Common questions & answers for visiting the Mackerel Islands
Q. What are the Mackerel Islands?
A. The Mackerel Islands are a group of 10 pristine islands and atolls, located off the mid-coast of Western Australia, two of which have accommodation – Thevenard and Direction.
Thevenard Island features 13 beachfront cabins, a general store, tour and activity hire centre, gym, guest laundry, BBQs, boat moorings, airstrip and fuel facilities.
Direction Island is where you can “rent your own island” with a sole beach shack, which is the only man-made structure on the island, allowing you to enjoy the ultimate wilderness experience in an almost untouched environment.
Q. Can I stay there?
A. Of course! We have a range of accommodation for you to find your ideal stay. We can accommodate solo travellers, couples, groups of friends, families, school groups, fishing or diving groups, retreats, corporate and team building escapades, weddings, special requests and more depending on your requirements.
Q. How do I get there?
A. The Mackerel Islands are easily accessible from Onslow, via our island transfer service or your own boat. From Perth, you can fly direct to Onslow with Virgin Australia, the flight time is 2 hours. If driving and heading north up the WA coast, Onslow is located 1,400km from Perth, 965km from Geraldton and 400km from Exmouth. If driving south from the north west region, Onslow is located 1,130km from Broome, 540km from Port Hedland and 300km from Karratha. You can also land on Thevenard Island by private aircraft or charter flight from Exmouth and Karratha. Further information is available here. Island transfer timetables are available here.
Q. Do you provide an airport shuttle service?
A. Yes, please arrange with our reservation team prior to your arrival, on (08) 9184 6444 or [email protected].
Q. Is there parking available in Onslow?
A. Yes, secure overnight parking is available on the mainland in Onslow, for cars, caravans and boat trailers, subject to availability. Prices are $10 per car or motorhome/campervan, $15 per car and towed caravan, $15 per car and boat trailer (per night). Please note this is not a powered site. Please book your parking requirements when booking your holiday to avoid missing out.
Q. Are there boat moorings?
A. Yes, on Thevenard Island there are 23 small boat moorings (up to 8.5m) and 2 deep boat moorings, available close to shore and your cabin at $10 per night per boat – these must be booked in advance on (08) 9184 6444 or email [email protected]. We also supply fuel for boats daily.
On Direction Island, there is 1 small boat mooring (up to 6m) that is complimentary for guests.
On the mainland in Onslow, secure car and boat trailer parking is available for $15 per night.
Q. How long is the trip from Onslow to the Mackerel Islands?
A. Thevenard Island is located 22km (12 nautical miles) from the coast of Onslow and takes approximately 45 minutes by boat. Direction Island is approximately 10km (5.5 nautical miles) and 20 minutes by boat. You can see both islands from Onslow.
Q. Where do I go when I get to Onslow?
A. Our welcome and check-in point is the Onslow Beach Resort (cnr Second Ave & Third St) right in the centre of town on the oceanfront. Go to reception where our friendly team will be expecting you. If you need to contact the Onslow Beach Resort, call (08) 9184 6586 or email [email protected].
Q. Are you connected to the Onslow Beach Resort?
Q. Can we camp or bring swags?
A. The 10 islands within the Mackerel Islands group are gazetted nature reserves, therefore no camping is allowed without a permit. We currently do not have camping facilities available.
Q. Can you sleep on your boat?
A. No, sorry we don’t allow this, however do have a range of accommodation types to suit all budgets and requirements.
Q. Do I need to bring linen and towels?
A. All linen, towels and complimentary soap are supplied on arrival.
Q. What is in the cabins?
A. On Thevenard Island, there is a choice of 2, 3 or 5 bedroom beachfront cabins with spectacular ocean views, sleeping 2-10 people. The cabins are air-conditioned and feature a fully self-contained kitchen with a stovetop, oven, microwave, full size fridge/freezer, toaster, kettle, Nespresso coffee machine, plus pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, glassware and utensils. All cabins have a dining and lounge area and their own private bathroom, with the larger cabins having additional bathrooms and toilets. Outside there is a shaded entertaining area with a comfortable outdoor dining setting and a Weber BBQ.
On Direction Island, the sole beach shack is a rustic A-frame cabin and features 2 bedrooms with queen and bunk beds, sleeping 2-8 people. The kitchen is fully self-contained with a stovetop, oven, full size fridge/freezer, seperate deep freezer and all cooking utensils. There is an indoor and outdoor dining setting, ceiling fans, Weber BBQ, raised balcony deck with panoramic ocean views and an outdoor private bathroom.
Q. What services are available on the Mackerel Islands?
A. On Thevenard Island, there is a general store, tour and activity hire centre, gym, guest laundry, BBQ facilities and even a communal freezer to store your fishing catch. Our general store sells fuel for boats, ice, bait, tackle, food supplies, alcohol, and general groceries. We have a state-of-the-art solar power and desalination plant providing fresh water. You can travel over from Onslow on our island transfer service, or bring your own boat over and hire a boat mooring in the main bay. We also have an airstrip welcoming private and charter planes. Bookings for our island transfers and boat moorings are essential on (08) 9184 6444 or [email protected].
On Direction Island, there is a complimentary boat mooring for private vessels under 6m in length, fresh water supply and solar power with a generator backup.
Q. When can I see the turtles?
A. You can see turtles all year swimming in the island’s surrounding waters and reefs. The nesting and hatching season, when they come up onto the beach to lay their eggs, is from November to March. After incubating for around 6-10 weeks, the baby turtles will hatch, dig to the surface and scurry to the ocean. You are able to view this amazing sight with the Turtle Watching Code of Conduct Guidelines.
