Getting to the Mackerel Islands, Western Australia

The Mackerel Islands are a collection of 10 pristine islands and atolls scattered off the mid-coast of Western Australia, 22km from the mainland of Onslow, or approximately 1,400km north of Perth, in the spectacular Pilbara region. Two of the islands welcome guests – Thevenard Island and Direction Island – with accommodation, facilities, activities and tours.

Watch sea turtles haul themselves up the beach to lay eggs, glimpse dolphins and whales playing in the blue-green waters, admire the kaleidoscope of colourful fish, crabs and stingrays among the coral reefs while you snorkel, or reel in the catch of your life from the Pilbara’s fishiest waters. Then as the sun goes down and the night sky lights up with a dusting of silver, you can simply stargaze in awe and breathe in the quietness.

This is the amazing, off the beaten track experience you have been looking for.

Map of where the Mackerel Islands are


The Mackerel Islands and Onslow are easy to access via Perth, Exmouth, Karratha or Broome.

Options for getting here include travelling by road, air or boat.

From Onslow, the Mackerel Islands are a short boat transfer across.

By Road – Drive

Road travel from Perth to Onslow is a comfortable drive of about 1.5 days on fully sealed roads.

Onslow sits almost right in the middle of Exmouth and Karratha, being a 4 hour drive north from Exmouth or 3 hour drive south from Karratha.

Onslow Road runs about 80km off the North West Coastal Highway, which connects the main towns of Geraldton, Carnarvon, Exmouth, Karratha and Port Hedland, or off the Great Northern Highway which connects from Broome.

If you’re adventuring through the stunning Karijini National Park, the Nanutarra Munjina Road will connect you with the N W Coastal Highway then Onslow Road, and takes approximately 5 hours drive time.

Approximate Distances & Driving Times
Perth to Onslow: 1,400km – 14 hours & 30 minutes
Geraldton to Onslow: 965km – 9 hours & 45 minutes
Carnarvon to Onslow: 495km – 5 hours
Exmouth to Onslow: 400km – 4 hours
Karratha to Onslow: 300km – 3 hours & 15 minutes
Karijini National Park to Onslow: 450km – 5 hours & 30 minutes
Port Hedland to Onslow: 540km – 5 hours & 30 minutes
Broome to Onslow: 1,130km – 11 hours & 20 minutes

By Air – Fly Direct

Perth to Onslow
Virgin Australia flies daily from Perth to Onslow, making it a short 2 hour hop from Perth and the easiest way to get here. You can check flight times and schedules here.

Private Aircraft
Thevenard Island has a 1,000m brick paved airstrip. Should you require further information on airstrip access, please contact our Island Manager on (08) 9184 6444 or [email protected].

By Air – Fly/Drive

Perth to Exmouth (Learmonth)
Qantas flies daily between Perth and Exmouth (Learmonth), travel time is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes. Pick up a hire car in Exmouth and travel the 400km distance to Onslow, driving through the Ningaloo region or Cape Range National Park, before arriving at the next stage of your adventure at the islands!

Perth to Karratha
Qantas and Virgin Australia fly daily from Perth to Karratha, travel time is just over 2 hours. Pick up a hire car in Karratha to explore the 300km distance to Onslow, where you can road trip along the way to the Burrup Peninsula, Millstream-Chichester National Park, or out to Karijini.

Scenic Flights
Charter planes are also available to transfer guests from Exmouth or Karratha directly to Thevenard Island on a light plane scenic tour. Flight times are approximately 35 minutes. Please contact us for more details, prices and availability.

By Boat – Ferry Transfers

Transfers to Thevenard Island and Direction Island depart 4 times per week (subject to weather conditions and demand) from our private departure jetty at Beadon Creek, Onslow. The boat trip takes 20 minutes to Direction Island; 45 minutes to Thevenard Island.

Departure time for guest transfers with luggage is typically 12:00pm from Onslow to the islands, and 10:00am from the islands back to Onslow. Please see our ferry schedule information and contact our reservation staff to book and confirm your transfer arrangements.

Ferry transfer prices are:

  • $90 return for adults
  • $60 return for children
  • Free for infants

You are welcome to bring your own vessel and hire a boat mooring at the islands – these must be booked in advance. We also supply boat fuel. Please see our Boating Info page.

Boat mooring prices are:

  • $10 per boat per night

Parking prices on the mainland in Onslow are:

  • $10 per car or caravan per night
  • $15 per car + boat trailer per night

Car Hire Services

Car hire is available from Onslow, Karratha, Learmonth and Exmouth. Avis Onslow has a convenient pick up and drop off location at the Onslow Airport and the Onslow Beach Resort.