Dampier Archipelago

The Dampier Archipelago, in the Pilbara region of WA, is a coastal wonderland comprising of 42 islands and islets off the coast of Dampier and Point Samson. These islands offer excellent opportunities for boating, fishing, snorkelling, camping and other recreational activities. The Yaburara Aboriginal language group are the original inhabitants of WA’s Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago. It wasn’t until 1699 that William Dampier became the first recorded Englishman to visit the area.

Island Wildlife

Boasting many varied natural land and marine habitats, the area is an important nesting site for green, logger head, flatback and hawksbill turtles. You may also encounter dugongs, manta rays and bottlenose dolphins in the waters surrounding the Dampier Archipelago in WA, and if you visit between July and September, humpback whales can be seen as they migrate to temperate subtropical waters to mate and give birth. Check out the Turtle Nesting and Whale Watching pages for details.

Keen birdwatchers will also be interested to know that the islands are an important refuge and breeding ground for some 26 species of land, sea and shore birds, including fairy and bridled terns.

Dampier Archipelago Islands

  • Take the four hour boat trip from Dampier to the neighbouring Montebello Islands, a group of 100 limestone islands with unspoiled white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. The islands are perfect for diving, snorkelling, camping, beachcombing and fishing. The Montebello Islands also claim to be the site of Western Australia’s first shipwreck, the Tyrall, which sank in 1622.
  • Admire some of the best examples of Aboriginal rock art (petroglyphs), created by the Jaburara people on Enderby and Rosemary Islands in the Dampier Archipelago. The east side of Enderby Island is the resting place of many historical boats and planes.
  • Explore the ruins on West Lewis Island, they are believed to have been one of the early pastoral settlements in WA’s Dampier Archipelago.
  • Enjoy excellent fishing and experience the thrill of beach camping on one or more of the islands. Check the list below or visit the Department of Parks and Wildlife website for approved camping sites on the Islands.
  • Check out the remains of the old whaling and pearling stations that operated on Malus Island between 1870 and 1872.
  • Visit Gidley Island’s Black Hawk Bay and explore the remains of the pearler camp and grave sites.
  • Go diving or snorkelling on the coral reefs surrounding Dolphin Island and check out the rock pools that are thought to have been used by the pearl fishers for collecting fresh water.

Fishing in the Dampier Archipelago

With a huge variety of fish species inhabiting the area it’s a fishing paradise for both amateurs and professionals alike. Species include the much sought after coral trout, red emperor, scarlet sea perch, spangled emperor, Norwest snapper and  blue bone. A fishing guide, including details of size and bag limits, can be obtained from the Karratha Visitor Centre or the Department of Fisheries.

Camping in the Dampier Archipelago

Camping in WA’s Dampier Archipelago is permitted within 100 metres of the high-water mark on the following beaches that are zoned for recreation:

  • All beaches on Angel Island, Gidley Island and Collier Rocks.
  • All the beaches on Dolphin Island, except on the south eastern side.
  • All the beaches on Enderby Island, except those on the far east and west of the island.
  • Norbill Bay, Chookie Bay and the two most eastern beaches of Rosemary Island.
  • Marney Bay, the most northern beach of Malus Island.
  • The south-facing beach of Goodwyn Island.
  • The south-east facing beach of Eaglehawk Island.
  • The eastern beach of Hauy Island.
  • The southern tip of Delambre Island, up to a distance of 100 metres north on the east or west side.

Some of the islands are classified ‘A Class’ reserves, which means they are off limits, although a select few allow day access and overnight camping. The maximum stay on WA’s Dampier Archipelago is five nights and please remember, no fires, be clean and protect the local flora and fauna. The Department of Parks and Wildlife produces a great brochure about the Dampier Archipelago or visit their website for more information at http://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/.