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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Visitor information

​For more information on visiting, please read Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park. Please note that an updated visitor guide is currently being prepared and will be available soon.

Boat visitors

The Abrolhos Islands are a remote offshore location, with prevailing heavy wave action from the southwest and persistent, strong, southerly winds (more than 32km/h for 44% of the time). The Abrolhos FHPA can experience highly changeable weather and the area has been impacted by cyclones and tsunamis. 

Human and vessel safety is of the highest priority. Masters of vessels require a thorough understanding of the need to safely manage the remoteness and potential dangers associated with a trip to the FHPA such as:

  • having good knowledge of safe anchorages depending on wind and weather
  • safe navigation through the notoriously treacherous reef systems
  • being equipped with all safety provisions
  • enough food, fresh water and fuel to last the length of the intended visit
  • an understanding of what to do in an emergency​

For public safety and the management of environmental values of the Abrolhos, it is a regulatory requirement that the Master of a boat must not travel to the Abrolhos Fish Habitat Protection Area at any time unless the Department is notified via the online notification form.

If you have any problems accessing or completing the online notification form, please contact the our Geraldton office on 9920 8400.

If you are boating at the Abrolhos, we highly recommend you take the latest nautical charts of Abrolhos waters with you.

Public moorings

DPIRD maintains 36 public moorings at key locations across the Abrolhos FHPA that are known to be popular visitor areas and provide shelter from wind and swell in varying weather conditions. To protect the fragile marine benthic habitat and ecosystem of the Abrolhos FHPA, boat-based visitors are encouraged to continue to use public moorings when available. 

If no moorings are available, anchoring within the FHPA (including ROAs) in a depth of less than 30 m should only occur on soft bottom (i.e., sand/mud) using an appropriate anchor, except in circumstances of extreme weather or distress/safety of life at sea, or for the purposes of aiding persons, vessels or aircraft in danger or distress. 

Soft bottom is the most effective substrate to reduce the risk of anchor drag. Anchors should be positioned to protect adjacent reef from scouring by anchor chains and ropes across the extent of their entire swing. There are many popular snorkelling and diving locations across the FHPA where sand/mud bottom is located nearby. Weather permitting, visitors are encouraged to anchor vessels of a length of 10 m or more in sand/mud bottom nearby and use a tender to reach points of interest, taking special care to anchor tenders in sand holes. 

For more information, visit mooring locations

There is currently no reservation system for public moorings – please do not rely on moorings being available. 

Protecting the islands from pests and diseases

One of the greatest threats to the species living on and around the islands is the introduction of marine and terrestrial plants, animals and diseases that do not naturally occur there. The most common way that these pests and diseases can arrive is via people – on the hulls of vessels and in camping, fishing and dive gear.

To help stop the spread of marine pests and diseases, boat skippers are urged to clean their vessel before they leave for the islands. Skippers carrying marine pests into the Abrolhos Islands could be in breach of the Fish Resources Management Act 1994.

Keep an eye out for new and unusual species. If you think you have found or seen a marine pest or disease please report it to our FishWatch 24-hour hotline on 1800 815 507.

National Park

Please observe the following guidelines when visiting the National Park – 

  • Camping and fires are not permitted.
  • Stay on shingle and hard surface areas around the perimeter of the islands or stay on formed trails where provided. Do not access the interior of the islands so as to avoid damaging sensitive habitats and heritage sites as well as for your own safety.
  • Do not disturb fauna and observe separation distances prescribed in the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Failure to observe separation distances may result in prosecution.
  • Sealions
    • Maintain 10m separation distance when on land
    • Maintain 60m separation distance in water where possible
  • Seabirds
    • Maintain 50m separation distance from nesting seabirds
    • Minimise the use of lights at night to minimise impact on night-flying seabirds
    • Avoid visiting seabird nesting colonies around sunrise and sunset when birds are most active
    • Do not use remotely piloted aircraft in proximity to seabird colonies
    • Do not kiteboard or fly kites near bird colonies
  • Do not enter mangrove areas – these are fragile habitats, critically important to a range of animals including nesting seabirds and sealions.
  • To avoid introducing pests and diseases, check everything you bring to the islands prior to travelling. Pay particular attention to backpacks and bags, clothing, footwear and food containers, and check for animals (especially rodents), insects, plants, soil and seeds. 
  • Metal detecting, fossicking, or removal of any natural or heritage materials from the islands is not permitted. Failure to observe may result in prosecution.
  • Do not leave any rubbish behind. All rubbish must be taken with you and disposed of appropriately on the mainland. 
  • For more information about visiting the National Park, please visit the DBCA website.​

Health and emergency services

Health and emergency services at the Abrolhos Islands during the peak season are provided by Silver Chain, with support from the local community.

For more information on accessing these services, or to give a donation to support them, please visit the Silver Chain web​site​ 

Skippers are advised to familiarise themselves with radio communications from the Abrolhos islands to the mainland as well as the rescue and support services overseeing the area.

We recommend that all boaters log on with Gerald​ton Volunteer Marine Rescue​ Association of WA on their departure and arrival to their destination, as well as their return trip. 

Two Marine VHF radio repeaters - one on Rat Island (Channel 81) and another on the Moresby Range (Channel 82) - are monitored by the Department of Fire an​d Emergency Services and the WA Vol​unteer Marine Rescue Group​ on a 24 hour, seven day a week rotation.

A Radio Communications Chart shows the nominal range of the various Marine VHF frequencies in use.

As an additional measure to shorten response times, visitors to the Islands should also log their trips with the Volunteer Marine Rescue Group.

The rescue group updates and broadcasts local waters forecasts three times per day at 07:15, 12:15 and 16:15 hours and monitors a 24/7 emergency telephone contact number - 0427 643 543.

Camps and Body Corporate land

The people who live at the Abrolhos are a community of fishers and aquaculture farmers. Their camps, jetties and associated infrastructure are private property. 

Please respect commercial fishers’ and aquaculture operators’ property and privacy and do not enter private fishing camps without the owner’s permission.

Jetties

DBCA constructed two new jetties at East Wallabi and Beacon islands in early 2022 to allow safer access for fishers, commercial tour operators and visitors. Vessels up to 20 m (65 feet) in length can access the East Wallabi Island jetty and smaller vessels, up to 7 m (22 feet) in length can use the Beacon Island jetty.​

All other jetties are private property and cannot be used without the written permission of the jetty owner.

Charter boats

To operate a charter boat at the Abrolhos, you must hold a West Coast Fishing Tour Operator’s Licence or a Restricted West Coast Fishing Tour Operator's Licence for the West Coast region.

If you would like to charter a boat to the Abrolhos, there are a number of operators departing from Geraldton, the closest town to the Abrolhos.   ​​​

Last modified: 13/01/2023 2:50 PM

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The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at www.fish.wa.gov.au.