Fly Fishing Wilderness Island
There are well known but often crowded or excessively fished fly fishing destinations and there are the ones which are more difficult to find but are really outstanding.
Wilderness Island for sure belongs to this small but most wanted group of special destinations everyone should visit the other day. I accidently came across a link while looking for fly fishing possibilities around Exmouth and I immediately knew that I had found something special. I had to go there.
The little island is only 1.6 km long and 800 m wide and is located east of Exmouth on the other side of the gulf. You can reach it only by boat (1h) or by plane. My wife and I chose the second option. After a 15 min flight on which we spotted humpback whales on their migration out of the gulf our pilot Connor from Northwest Airwork landed the small charter plane safely on the remote spot. Our host Jim Alston was awaiting us at the landing strip and after a short drive on a dirt track with the only car on the Island we arrived at the camp. What a magic place!
The history of the camp is as fascinating as the location. Jim Alston, a former farmer in 5th generation had a terrible paragliding accident in which he broke almost every single bone in his body. A miracle happened and somehow he fully recovered. This made him think and he decided to change his life completely. After seven years of negotiations with the local government and the aboriginal custodian of the area he managed to sign a long time lease for the Island with the possibility to develop a wilderness camp at the beautiful spot. With the help of Kim Nguyen who originally wanted to only spend a working holiday in Australia but stayed there he created a little paradise for people in search of a life like Robinson Crusoe. Being on a wild Island without any light pollution sharing the space and its surrounding waters with kangaroos, goannas, wild turkeys, echidnas, dugongs, humpback whales, sharks and many other saltwater game fish is a dream for all those trying to escape the daily rush. You can bring your own boat and tackle to fish there or fish with a guide around the island, offshore or in the many mangrove channels. You will have everything you will need there with a little touch of bush luxury including a very special bathroom right next to the beach.
The camp has a capacity of up to 15 guests who can stay in 5 huts overlooking the gulf and the east part of the Island. From the veranda of the main building you can enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in this part of the world. You immediately feel at home there, as Jim and Kim are great hosts who know how to make their guests happy be it by cooking wonderful seafood meals or sharing their stories with the clients. Wilderness Island Camp can also be booked by closed groups for a reasonably price in case you would prefer to have the whole Island exclusively for your group.
The fishing on the flats and in the mangroves around the Island and the nearby Tent Island belongs to the best Australia has to offer. Peter Morse, the Australian fly fishing icon even labelled it the best flat fishing in Australia. Of course you have to be there at the right time to break a record. I saw huge amounts of really large barramundi gathering at some spots but unfortunately a sharp drop in water temperature the day prior to our arrival put them down. Especially barramundi are very sensitive to such temperature changes. Other fish did not bother at all. So it was a great experience fishing there and the possibilities for fly fishers and spin fishermen are limitless. Just let Jim know and he or his guide will bring you to the right spot. You can fish all day if you want or you can make breaks to enjoy the beauty of the Island. It is up to you, but be advised that it is not allowed to take even a single fish back home from the Island. So it is catch and release only. It is a must and guarantees the long time sustainability of the waters around the Island.
Besides the fishing the charming little Island has much more to offer. Go for a walk and explore the wild life. There are different animals to be met there. Even dingoes sometimes drop in to grab a kangaroo. They swim from one island to the next or pass the flats at low tide. Large goannas can even grab wild turkeys. So be prepared to have your camera ready for a shot. Thousands of humpback whales pass by the Island every year. You can even approach them by kayak. But be careful! They are huge! The ancient looking dugongs are also quite common and you will see them regularly feeding on sea grass in the bays and lagoons. There are not too many places like Wilderness Island where they are not disturbed by boats and sight seeing ships. There is no commercial fishing around the Island and besides the guests of the camp you will hardly see anyone at all.
Is it safe?
Yes it is. You can go for a swim or snorkel the shallows. You will meet all kind of fish. Of course there are sharks too, it is their natural environment. Meet them with respect! They are not interested in you as there is so much food around.
Take it easy and enjoy your stay, the island is really awesome!