The new solar powered train on the Busselton Jetty rolls out from the station filled with excited families.
Judging by the children onboard, the train ride itself is already a big hit, but what awaits them at the Underwater Observatory near the end of the jetty will leave lasting memories.
For many, it will be the fist time they see what lies beneath the surface of the water. It’s a chance to view the colourful coral and sponges on the jetty pylons and the fish swimming amongst them from the safety of the observatory …
But what they are really looking forward to is seeing mermaids.
These mythical creatures are part of folklore in many cultures worldwide and they have captured the imagination of children across the world after starring in popular movies like The Little Mermaid and Mermaid’s Tale.
At the observatory we are greeted by our guide Chelsea Kawiti who leads our group into the deep under the jetty.
Walking down into the observatory is like walking into an aquarium except we aren’t getting wet. The kids are loving it, they crowd around the large windows to see the underwater world. The colourful pylons are close the the windows so it’s easy for everyone to see the coral and sponges that grow on them and there’s plenty of fish cruising past.
Chelsea, who joined the Jetty team recently as a trainee, does an excellent job explaining about the history of the jetty and the sea-life outside the windows but to be honest, it is mostly for the benefit of the adults on the tour. The children are just too excited to see what’s outside the windows.
Everyone is keeping a sharp eye out for the elusive mermaids and the noise and excitement goes up a couple of extra notches when magically one appears. Mermaid Nixie swims past the windows and waves to us. Luckily she seems to enjoy our company so she does several dives so everyone gets a chance to see her.
Unknown to a lot of the young children, being a mermaid is not easy. The costume weighs 25 kg and it takes about 20 minutes and a lot of coconut oil to put on the tail. The mermaids undergo special training to learn to manage swimming with the mermaid tail and to hold their breath for up to 3 minutes.
It’s been a good morning for us all … a train ride to the end of the longest timber jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, a glimpse of what life is like underneath the jetty and most importantly, we have seen mermaids.
The Busselton Jetty Mermaid Tours include a return train ride, a guided tour of the Underwater Observatory and an all day Jetty pass. A family pass for 2 adults and 2 children cost $119. Individual entry cost $39 per adult and $25 per child.