Q. When can I see the humpback whales?
A. The Mackerel Islands are visited by hundreds of whales during their migration and calving season, from July to August.
Q. Can I snorkel from the beach?
A. Yes, there are a number of fringing reefs surrounding the islands, easily accessible straight from the beach, or you can hire a plaka boat to explore the snorkel trail. You can hire masks, snorkels and flippers from our tour and activity centre. Visit our dive pages for more information.
Q. We know the fishing is awesome, but what else is there to do for me and my kids?
A. Lots! One of the best things about visiting is that you can let the kids run free to explore and discover the island – they’ll squeal with delight at the sight of ghost crabs, turtle tracks, ta-ta lizards that “wave” hello, cool shells and googly eyed squid floating close to shore.
Then, jump on a SUP board, kayak, or body board with underwater viewing panels, hire a plaka boat and cruise the waters to spot incredible marine life, take a nature discovery walk, relax in your cabin’s hammock with a good book, reel in dinner from the beach, spend a few hours or a few days snorkelling the reefs close to shore, play a beach cricket or volleyball game, cook up a storm on your shaded cabin deck with a chilled drink, head out for a sunset 4WD tour, or join our skipper on one of our fishing charters.
Need more to do? Go beachcombing, stargazing, bird watching, humpback whale or dolphin watching, see turtles nesting and hatching, or become part of history by writing in our Island Diaries.
Q. Do you have a list of your pricing and activities?
A. Yes, we have all tours, activities and accommodation prices outlined on this printable list.
Q. Is there food and alcohol there?
A. Yes! If you are staying on Thevenard Island, you can buy groceries, snacks, soft drinks and liquor at competitive prices at the Island General Store, making it easy to help limit the amount of supplies you need to cart around with you on holiday, or if you forget or run out of something. We also have an Online Grocery Store, where you can pre-order your food and drink items in click and collect style to be ready for your arrival. Payment is made on pick-up of your groceries. Please note that a minimum of 14 days notice is required to fill your order. Check out the online store!
From 1 April – 31 October 2020, we will be hosting regular Island BBQ Dinner social events on Tuesdays and Fridays on Thevenard Island. These nights will be advertised on the island’s weekly “What’s On” board during your stay.
Please note the Mackerel Islands operates a NO BYO ALCOHOL policy on Thevenard Island due to liquor licensing conditions, however we are happy to order in special items with notice. If you’re playing castaway on Direction Island, BYO is acceptable.
If you are staying on Direction Island, you will need to bring all of your own food and drinks in a sufficient supply for your stay. Onslow town has a supermarket, newsagent and a small tackle store. Pre-ordering can be done through the Onslow Supermarket (IGA) and picked up upon your arrival into Onslow. The staff at the Onslow Beach Resort are able to assist in the collection of your supplies if you are arriving by plane into Onslow. If you require any assistance with this, please organise this with our reservations team prior to your arrival into Onslow.
Filtered desalinated water is available and is safe to drink, but if you wish to provide your own drinking water, we recommend that you allow 2-3 litres per person per day.
Q. Can I order food other than what’s listed on the online grocery store?
A. You can with sufficient notice. We will do our best to accommodate special requests, including special occasions, so please provide as much notice as possible.
Q. What time / how often do the island transfers or tour boat charters leave?
A. For overnight guests:
Ferry services depart from Onslow to the Mackerel Islands several times per week and take approximately 45 minutes (to Thevenard Island) or 20 minutes (to Direction Island). Check departure days and times here. Bookings for our island transfer services are essential.*
A. For fishing trips:
Our 3 Night Fishing Treat package departs Onslow on Tuesdays and Fridays. Our 7 Night Fishing Adventure package departs Onslow on Tuesdays. More information is here.
A. For day fishing charters:
We operate an 11m LeisureCat accommodating up to 10 people with experienced and knowledgeable skippers. Charters are seasonal so please contact us for the most up to date information or visit our fish pages.
To book your island transfer or fishing trip, contact us on (08) 9184 6444 or [email protected].
*Services may be changed or substituted at short notice, due to weather conditions, passenger numbers and operational requirements. See our island transfers page for further information.
Q. What is the best time of the year to come?
A. Our peak season runs from March to October, however the quieter months provide some amazing nature experiences, especially turtle hatchings. It is warmer during this time and there is a risk of cyclone activity between November to April; however we have tight procedures and policies in place should this occur during your stay. Thevenard Island is open year-round; Direction Island closes over the low season 1 November – 19 March.
Q. What are the weather temperatures like?
A. The average annual temperature is around 30°C. Mean temperatures range from:
Summer – December, January February: 30°C – 36°C
Autumn – March, April, May: 26°C – 36°C
Winter – June, July August: 23°C – 28°C
Spring – September, October, November: 25°C – 35°C
Q. Is there phone reception?
A. Yes, the Telstra 3G network is available on the islands.
Q. Is there internet service?
A. Yes, if you are on the Telstra network, you can access Wi-Fi internet through your own device.
Q. Where do you get ice?
A. We have communal freezer storage for the fishing fanatics out there, where we have large stores of fresh ice. Thevenard Island has a state-of-the-art desalination plant pumping huge quantities of fresh water around the island, so ice and fresh water just isn’t a problem!
Q. What medical facilities do you have in case of emergency?
A. All permanent staff are trained in First Aid for treatment of minor injuries. Swift transport to Onslow Hospital is provided if required, which is a two-minute drive from the Onslow jetty. For emergency situations Mackerel Islands is registered with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. There is an airstrip on Thevenard Island for the landing of aircraft in emergency situations. It is advisable to let staff know of any potential medical requirements as soon as possible.
Do you have another question? Please contact us.