We had 7 nights at the Busselton Jetty Tourist Park (previously known as Kookaburra Caravan Park) over Easter. We loved the location, right across the road from the foreshore walking path and 1.8km long jetty. On a number of mornings we woke up, made a tea or coffee and took it with us for a walk along the foreshore. Em rode her bike along the path and we would return to camp hungry. Food always tastes better after a bit of physical activity, and the mornings that we did the foreshore walk Em ate all of her breakfast with no complaints or mucking around. She was ravenous after pedalling those little legs in the fresh air.
A highlight of the caravan park was that it was also home to approximately 70 of the endangered ring tailed possums. We had one living in the tree above our camper and spotted a bunch more on our nightly walks to and from the toilet block.
When we arrived Busselton’s beautiful beaches were covered in seaweed.
We met a local later in the trip that told us that the seaweed had only arrived the week before. Stirred up by a cyclone up north the currents pushed the seaweed to the shore. Such a shame it arrived just before one of the biggest holiday weeks of the year. The council were madly trying to clear a section of the beach on the Thursday before Good Friday when the majority of people would arrive.
Beaches full of seaweed meant we had to travel a little further to enjoy beautiful beaches. Luckily the whole region is filled with them so we went to Yallingup and Dunsborough for a couple of lovely beach mornings. Yallingup has an incredible kids playground loosely designed around a Pirate Ship. Em loved the cresting blue wave and the balance surfboard so after a short play we walked down the few stairs to a beautiful seaweed free beach for a few lovely hours.
Rick played with Em in the water while I sat in the sand. I took the time to notice my breath deepening with each salty inhale and listened to the rhythmic crash of the waves landing ashore. I find it deeply calming and it doesn’t take long for my mind to settle while it is absorbed with the natural environment. When Rick and Em raced back to me laughing and dripping wet looking for a towel and a bucket and spade I felt almost as though I was in a trance. We were all so happy and it is because of moments like these that we are addicted to holidays. Those are the moments that we live for.
One of the best things about camping is the lack of television and devices. Instead you are living most of the time outdoors. Em did not ask to watch television or a movie even once in the 7 nights we were away. Once we returned home she still went for another 2 days before she asked to watch a movie. Her favourite part of the trip was being able to ride her bike along the foreshore path and once we arrived home she spent a lot of time in the backyard riding her bike around and around. By taking her away from everyday life she has the opportunity to experience the simple pleasures that give her so much joy. And as any parent knows, watching your happy child in turn makes you happy too.
We filled our time with lovely walks working up a hunger every morning before breakfast. One morning we went for a walk through Ambergate Reserve, which is a 4km track through some bushland. The bushland is fractured by 2 roads running through the centre of it which effectively broke the walk into 4 parts as you had to cross the road 4 times to carry on the walk. It was a bush track but we were still able to push the stroller through a good part of it. A few times Em had to get off and walk which she had a bit of a whinge about. So we tried to turn it into a game. I was walking first along the track, Rick following and pushing Em in the stroller. We had chosen this strategy as snake season is not yet over so I was able to look out for any snakes. We were also the first to walk the track that day and we found a number of spider webs across the path. I was carrying a stick trying to clear any as we walked. Every time I cleared one away I would turn to Em, raise my stick in the air and shout “I am the hero! I have saved you from the spider web!” and she would shout back, “I am the hero”. We would have a laugh and carry on.
The walk had signs identifying a number of trees and plants along the way. We found 2 different grass trees – the Balga and the Australis – noticing the difference in the flowers, one had a long stem with hundreds of flowers on the one stem. The other had a shorter stem with a ball of flowers at the end. Another plant was identified as ‘Jackson Horribillis’ (the name may not be correct but it was something similar to this). We were imagining one of the first botanists to the area naming the plant after the captain of their ship which we found quite amusing.
Another day we walked a part of the Cape to Cape track. On our first day in Busselton we went into the tourist information centre and asked what the best walks were to do in the area. She gave us a brochure about part of the cape to cape track which has been made accessible for everyone (meaning 3.4km of it is on paths and boardwalks so you can push a wheelchair, or, as in our case, a stroller). The walk began at Cape Naturalist lighthouse following the coast until we reached Sugarloaf rock. For almost the whole walk you have a view of sparkling blue water, beautiful coastline and striking rocks. Tiny little birds are flying half hidden between the low lying shrubs. And on the day that we did the walk the sun was intermittently shining down on us and then hiding between the clouds, the temperature sitting in the low 20s. It was the perfect day for a walk.
