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The whale-like structure will be opposite the existing observatory, which struggled to accommodate the 700,000 visitors it received on average in the years before the pandemic. Rather than remove the old observatory, officials will turn it into a working science lab and ocean conservation education center.

“This new center is an investment in our local community, and hopefully we’ll be able to share it with people from around the globe soon,” said Lisa Shreeve, chief executive of Busselton Jetty. “There’s something here for everyone.”

Through strict lockdowns, Australia has managed the pandemic well, with lower Covid-19 infection and death rates than many comparable developing countries, according to a report released in December by McKinsey & Company. “Its economic downturn during the pandemic has also been less pronounced than in many comparable economies,” the report said.

But that hasn’t stopped migration shifts, especially the growing attraction of leaving major cities for coastal enclaves. On the East Coast, both Sydney and Melbourne registered population losses last year as people flocked to coastal and regional towns, seeking solace and space.

“Covid has fast-forwarded Australians’ desire to be closer to the water and the result is that smaller but high-amenity towns are booming,” Mr. Coster said.