Western Australia’s Galapagos Islands: Houtman Abrolhos
In 1628, the Dutch East India Company’s flagship, the Batavia, crashed into Houtman Abrolhos. It is more commonly called the Abrolhos Islands. The ongoing tale of mutiny and murder is best discovered by reading Peter FitzSimons book, a good place to start.
At the end of 2020 Skyscanner included Abrolhos in their Top Trends and Destinations f0r 2021
The series of 210 islands, is situated 80 kms west of Geraldton. The flat islands are surrounded by pristine coral reefs, teaming with lobster (crayfish). In fact the settlement on North Island is just for the crayfishers in the Western rock lobster season. Over 200 species of corals flourish in the shallows and deep drop-offs where fish team. The variety of underwater habitats provide some of the best scuba diving and underwater photography locations in Australia. If conditions are calm enough you can dive on the Batavia wreck-site and get a sense of the Abrolhos dark European history.
Not sure they are selfie friendly, but the Tamar Wallaby lives there too. They are a bit bigger than the famous Rottnest Quokka.
With 389 species fish being recorded around the Abrolhos, the islands are a haven for anglers. You can catch anything from much prised coral trout to massive marlin that inhabit the deep water around the islands.
When you approach the Abrolhos in a boat, first thing you notice is how flat, barren and rocky they are. They are hardly the palm tree fringed paradise we come to expect in tropical islands. But despite that, over 2 million species of seabirds nest on the islands. You soon realise these islands are packed with interest and well worth visiting.
You can get there by charter boat from Geraldton or Dongara. It can be quite a rough trip, so the queasy types, may consider a Quells or something similar But once in the lee of the islands, it as calm blue water. Dive and fishing charters have live aboard trips moving around the archipelago.
Equipped private boats can motor over to the islands. There are some public moorings. If they are taken, there are anchoring sites that avoid the protected coral and sea grass beds.
Houtman Abrolhos is a National Park so check the rules before going. Visitors can wander on the islands but cannot stay overnight. That means sleeping on the boat.
Tourist scenic flights are also an option for a completely different viewpoint. Flights leave from Geraldton and can include The pink Hutt Lagoon. Flying gives that birds eye view of the islands and green/blue reef system.
To find your experience go to Australia’s Coral Coast website.
If the Batavia story grabs you, the WA Maritime Museums have great displays in Geraldton and Fremantle