Em did a good portion of the walk herself though at times she filled her pockets with roasted chicpeas and sat in the pram munching on them while we walked, pushing her along. We renamed Sugarloaf rock as ‘Mermaid Rock’ to keep her interested and we made a number of stops to look at rock formations down on the beach and decide which ones were the most likely to be the beach fairy castles. (These are the things you do to keep a 4 year old girl interested on long nature hikes). Once we arrived at Sugarloaf rock we sat at the edge of the stairs to eat our oranges. They were so sweet juicy and delicious – the walk having made them even more so. As I turned to sit down I saw a pod of dolphins swimming down in the ocean. We were able to watch them for a few minutes swimming and jumping through the waves. Em was just a bit disappointed she didn’t see mermaids but we told her the mermaids may have been dressed at dolphins that day and she seemed satisfied with that. After our little rest we had to head back to the lighthouse at Cape Naturalist. The walk had taken us 2 and a half hours which we felt was a good effort, though many would do it much quicker without a child.
As we were camping at Busselton Jetty tourist park, we were pretty much directly opposite Busselton’s number 1 tourist attraction. You need to pay a small fee to walk on the Busselton Jetty ($4) between the hours of 9 and 5. One morning we did the long walk out starting at 7.30. Doing the walk so early meant that we didn’t have to pay the entry fee. It also meant we didn’t have to dodge the train that runs from one end to the other. As the jetty is 1.8km long it is a decent walk to the end and back again. We had chosen to do it before breakfast and by the time we returned I was famished. For the last portion of the walk my mind was on breakfast, going through all of the different options until I finally settled on a cheese, tomato and jalapeno toasted sandwich once we returned to camp.
Rick and Em returned to the jetty another day for a train ride down the length of the jetty. I chose to stay at camp and have a couple of quiet child free hours. While I napped and read my book, they lined up to buy tickets ($14 adult and $7 per child). It was Easter Saturday and extremely busy so they were lucky to get the 2 last seats on the ride. (We were all lucky really because it would have been meltdown central if Em had have missed out!). Em as usual made friends everywhere she went. Another young boy about her age was going on about the ‘silly train’ which had Em giggling. It didn’t take long until they were both giggling about ‘silly bums’. The ‘silly’ game ended when an exasperated woman good naturedly said, ‘silly kids’ which Em found hilarious and recounted the whole story to me once they returned to camp.
There is a lot more that you can do on the jetty like the Underwater Observatory and Interpretive Centre which we left for another time. We had also planned on visiting the Busselton museum but there was a fire in the museum while we were there and so it was closed while they assessed the damage. We did make time to visit the old Courthouse Precinct which was a highlight. We had a look at the Art Galleries, which Em enjoyed to the sounds of us saying repeatedly, ‘Look but don’t touch. Look but don’t touch.’ She is pretty good really. She asked what each picture was called and wouldn’t let us skip even one.
The old Courthouse itself and the Jail were great. We made it in just before closing time on our last day and I am glad that we didn’t miss it. The old courthouse has a book of stories from when the building was really used as a courthouse and jail. My favourite story was about a couple of escapees. One had managed to escape and evaded recapture for about a week. The other was caught pretty much immediately and his excuse for escaping was that he was trying to call the other escapee back! We walked through the old jail cells and took some photos. They have a great feature in the jail where you can take your own mugshot with a few signs to choose from outlining the charge. Rick was jailed for Drunkenness and Em was jailed for Disorderly conduct. I was amazed at the accuracy of the charges!
We also visited Simmos Ice Creamery in Dunsborough one afternoon as I had read about it previously. It was about $6 for an adults 2 scoop icecream but each ‘scoop’ was really about 4 scoops in one! We skipped lunch that day and had icecream instead. They had about 60 flavours to choose from and we sampled 5 of them between the 3 of us. I had a malteaser white chocolate and caramel crunch. I don’t know what the others had…I was too busy concentrating on mine! Simmos was not just an ice cream shop. It had a massive garden with a kids playground, a bunch of coin operated kids rides, a jumping castle, mini golf and even a barbeque for people who wanted to make a day of it and bring their own lunch.
We filled our time easily with Busselton’s attractions as well as attractions in the wider region, but we also had plenty of time to rest and relax. Busselton is only 2 and a half hours from Perth so when we packed up and left after one week we were home by lunch time, unpacked and cleaned up and still had time to sit back and rest before returning to work the next day.