This was the final special component of our trip before heading home and extraordinarily special it turned out to be. The Abrolhos are best known for the crayfish industry and the Batavia wreck and its story. The number of fishermen on the islands have dwindled with the introduction of quotas so they come out to the islands for a short season rather than living on the islands full time with their families. This has meant the closure of all the schools on the islands and community activities such as the inter island football league, are no more. Our first surprising view of some of the islands was of multi colored shanties perched on the coral, just a metre above the sea level. It was obvious that some of these part time homes were well loved but we couldn’t understand how the residents were permitted to pipe raw sewerage directly into the ocean!(they now have to have the toilets inside the house whereas previously they sat precariously over the ocean using long drops). We heard lots of stories about life on these islands and catching Crays from our captain (and past crayfisherman)Jay Cox.
Each day started with brekky at 7 am and then followed a full day of activities that included snorkeling/diving in a variety of quality sites, fishing, trawling, island walks, drinks on the beach, glassbottom boat trips, fish feeding in a couple of different places and some relaxing……plenty of eating too as the food was delicious and plentiful. The crew were great fun and knowledgeable and they looked after us well.
The known history of the islands includes the Dutch ship Batavia, on its way to Java, hitting a reef in the middle of the night in 1629. The story that unfolded was full of murder, rape, theft and general horror as the worst of human traits were let loose by those in control. We visited Beacon Island where most of these events unfolded. It is now a protected zone as arch
eologists are still finding bodies in mass graves there. The coral prison built to house Geronimus Cornelius, the instigator, still stands. He was removed from this prison and tried on nearby Long Island where he was found guilty, had his hands severed before being hanged. The soldiers on West Wallabi Island built coral walls to protect themselves from Cornelius’ men when they tried to attack. These still stand. A fascinating story that is apparently taught in Dutch schools presently!
It was a marvelous 5 day adventure although it has taken a few days to get our land legs again. Now we are on our way home……free camping when we can and playing the Nullabor Links…..Marcus that is.