those magnificent creatures still take place. The main trade now is tourism and new developments and accommodation to serve visitors can be seen all over town.
Construction cranes are a prominent feature on the foreshore and multi-story buildings encourage holiday-makers. Hopefully those good citizens whose ancestors helped found the town are maintaining a balance between attracting people who add to the local economy and becoming a region where visitors priorities eclipse those of residents.
Busselton is an oasis of tranquillity and uniqueness. Maybe a throwback to an earlier era but no worse for that. Cruise ship passengers make their way in reverse out of town, past the foreshore.along the snowy white sand up on to the jetty, to join a line waiting to enter tenders and return to the Queen Mary2 anchored out at sea. A constant interchange of tenders takes place all day, bringing passengers from the ship to the shore and from pier back to the ship.
“Sorry for the wait,“ said one of Cunard’s team on the jetty. “Passengers are still coming out from the ship and there is a long line waiting to return to the ship.”As the last guest boarded the tender, he asked his colleague, “Who would have guessed that over a thousand passengers would choose to visit a little seaside town like Busselton? Visit it they did, and chances are, many will return.
NEXT REPORT: PERTH, FREMANTLE
Happy Sailing... Ellen
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Current position of Queen Mary 2:
ENROUTE TO PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS
SEVEN DAYS AT SEA !!!
Photo of the day (from the archives of JD Schwartz)
Further updates will be posted as soon as we get them from Ellen onboard Queen Mary 2.