Busselton Jetty Timeline

The Busselton Jetty is one of the most recognizable icons in Western Australia. It currently stands at 1841 metres in length making it the longest wooden piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. It is now used exclusively for tourism and recreation but it has a colourful past as a working jetty. In the early years of European settlement in the Busselton/Vasse region, agriculture was the main commercial activity undertaken. Crops such as wheat, barley and oats were grown, although wheat quickly became the most successful. Livestock such as sheep, pigs and cattle were also raised. Some of these stocks were exported from the area as early as 1858. The timber industry was also underway at this time with the government offering large concessions and special timber licenses in 1850. This led to the first of the region’s timber mills being built in Quindalup in 1858. American whalers also recognized Geographe Bay as a bountiful source of whales and these sailors regularly dropped off large amounts of whale oil and picked up supplies from the settlers of the South West. A light beacon was erected in 1836 as a navigational aid. This beacon consisted of a spar – 10m high with a barrel containing a lamp on top. This rudimentary light house was affectionately known as ‘The Tub’ and was located north of the Marine Terrace and Queen Street junction.


Timeline 1

The need for a jetty in the Busselton region was first publicly recognised and the government called for tenders.


Timeline 2

Action was finally taken when Henry Yelverton made a proclamation that “Vasse port, the first on the coast, needs a jetty”. At this time in history, there were no income taxes and the government relied heavily on the tax gained from imports and exports.


Timeline 3

Many ships were landing in the bay and thereby avoiding taxes and government charges. Due to this and the recognized benefit of a jetty to the fledgling settlement, tenders were once again called for the construction of a jetty in Busselton. Mr Henry Yelverton won the contract and began construction.


Timeline 4

The jetty was completed at the end of 1865 – only 33 years after settlement of the area. This construction was 176m in length. The high tide mark of the jetty would have been situated where the junction of Marine Terrace and Queen Street is today, some 200m from the current tide mark. Although the industries of agriculture, whaling and tourism all benefited from the improvements to the port of Busselton, the timber industry boomed post 1865.


Timeline 5

A lighthouse replaced ‘The Tub’ and was built 20m high and made of Jarrah. The kerosene lamp projected a light that could be seen for 20 miles seaward. This light house stood until 1933 when it was demolished and replaced with a smaller beacon placed at the end of the jetty.


Timeline 6

The jetty required more length for ships which found the waters of Geographe Bay too shallow and so the first extension was made to the jetty for a cost of 88 pounds.


Timeline 7

The municipal council deemed this extension inadequate and another 143.3m was added for the sum of 626 pounds.  The low water mark at the seaward end of the jetty was now at a depth of 3.6m.

The silting action continued along the beach and the local government was once again under pressure to complete another extension.


Timeline 8

Henry Yelverton was once again awarded a contract to complete another extension.   The equipment needed included a pile frame, and an iron weight known as a ‘monkey and a strong horse’.  The jetty was constructed by skidding out two strong beams over the water which supported the pile frame, the horse was used to pull the ‘monkey’ up through a system of pullies and trips until the weight was high enough to drop onto the pile with enough force to drive it into the sand.


Timeline 9

The required equipment was located and the next extension of 229m was added to the jetty.


Timeline 10

This was still not enough for the timber industry and a further extension was again called for.  Another 353m were added.