Of all the clump of islands in Western Australia, Dampier Archipelago is one of the closest to the mainland. But its closeness to land is not the main reason why tourist flock this part of Australia. But rather, has something to do with its geographical features. Allow us to accompany you and explore the beauty of Dampier Archipelago
An Industrial Basepoint
Local Western Australians considers Dampier Island as the gateway to the archipelago. Situated 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) off the coast of Pilbara, Dampier island was once a desolated area before it became an industrial zone. In 1963, a causeway was built from the mainland where roads and railways were connected creating an artificial peninsula which was later renamed to Burrup – a name derived from the highest peak on the island. Here you can expect a busy industrial port and processing plants sprouting especially in the Burrup Strategic Industrial Area which covers 38% of the peninsula.
Not unless you are a businessman or an industrial capitalist searching for a land to lease, then allow us to divert your attention to the outer islands of the archipelago where the industry is not based on ports and processing plants, but on Ecotourism that generally promotes the protection and conservation of habitats.
Dampier’s 42 Island Paradise
We all have our own definition of what paradise is, and pretty sure, it all boils down to what we love doing. With this, may we present to you your vast playground in Dampier Archipelago where each and everyone of us will enjoy its own niche.
Beach Bummer’s Paradise
If we try to make a ratio-proportion to the 42 islands of Dampier Archipelago to the number of beach, then the equation would easily equate to 1:1. Whaler’s Bay in Malus Island is one popular beach destination in Dampier Archipelago. Formerly known as an American whaling site, Whaler’s bay is favored by most beach bummers. Aside from enjoying the fine white sand and crystal clear waters, you will also appreciate the confinement of its bay from strong waves and current where your boat can safely anchor.
If you are looking for an island where you can visit and swim in several beachfront, then head out to West Intercourse Island. Located in the southern end of the archipelago, West Intercourse Island has at least 5 beachfront that are scattered around the island. You can spend a day or two exploring this secluded beach where you can have the option to use a boat in transferring from one beach to another or walk on foot to nearby areas.
A Paradise for Snorkelers and Scuba Divers
Some of us finds the comfort of nearby dive sites very appealing where shore entry will be your mode of entrance. However, most of us find it more appealing if we visit and explore far-flung areas that usually has a pristine condition.
This is often the case of Dampier Archipelago where most divers often choose distant sites that offers more adventure. Such is the case when you go diving in Legendre Island. Located at the northern end of the archipelago facing the Pacific Ocean, Legendre island is frontier of Scuba diving in Dampier Archipelago where most dive profiles can be experienced in just one single dive. Deep, reef, multi-level and wall diving can be simultaneous done in a single dive where your usual profile includes an entry to a shallow reef that traverses to the crest where a vertical wall awaits your presence and descend to a maximum depth of 35 meters (115 feet). Aside from being amazed by the immense diversity of marine life in Legendre island, this is being complemented with its crystal clear waters where visibility can easily reach over 30 meters (100 feet).
Located west from the white sandy beach of Malus island, Rosemary Island is another popular site for divers and snorkelers in Dampier Archipelago. Named by Private Dampier himself, an English Buccaneer who first discovered the island in 1699, Rosemary island offers a confined water setting that is free from waves and strong current. The shallow reef surrounding Rosemary island has become a perfect spot for snorkeling where you can see a diversity of marine fish like fusiliers and damselfish.
Now here’s the thing with Dampier Archipelago, there’s lots of dive sites that are yet to be explored especially the reefs located in between islands. One of the recent discovery made in the mid-reefs is the occasional passing by of whalesharks where your swimming speed will be put to the test as you chase and follow the biggest fish in the world.
Compared to other island destinations in western Australia, Dampier Archipelago is one of the few sites where camping is allowed. However, it is not a free for all activity as restrictions and limitations are still enforced. First thing that you should take note is that camping is only allowed within the 100-meter (300 feet) zone with reference to the highest water mark. Further, camping is only allowed in the islands that are declared as recreational zones such as Angel, Gidley, Collier, Dolphin, Enderby, Rosemary, Malus, Goodwyn, Eaglehawk, Hauy and Delambre island.
Once you assembled your tents and fell in love with the natural beauty of the islands of Dampier Archipelago, you also have to take note that the maximum number of days that you are allowed to do camping is 5 days. Open fire, such as bonfires, is strictly prohibited in Dampier Archipelago.
A Paradise for Historical Heritage
Dampier Archipelago houses one of the World’s largest collection of Petroglyphs. Specifically found in Burrup peninsula, this rock-sketchings were made by Aborigines dating back 10,000 years ago.
Taking a stroll along the coast of Burrup Peninsula, you will see a pile of boulders where you may initially think that they are being stacked by bulldozers and other heavy equipment flourishing in this industrial area. But no, they are naturally occurring that way. At a distance, you will see that the rocks are sketched out with images mostly depicting animals that you can find in Burrup Peninsula. However, there is one depicted image that is common to these rock carvings, where a closer look, will tell you that it is a Tasmanian Tiger – an extinct thylacine that looks a dog with distinct stripes on the back similar to those of the zebras.
Walking closely to observe these petroglyphs will bring you back in time to the life our early Australian brothers and taking a day’s walk would not be enough as the site is filled with over a million rock sketchings. Now, if you want to contribute to these petroglyphs by engraving your name or drawing your favorite subject in one of the rocks, please be informed that these rock sketchings are protected by law under the Aboriginal Heritage Act of 1972 which penalizes any person who tries to damage, alter or destroy this world renowned cultural heritage site.
Paradise in Peril
While the industrial revolution has made a positive impact in our economies, it also has some negative impact especially when it comes to dealing with the surrounding environment. Let us take the case of Burrup Peninsula where there is an existing industrial zone and a nearby cultural heritage site where the petroglyphs are found.
The lifespan of an industrial zone will depend on 2 factors. First, it can be short-lived depending on the lease contract given by the government. A company may take control another company depending on the profit it has made and may make necessary reconstruction that will fit the demands. Second, it can be long-lived especially if the industry you are involved and developing has something to do with daily living, like energy, oil and the like. However, this is not the case for petroglyphs in Burrup Peninsula. They are there to stand time. Once damaged, destroyed or altered, you can never bring back the true historical value of the rock sketchings no matter what construction, reconstruction and restoration you will do.
Now here is the situation and realization that you may ponder after reading this article: How long does it take to fill-up and occupy all the 38% allocated area in Burrup Peninsula with industries that are usually constructing mega facilities? Or maybe, a better question can be ask: Is there a possibility that a part of the remaining 62% area in Burrup Peninsula designated for conservation, heritage and recreational use be considered as an Expansion Site for the Industrial Zone? Well, for now, you can take a breather and relax as it is been taken cared of. Thanks to Australian policies and laws where you can see some balance between industrial development and environmental conservation.
Parks and Wildlife Service – Government of Western Australia: www.parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au
Australia’s Northwest: www.australiasnorthwest.com
City of Karratha: www.karratha.wa.gov.au
Burrup Peninsula Land Use Plan and Management Strategy: www.landcorp.com.au
Heritage Council – Government of Western Australia: www.inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au
Video courtesy from Destination WA