There to Here – Western Australia, Here We Come

There to Here – Western Australia, Here We Come

We pick up our From There to Here story in Esperance, Western Australia.  Making landfall in Esperance after the long passage in and across the Great Australian Bight was welcome in many ways. Though the passage across the Bight was challenging, it was also amazing. Now that is was behind us, however, getting back to civilization definitely had its pluses.

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Busselton to Bunbury

Another grueling passage, 26nm, but, like the old salts we are, we bore up and managed to drop the hook by late afternoon. This was the most uneventful, motor-sail you could imagine. No wind, no waves, no swell. We motored from the anchorage, around the end of the Busselton Jetty, set a northwest course across Geographe Bay for Bunbury and proceeded to eat breakfast and chat while we puttered along. For awhile, we noted that our course was 007 … that was about as exciting as things got.


Pretty slow news day, I'd say! We just sailed from there to here and that was it. I guess some days are just like that … no distinction, just blending together in a blur.

end of long breakwater

Once arriving in Bunbury and rounding the end of the jetty into Koombana Bay, things appeared more interesting. First of all, they have a very interesting lighthouse here with black and white geometric designs painted on it. That falls into the must-see category especially because it's on a foreshore walk.

bunbury lighthouse

Bunbury is the third largest city in Western Australia and an active shipping port for woodchips, minerals and grains. We passed three large bulk carriers that were anchored on the way in and the dock looks to be loading one ship now. We were pleased there were no ships coming or going when we made our entrance. That always adds excitement to the day.

ship at dock

We can see the Bunbury Tower, affectionately known by locals as “the Milk Carton”, that dominates the cityscape. From our vantage point, both the tower and the Koombana Sailing Club are in clear view.

milk carton and koombana sail club

The city definitely appeals to our curious interests, but at the moment, it's cold and windy today and we're happy to remain aboard. Always tomorrow.

Bustle-less Busselton

We're still here in Busselton. We spent yesterday aboard because of strong winds from the W/NW. One thing about anchoring, when the winds change direction and increase dramatically, there's always a chance of dragging. Staying aboard is the prudent thing to do. Sometimes we use that as an excuse for being lazy, but in this case, it was a legitimate reason. Not to mention, I've had a miserable cold, so staying aboard was fine. And,actually, pics from the boat weren't all that bad. We had a pretty good view.


Anyhow, back ashore today, it was good to stretch our legs and venture out a bit further than Busselton's iconic jetty. The foreshore is very well appointed with paths, protected swimming areas and lots of tree-covered picnic spots and roaming around space. There are several little restaurants and souvenir shops. There's a climbing wall for kids and huge trampolines with bungee harnesses that let the kids bounce extremely high with minimal worry of injury. It looked like fun.

kids on tramps

There's artwork placed here and there. I especially liked the bronze bust of French explorer/navigator Nicolas Baudin … mostly because I could get a pic of Cups at anchor into the same shot.

baudin and cups

We walked up Queen Street, a pleasant boulevard lined with shops, leading directly from the beach to the town center. We stopped at the Court House thinking it was just a coffee shop and soon found out it was an historic place as well as a gallery displaying local artists' works. Much of the old court house/police station/jail (gaol) was still intact including the court room and jail cells. Since David was in his Alcatraz t-shirt, it seemed most appropriate to take his mug shot and put him behind bars … all before we had our flat whites.

behind bars

Across the street, a statue in front of the GeoArt Building caught our eye and we walked over to check it out. It was a life-size bronze of a pregnant woman standing next to a large trunk entitled “The Whaler's Wife”. The story surprised us. During American whaling voyages, sometimes officers brought their wives along. During the voyage, many of the women became pregnant and were left in Busselton to fend for themselves while their husbands went back to whaling … sometimes for a year or more. If educated, the women could often find room and board in exchange for teaching. What a hard life for these women and a compelling story to tell in this artform.

whalers wife

With such an introduction, we had to see what else GeoArt offered and since it was open, we went in. It's not particularly large and we soon found out that The Whaler's Wife was unveiled recently and is the first in a series called The Settlement Art Project. The current exhibition is entitled Sandakan: The Story that Must Be Told and it is most appropriate having just celebrated ANZAC. It tells the story of the internment of Australian and Allied soldiers and the Sandakan forced death marches in Borneo during the Second World War. It is compelling and horrific at the same time ... a testament of man's inhumanity to man. Reading the accounts and looking at the exhibits brought tears to our eyes. It was one of those things that are worth seeing, but will be troubling to our hearts and minds for a long time.

sandoken exhibit

Needing to lighten up a bit, we continued up Queen Street. I must note here that we haven't seen a traffic light in a very long time. Australians, like the British, used roundabouts (rotaries/traffic circles) most effectively and there's one at every major intersection.

traffic circle

The school holidays are over, by the way, and it was ever-so-evident in town. Where the foreshore and jetty were crowded and bustling over the weekend, today was just the opposite. It was bustle-less. Many of the seasonal shops, like the dive shop for instance, have just changed to winter hours. Many of the restaurants were closed or had limited hours. Winter is fast approaching and it's time for us to head north, then west. Maybe starting tomorrow?

In the meantime, here's a sunrise shot of the iconic Busselton Jetty. It's always beautiful.

busselton jetty at sunrise