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Western Australia's Secret Holiday Islands

Home > Australia > Nature | Long Weekend | Island Hopping | Environment | Animals and Wildlife
by Carolyn Hopping (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published September 23rd 2012
Paradise exists in our own backyard
Generally when West Australians consider escaping to an island resort, the first place which comes to mind is Bali. Locally, Rottnest Island is also a strong contender, as are the more well-known resorts 'over east' on the Great Barrier Reef. However, what many people don't realise is that Western Australia has some very special, albeit secret, holiday islands of its own, most of which are situated just off our vast coastline.

Image from the Mackerel Islands website
Image from the Mackerel Islands website

The fact that most of these islands are little known is a great advantage as most are unspoilt wilderness areas which offer pristine beaches and unpolluted ocean habitats perfect for relaxing, swimming, snorkelling and diving. Whether you're an artist, an adventurer, a nature-lover or are simply looking for a special family holiday destination, Western Australia's islands will surely offer a holiday experience with a difference. The following is a short run-down about these special places and the eco retreats which are situated on them.

Woody Island
Woody Island is the only inhabited island of the Recherche Archipelago (also known as the Bay of Isles), a group of 105 islands which extend 230 kilometres along the south coast, near Esperance. Largely isolated from the rest of the world, they are a haven for marine wildlife such as Australian sea lions, dolphins, whales and New Zealand Fur Seals. While it's possible to take wildlife cruises around the islands, the eco retreat on Woody Island is the only place where visitors can stay overnight.

Image from the Esperance Island Cruises website
Image from Esperance Island Cruises website

Accommodation on Woody Island is in elevated safari huts or prefabricated tents. Visitors can either cook their own meals in the camp kitchen or purchase something at the island's cafe.

Molloy Island
Molloy Island is situated at the confluence of the Blackwood and Scott Rivers in the Blackwood River Estuary, just a ten minute drive from Augusta, in the far south-west. Like most of the region, the island is lushly forested with jarrah and peppermint trees, and is a haven for native wildlife. As the only access is by barge or private boat, the island is a tranquil oasis which attracts artists, writers and other creative people. It's also a great spot for a family holiday or for people who simply want to 'get away from it all'.

Private guesthouse accommodation is available on the island, and you can find out more by contacting the Augusta Visitors Centre on 08 9758 0166 or [email protected].

Dirk Hartog Island
Located in the pristine Shark Bay Marine Park, World Heritage listed Dirk Hartog Island boasts a world-class eco resort where guests can relax in luxurious beach-side accommodation while marvelling at the diverse variety of marine life which frequents the area. Dolphins, dugongs, whale sharks, whales and turtles are all regular visitors to the area, making the resort popular with snorkelers, divers and photographers. Visitors to the Dirk Hartog Lodge have a choice of two types of accommodation: an eco lodge ocean room for two people or an ocean villa, which sleeps seven. The lodge provides a variety of activities for guests, including 4WD day tours, scuba diving and nature walks.

Image from the Dirk Hartog Island website
Image from the Dirk Hartog Island website

Independent 4WD enthusiasts can also visit the island, although the number at any one time cannot exceed eight so as not to overly disturb the delicate ecological balance. Camping facilities are provided at six designated sites.

Wilderness Island
Wilderness Island, in remote Exmouth Gulf, is another unique Western Australian eco retreat. The island caters for individuals, couples, families and small groups of up to ten people, and accommodation is simple yet comfortable, with all meals included. Surrounded by nature, there is much for visitors to see and do here: exploring, kayaking, whale watching, snorkelling, and simply relaxing.

Image from the Wilderness Island Safari Holidays website
Image from the Wilderness Island Safari Holidays website

Mackerel Islands
The Mackerel Islands are situated approximately 20 minutes off the coast near Onslow, in the state's north-west. While there are ten islands in the Mackerel group, just two of these provide accommodation. Thevenard Island is the main holiday destination, and provides visitors with a choice of self-contained ocean front beach cabins or the Club Thevenard budget accommodation, simple twin or double rooms which are popular with families, diving groups and backpackers.

Image from the Mackerel Islands website
Image from the Mackerel Islands website

In contrast, a stay at Direction Island, nestled in its own coral reef, is the original Robinson Crusoe experience and visitors here get to have the whole island to themselves.

Guests to the resort will be enchanted by the unique wilderness experience which it provides. A remote and pristine marine paradise, the islands are perfect for beach-combing, shell-hunting, whale watching, photography, swimming and snorkelling.
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Why? We all need to escape the rat-race from time to time, and it's hard to retreat further from civilisation than these cool Western Australian islands.
Where: These five islands are situated just off the coast of Western Australia.
Cost: Various.
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