Look out Rotto, there’s a new island chain on the Western Australian tourism to-do list, relatively un-touched and awaiting discovery. If you’ve covered every inch of the quokka-covered delight that is Rottnest Island, maybe it’s time you start thinking about a trip north, to the Abrolhos Islands just off the coast of Geraldton.
The 122-island archipelago contains some of the bluest waters in the country, so steeped in biodiversity that it has recently been declared a national park.
Accessible by plane (30 minutes) or boat from Geraldton (just under five hours from Perth), the chain was up until recently the domain of commercial fishermen, but more and more doors to tourism are opening up by the day. With no building developments to be seen, it’s become a haven for people seeking nature-fuelled discovery and the chance to switch off from the normal world.
Cray fishing, fishing, diving, snorkelling, exploring… It truly is an adventurer’s paradise, and if you’re not sold yet we’ll drill it down for you even further:
Flyovers & Boat Trips
There are plenty of operators in the area waiting to help you discover the Abrolhos Islands, with half- and full-day flight tours available with either Geraldton Air Charter or Shine Aviation, along with boat trips exploring the chain’s three main areas – Wallabi, Easter and Pelsaert. Some local operators, like Abrolhos Adventures, offer high speed ferry trips for extra exploring, while others like Eco Abrolhos allow you to stay on board a boat in the islands for a few days to allow plenty of time for fishing, snorkelling, island exploring, and spotting sea lions, wallabies, lizards and more…
As we mentioned above, the Abrolhos Islands are a biodiversity hotspot, thanks to its location in the stream of the warm, southward-flowing Leeuwin Current.
A meeting place for tropical and temperate sea life, it’s a home for a huge array of animals including:
– Over 2 million birds from 35 species that breed on the islands AKA a bird-watcher’s paradise.
– Huge colonies of marine mammals, including Australian sea lions and bottlenose dolphins, along with migrating humpback whales around July-October.
– It’s also a fisher and diver’s paradise, with an abundance of incredible fish, including baldchin groper, dhufish, Sampson fish, snapper and coral trout, along with octopus, scallops and of course the Coral Coast’s most prized catch – the Western Rock Lobster (just be sure to check for fishing regulations/exclusion zones or even better, opt for a local tour operator).
– On-land marsupials, in particular the Tammar Wallaby, which may just be the Coral Coast’s answer to the Quokka.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the infamous Batavia, a ship that was wrecked in 1629 on Morning Reef (part of the Wallabi island group), and its one of many ships wrecked on the Abrolhos Island’s treacherous atolls. History and naval buffs must add the Geraldton Museum’s Shipwrecks Gallery to their itinerary.
For a full rundown of tour operators in the area, head to HERE, and start planning today.
Cover photo by Richard Rossiter