Future Developments at Busselton Jetty
Being innovative and constantly developing new ideas is crucial for the survival of the Jetty which relies on the successful tourism operations of Busselton Jetty Inc (BJI) to fund its maintenance (average annual cost of $1.1million).
For the past 32-years BJI, a community profit-for-purpose organisation, has been successfully raising funds and implementing initiatives that have ensured the ongoing preservation of the Jetty for future generations. Without the dedication, passion and commitment of the voluntary board and staff, the Jetty would not exist. Last year BJI contributed $839,612 from ticket sales back into the conservation of the 154-year-old Jetty to ensure its sustainability.
Visitors to the Jetty continue to increase rapidly each year, numbers have grown from 395,000 in 2014/15 to 529,375 visitors in 2018/19. The 16-year-old Underwater Observatory, the star attraction of the Jetty, currently only accommodates 44 people per tour. With such high demand, it will be at full capacity by 2023, as visitor numbers continue to increase.
Planning for the future has been a big focus in 2018/19 and a new world-class attraction is being developed in three stages:
Stage 1: Designated Safe Swimming Area (Dec 2019)
Stage 2: Building a new Village at the end of the Jetty (Oct 2020)
Stage 3: Building the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre (AUDC).
These new developments will be the catalyst to bring people to Busselton, to Western Australia and with only five other natural aquariums in the world, it will also be an incentive for people to visit Australia.
Designated Safe Swimming Area
BJI is seeking to extend its tourism products to value add to its existing portfolio to encourage visitors to “spend a day at the Jetty”. The first stage of the activation of the end of the Jetty is to add a Designated Swimming Area for the opportunity for the provision of supervised activities such as snorkelling, diving and other ocean recreation experiences. It is proposed that the Designated Swimming Area be created towards the end of the Jetty, to provide visitors with safe access to an enclosed area of water for activities.
Almost 7,000 visitor surveys have indicated that visitors would like to be more immersed in the unique marine life at the end of the Jetty, literally in the water, or through virtual reality and other technology. Many commented that they want to participate in some type of water based swimming or snorkelling tour. Feedback suggests that the provision of a specified safe area for these activities to take place would provide some comfort to visitors.
The creation of the Designated Swimming Area includes creating a visually prominent floating enclosure, providing a rest pontoon and shark mitigation measures. Hiring of equipment including wetsuits, snorkels, masks and fins would take place from a designated area near the Universal Access Platform. Participants will have the option of hiring equipment only or hiring equipment and participating in a tour. In all instances, those people using the Designated Swimming Area will be supervised for the duration of time they are in the water.
The Village is a giant glasshouse built from polycarbonate, featuring clear bi-fold doors that open to the ocean and light up the end of the Jetty at night. There’s a Sunset Bar, Café, marine interpretation zone, environmental education zone and event space. The Marine Interpretation Zone will feature information on Geographe Bay’s marine life including whales and sharks, as well as the unique Jetty marine life which is only there due to the shade of the Jetty, pylons and Leeuwin current.
The Environmental Education Zone will promote Clean Oceans, No Plastics and other information. These zones will be inviting multi-purpose spaces providing interactive scientific activities including aquariums, touch-pool, multi-sensory and participatory activities, illustrative media and interpretation.
The Village is currently at the final design stage, SMC Marine has been awarded the building contract and it is expected to open in September/October 2020.
Australian Underwater Observatory
In 2017 BJI received grant funding to complete a Feasibility Study into building a large new Marine Discovery Centre to accommodate for increasing visitors, to add value to the existing Observatory (built in 2003) and to attract new visitors to Western Australia.
After two years of investigations, and many different business ideas tested, the best social, economic and environmental outcome was to do what Busselton Jetty does best – build on its comparative advantage of having one of the most unique underwater observatories and natural aquariums in the world, but do it bigger and better!
The current Observatory can only house 44 visitors and is one of only 6 in the world, the others being in Guam, Israel, Japan and New Zealand (2). Although the current Observatory has larger windows than other natural observatories, the new Discovery Centre will feature a much larger viewing area, better technology, more interactive facilities, underwater dining areas, function space and more marine educational resources including a marine laboratory and facilities for school groups. It will also allow 35 people to go into the venue at once on a guided tour every 15-minutes, ie 140 people per hour.
The development of the discovery centre will occur in two stages, with The Village glasshouse completed first, then a new underwater observatory on the western side of the Jetty. It will also be able to cater inside for events, dining, functions, lectures, marine research, school programs and more.
Click here to view a Flythrough of the proposed Australian Underwater Observatory.
The project complements other work BJI is doing in creating more artificial reef to enhance the Fish Habitat Protection Area at the end of the Busselton Jetty, aquaculture trials and marine research.
Other Developments on Busselton Foreshore
The City of Busselton and Pacifica Developments have signed a memorandum of understanding to construct a 4.5 star Hilton hotel at Lot 600 Foreshore Parade. The hotel will provide a range of amenities and services including short stay accommodation (110 to 120 rooms); meeting and boardroom facilities, restaurant and dining options, a roof top function centre and parking. The luxury hotel will offer views of Busselton Jetty and Geographe Bay.
It is expected the development will take between 12 to 18 months to complete once building commences.
Construction of the new Geographe Bay Brewing Co microbrewery and family restaurant commences on August 13th. The two storey development will house a restaurant, upstairs function centre, alfresco dining, wide sweeping verandas and will add some theatre to the foreshore with an operational microbrewery in public view. It will be located on the Busselton foreshore between the amphitheatre and Railway House and is expected to be open in Sept 2020.