Tuesday 29 April 2014

Abrolhos: Wallibi Group

Another mooring area next to a tiny island - Easter Group

I was surprised to see how many islands are occupied. A dozen or more and must be hundreds of people living here without government infrastructure. In fact I think it was a free for all in the early days, now the state government strictly controls settlements, no new shacks (some are converted shipping containers), need fishing license to own one etc. We hung around Morley island for a couple days and noticed the perfect white sand beaches, WA has a thousand miles of white sandy beaches, really white powdery stuff, so I have to say, I seen it before…  
I know someone catches fish here, just not me..

Most the cruising boats here had an aluminium dinghy (with outboard), obviously prepared for the main activity on the Abrolhos, which would be fishing. We didn’t come for an Abrolhos specific holiday, just passing through, so weren’t adequately prepared. Though I did try to catch a fish with my puny 6 lb line and rod, for a whole day & failed miserably.
Rat Island - largest settlement in the Abrolhos

We decided its time to check out another island, this time it was off to the next island group, 10 miles to the north, called the Wallibi group and our destination is Turtle Bay. Also I wanted to sail past the biggest settled island here, Rat island. The one next to it is called “Little Roma” also full of shacks - guess which nationality named that.. After 2 miles sailing within the island group and we were in open sea again, but not away from people, several power boats headed for us for a closer look at the funny rig. Susie was quite perturbed by one boat heading straight for us, only for it to turn at the last moment. I had lifted my hand to…  wave… as the aft deck revealed a dozen people all with cameras pointed at us. Sure hope one or two of the multitudes who have photographed Ashiki so far would upload one to the net so my googling can find it…  This patch of continental shelf is swarming with Geraldton boat charters, busy business.

Charter boat made us a tourist attraction.
The cross we bare..

We entered the Wallibi group, wing on wong at 6.2 knots with zero rolling, because the water was completely flat. Susie took the opportunity to make coffee in the stable horizontal galley. We found Turtle Bay at the northern end, 3 of the 7 moorings were still unoccupied, the rest taken by quite large power boats. This island is the largest on the Abrohos and actually has hills and is quite pleasant to wander on.

Turtle Bay mooring - missed the Turtles..

East Wallibi Island has an air strip, which we tramped all over, when we got to the other end we saw the sign which said do not tramp all over..   Tourists are dropped off daily to hike across the island and sit at a purpose built shelter on the beach, and have a snorkle. We met the pilot of one of the flights, he had hiked to the top of a hill for phone reception, same reason we were there.  Susie asked him what iPhone app he prefers for wind and weather forecasting. As expected he knew a very good one “Willy Weather” -  a free app - for the Aussies. 

Wallibi Island trail, lots of lizards and heard there
are some wallabies, but very timid as we didn't see them
maybe because of the aerial predators, see other pics.

I never want to learn who owns the flash boats which may cross our path because often its some household name, but the pilot was eager to name drop. The guy on the next mooring to us bought a fishing license just so he could own a shack on Pidgeon island, then turned the interior into a palace, added a heliport etc. Two clues to who he is, owns a construction company and (for our English readers).. refurb of Wembley Stadium London…

Wallibi Airport - runway, tarmac, terminal, hanger & Novotel.. somewhere..
Airstrip jetty
Pidgeon Island in the distance

A few land bird species live on the Wallibi, here's
an Osprey. 2m wingspan.
Same Osprey
White Bellied Sea-Eagle on the loo.
About 5 Ospreys and Eagles call this little Island
home (1.5 miles across) and generally terrorise
the local ground critters..

Same Sea Eagle

Turtle Bay from "phone reception" hill..

Shelter for the plane tourists

View from shelter

Eastern side of Wallibi Is

Wallibi sunset

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