Wilderness Island - Exmouth Gulf - Take 2

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Wilderness Island – Exmouth Gulf

I have been to some pretty special places around our beautiful country and the rest of the world but I  always find myself looking for that next idealic place to visit. Places like Kakadu, One Tree beach, Fiji, Bora Bora and the Maldives have always been high on my “to do” list......but that aint living!!

I have just found Wilderness Island, a small island on the eastern side of the Exmouth Gulf. A simple, yet effective place to get away and get back to nature. Wilderness Island is 40km due east across the Exmouth Gulf, for all the info on the island you can  check out their website: http://www.wildernessisland.com.au/

It’s basically untouched, the beaches are littered with shells, hermit crabs and drift wood and the bit your all waiting for ...... FISH. The Exmouth Gulf and the flats around the islands are just a boiling pot for a broad range of species.


A good mate of mine, Jim Alston owns and runs the island with the help of a small team that resembles  a large, close knit family including Kim and there trusty fishing guide fondly known as “Harry Butler”. Jim has been asking me to come over and check out the island for the last couple of years and I’ve never quite made it. The good wife kindly offered me a leave pass for a few days last week so a quick call to Jim to confirm availability and I was on my way.


I shot across in my boat and arrived at the island around lunch time on Tuesday. The island was a hive of activity with Jim and a small team preparing to start the building of 7 new cabins on the island. As you can imagine this is no easy feat! There isn’t a Bunnings down the road and when the water is glassy calm trying to keep everyone focussed on the job isn’t easy. I quickly realised that my 4 day leave pass was going to be spent building the new cabins.

The main camp is large and very comfortable. It has a very rustic/beach shack/Robinson Crusoe feel with a few mod cons thrown in. The safari tents are the standard accommodation at the moment and the new cabins will be available at the start of next season (early next year). The clincher for me was the beachfront shower. Situated at the bottom of the cliff the “bathroom” is right on the beach and a hot shower over looking the bay at the end of the day makes you really wonder why you didnt book a few more days.


The Veiw from the shower!!

 As you all know a good trip away revolves around beer, fishing and food (that order can change accordingly) This trip was no different, the beers were always cold and flowing. The food was fresh and the fishing was always going to be good, now just to get a line on the water. That night we made sure we gave Jim a big feed and plenty of beers and then told him we were all going fishing the next day (not building the cabins!!). Jim’s rubber arm was twisted and when we woke on Wednesday morning the water was glassy.

Jim and I headed straight down to the “boat harbour” a small tidal creek at the back of the island that provides extremely safe anchorage to get my boat out before the tide dropped to low. We had a big cook up and a couple of coffee’s and then headed out for a fish. We didn’t have to go far (100m from the mooring) and we hooked a couple of small Malabar cod. A quick cruise south and the Queenies were following the boat, we had one Queenie that was happy to just sit under the boat in 2 meters of water and watch us throwing all manor of poppers and lures with little or no interest. We were drifting along the cliffs and the shallow reefs and the visibility was pretty good, we spotted a dugong and a large number of turtles. Apologies for the lack of photos of the fish!! The multi tasking (skippering/fishing etc) on the boat plus the fact that you basically get the fish to the boat and get it off and back in the water as quick as you can meant that the camera remained in the bottom of the bag for most of the day.

The list of species that we had in the boat that morning included Malabar cod, mangrove jacks, blue bone, brim, school mackerel and trevally. We had a number of hook ups on Queenies and spotted a few very shy GT’s. It was low tide by now and Jim jumped off  the bow of the boat at the cliff face and climbed up through a big sea cave.  A quick walk up the beach and we were amazed at the amount of wildlife. The birds, sea eagles, mud crabs, large schools of mullet and plenty of small black and white tipped reef sharks providing plenty of action busting up the schools of bait fish. We walked out on the flats to cast a few poppers and every cast would bring in a different species. Benno scored a nice queenie in water only knee deep, after a quick release Jim suggested we try a special lagoon.


The lagoon is a fantastic spot where we could sight cast or drop a lure right at your feet and watch the big jacks and cod smash the lure then run straight under ledges again. There was a big school of mullet that held up right at our feet and moved around the lagoon to avoid the small black tip reef shark and the fast moving queenie that came in for a look.


We only kept enough fish for us to take home for dinner that night, a Malabar cod, a jack, a nice blue bone and the mackerel (for smoking). Wilderness Island is a very special place and Jim and Harry are keen to keep it that way. They strongly enforce catch and release and don’t allow any fillets to go back to the mainland. If your looking for a fishing trip to get out there and fill your freezer, this isn’t for you!

Jim is closed now for the cyclone season but franticly working on a number of upgrades to the island including the 7 new cabins but also an airstrip. The season for next year is looking very promising and Jim is putting together some new packages including “bring your own boat” “The weekender” and some couples packages for those looking for a simple getaway. If your not sure don’t hesitate to give Jim a call or send him an email to discuss a package to suit you. I am sure you will see Wilderness Island on the FW website soon and some members discounts/packages to follow.


I can strongly recommend it!!




RUSS - Another punter in the Pilbara!

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snappermiles's picture

Posts: 2098

Date Joined: 05/11/10

looks lovely dude!!

Tue, 2011-11-08 12:10

im a bit shocked to see you actually doing some work though!! what are those fish schooling by the rocks??



Posts: 32

Date Joined: 18/08/05

 Now thats livin!!!

Tue, 2011-11-08 12:14

 Now thats livin!!!

Teflon Coated's picture

Posts: 33

Date Joined: 28/03/11

hmmm yes mate. this was my

Tue, 2011-11-08 12:14

hmmm yes mate. this was my last getaway before starting work again. Go back next week.

As for the post i just lost all the txt when i copied the story over so ive asked Adam to delete and will repost with the story!

are you at work? im guessing thats when yoiu spend most time on here!!!



RUSS - Another punter in the Pilbara!

snappermiles's picture

Posts: 2098

Date Joined: 05/11/10

haha mate na just about to fly home

Tue, 2011-11-08 12:18

been in exxy for the last few days for the emergency response comp! got out fishing sunday but weather was pretty crap strong current and strong winds! ended up with a feed though with six small spanairds around 5 kg some red throat and a few spanglies! all in all not a bad day considering the weather!



hunterdive's picture

Posts: 363

Date Joined: 24/02/09

 I think I'll definately

Tue, 2011-11-08 16:37

 I think I'll definately spend a few days in the Gulf next time in Exxy, chasing queenies and the like.  Looks like a great spot to me, I'd love to stay at the Island.

It would be a very interesting job building that accomodation.  You'd need to get all your quantities and orders right...   


Nice post. thanks for sharing