Busselton observatory set to be world's biggest

Australia's largest natural marine observatory at the end of the Busselton Jetty is about to become the biggest in the world following $13 million in funding from the Australian Government's Regional Growth Fund.

The Busselton Jetty is the second most visited tourist attraction in WA and longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere measuring 1.8 kilometres in length.

Once complete the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre will feature the largest windows in the world, new underwater habitats, underwater dining and function centre with lighting, high tech exhibitions, educational spaces and environmental learning areas.

Forrest MP Nola Marino made the announcement following Jetstar's news that it would fly directly between Melbourne to Busselton, bringing 60,000 Eastern States visitors each year to the region.

Mrs Marino said the AUDC would help secure the jetty's visitor appeal well into the future, adding more layers to the whole experience.

"Visitors, businesses, tour groups and locals will all benefit from this investment in what is a world class tourism destination here in our South-West," she said.

"Construction alone will create nearly 200 jobs and operations will create nearly 2500 jobs over coming years as cafes, hotels, service stations, retail stores and the like all prosper, returning some $200 million in economic benefit to WA."

BJI chair Jenny Sheehan said the current Underwater Observatory, with 34 per cent international visitation, would reach capacity in 2022.

Ms Sheehan said they would have to start turning people away because it could only cater for 44 people per hour on tour, whereas the new AUDC would cater for 140 people per hour.

"BJI started looking at ways to meet visitor demand in 2017 after completing two feasibility studies and a Market Research Study," she said.

"We determined that expanding our current unique Underwater Observatory was the best way to grow the business and also help us meet our environmental goals.

"This project will include enhancing the artificial reef at the end of the jetty, increasing marine life and ultimately ensuring the sustainability of the Busselton Jetty for another 100 years."

Busselton Jetty chief executive officer Lisa Shreeve said BJI worked with several universities and research organisations to investigate the current UWO becoming a marine research field station.

The iconic Busselton Jetty and Underwater Observatory are already catalysts to encouraging more than 500,000 visitors per year to visit WA because of their uniqueness.

The AUDC build total cost is $30 million with $20 million now secured and announcements expected soon about the final $10 million.

Project construction is due to commence in January 2021 and be completed by March 2022 with the AUDC expected to be floated in as the current UWO was, but installed at the western end of the Jetty.