Houtman Abrolhos
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Houtman Abrolhos

Western Australia, Australia
LAST UPDATED 14/04/2008
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Ernie Dingo: "Cave Beach", located on one of the Wallabi Islands, 4 December 2006

The Houtman Abrolhos is often referred to the Abrolhos Islands. It is made up of a chain of 122 islands, and associated coral reefs in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia.

Lying about 80km wewst of Geraldton in Western Australia, Houtman Abrolhos is the southernmost true coral reef in the Indian Ocean and one of the highest latitude reef systems in the world.

It is the centre of Western Australia's largest single species fishery and Western Rock Lobster fishery. Is is also known as the site of numerous shipwrecks, the most famous being DutchBatavia, wrecked in 1629, and Zeewijk, wrecked in 1727


Jan Jansz: Batavia Mutineers on the Rampage; 1647

Today these islands are a staple source of the famous Western Australian Crayfish that are served at quality seafood restaurants around the globe.

There are several outstanding breaks here, not really overprotected by the fishermen that ply these islands; the fact is that you need a boat to get here and hence the islands do not see a lot of visitors - surf paradise found?

Maybe, but these islands have a much darker past. In 1629, the Dutch ship Batavia was wrecked here. A longboat was sent north to Jakarta, Indonesia for assistance but in the months between, over 100 innocent men women and children were slaughtered by a small band of mutineers on Wallabi Island.

The mutineers were eventually brought to justice on the island and had their hands cut off before being hung on a makeshift gallows. There were two survivors that were unable to be suitably convicted of any crime, just to be sure they were landed on mainland Australia as punishment for their 'possible' crimes. In doing so, these men had the dubious honour of becoming the first convicts excomunicated to Australia. The men were never seen or heard from again.

Over 100 years later when a Dutch explorer landed on the mainland, he was shocked to have a young Aboriginal boy with blond hair run up to him, bend over and tie his shoelace.

This haunted coast has many stories to tell.

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