Common questions & answers for visiting the Mackerel Islands
Thevenard Island is open April - December 2023 and March - October 2024.
Direction Island is currently closed for the 2023/2024 season.
About the Mackerel Islands
The Mackerel Islands are a group of 10 pristine islands and atolls, located 10-22km off the mid-coast of Western Australia, two of which have accommodation – Thevenard and Direction. The islands are accessed from Onslow.
Thevenard Island features 12 beachfront cabins, a general store, tour and activity hire centre, 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.
Yes, we are sister properties! Mackerel Islands guests receive a 10% discount off Onslow Beach Resort accommodation when staying pre or post your island stay. To get the discount, book direct with us on (08) 9184 6444 or [email protected].
Chevron Thevenard Island Decommissioning - Removing onshore footprints
Chevron Australia Pty Ltd (Chevron) has worked on Thevenard Island since the late 1960’s when the first exploration wells were drilled. Following the grant of environmental approvals, an oil and gas processing facility was constructed and operated on the Island from the late 1980’s until the Thevenard fields and production facility reached the end of field life in 2014. The infrastructure and facilities on island were then placed into a care and maintenance mode while planning for decommissioning occurred. Active decommissioning is now underway on site and Chevron aims to restore their lease area, which is located next to the Mackerel Islands Pty Ltd lease, to a condition similar to and compatible with the adjacent Nature Reserve.
Following the successful plugging of the production wells in 2019, the dismantling of production facilities began. During 2020 and 2021 Chevron made great progress in removing their old camp, offices, pipelines, production facilities, storage tanks, and other infrastructure. In 2022, the main scope was site rehabilitation. The first step of rehabilitation saw the landform in the lease area recreated so that the topography is similar and connected to the neighbouring TVI nature reserve. Chevron then planted thousands of native seedlings which will continue across multiple years, replicating the plant communities found in the Nature Reserve so that the rehabilitated area can become a functioning ecosystem. In 2023 the works planned include final planting and rehabilitation, removal of the jetty, and removal of the offshore rigs. Chevron is committed to progressing the decommissioning and rehabilitation activities to deliver positive outcomes for other users of Thevenard Island both now and into the future.
The April/May 2023 rehabilitation work was successful with a staggering 150,000 native plants being planted on the old oil facility site. Recent rains will ensure they have an excellent success rate, and the positive outcome can be seen during your stay with us.
The upcoming program and things you will notice are detailed below.
Commencing 14th July 2023, Chevron will begin removal of the jetty. The first 3 weeks will simply involve a small boat and dive crew with limited impact to our guests.
From early August until mid-September 2023, the main jetty removal will commence. During this time, the jetty and a small section of adjacent beach area will be out of bounds for safety reasons. You will notice 2 barges and support vessels alongside the jetty as they methodically remove the structure. Work will occur during daylight only however we do expect noise at times during this period. Most guests are out and about during the day and evenings will be quiet.
The offshore rig removal project will not occur during our tourist season in 2023.
The Club Thevenard area including the bar, restaurant and swimming pool will be unavailable. An alternative beach location has been set up for our Dinner Under the Stars evenings.
All other aspects of your holiday with us are unchanged and we are very much looking forward to welcoming you soon.
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions - North West Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program
The DBCA's North West Shelf Flatbacks conservation program has been operating since 2009. In November/December 2016 and January 2017 a team of scientists and volunteers undertook a pilot monitoring program on Thevenard Island to establish if the turtle rookery was a suitable long-term monitoring site for the program. This pilot was successful, with scientists estimating that at least 200 flatback turtles used the island during the season.
The scientific and management objectives of this program are to assess the size of the flatback turtle population nesting on Thevenard Island by counting tracks and tagging females and to deploy satellite tags to track female turtles’ movements during and after the nesting season. Data loggers are also attached to some turtles, which yield further information on diving depths and distances travelled. Collected data will contribute to a broader understanding of the ecology and demography of the Pilbara flatback turtle stock.
Learn more about the program here.
Watch a short video about the island's turtles here.
Check out the very interesting site that shows our satellite tracked turtles here.
We have all accommodation, tours and activities prices outlined on this printable list.
The Mackerel Islands are easily accessible from Onslow, via our island transfer service or your own boat. The crossing takes approximately 45 minutes to Thevenard Island or 20 minutes to Direction Island. You can also land on Thevenard Island by private aircraft or charter flights from Exmouth and Karratha.
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. From Karijini, the drive is around 450km.
Yes, Virgin Australia flies direct from Perth to Onslow, making it a short 2 hour flight from Perth and the easiest way to get here. Once in Onslow, you can take the island transfer ferry service across. Ferry tickets need to be pre-booked, click here for timetable information. You can check Virgin's flight times and schedules here.
Thevenard Island is located 22km (12 nautical miles) from 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.
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.
To book your island transfer 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.
Yes, two 16kg bags per person is allowed.
Yes, please arrange with our reservation team prior to your arrival, on (08) 9184 6444 or [email protected].
Yes, secure overnight parking is available on the mainland in Onslow for cars, caravans and boat trailers, subject to availability. Prices are $15 per car or motorhome/campervan, $20 per car and towed caravan, $20 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.
Yes, on Thevenard Island there are 23 small boat moorings (5m to 8.5m) and 2 deep boat moorings (up to 12m) available close to shore and your cabin at $20 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.
Yes, refuelling is available between 4pm – 5pm and can be arranged at the island general store. We sell Unleaded, please advise us prior to arrival if you require Diesel so we can organise.
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].
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.
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.
No, sorry this is not permitted due to safety reasons, you will need to book accommodation on the island.
No, the 10 islands within the Mackerel Islands group are gazetted nature reserves, therefore no pets are permitted in order to protect the native plants and animals on the island. In addition, quarantine procedures are in place - please ensure your luggage and boats have been thoroughly checked and fumigated to prevent foreign insects, seeds and other pests arriving with you. Our team will ensure this has been done prior to launching your boats or when assisting in unloading your luggage.
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 full size fridge/freezer, stove top, oven, microwave, toaster, kettle, Nespresso coffee pod machine, plus pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, glassware and utensils. All cabins have a dining and lounge area with a TV and DVD player, and their own private bathroom, with the larger cabins having additional bathrooms and toilets. Outside there is a shaded beachfront area with a hammock, 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. There is no air-conditioning but there are ceiling fans. The kitchen is fully self-contained with a full size fridge/freezer, seperate deep freezer, stove top, oven, kettle and all cooking utensils. There is an indoor and outdoor dining setting, Weber BBQ, raised balcony deck with panoramic ocean views and an outdoor private bathroom.
All bed linen, bath towels, beach towels and complimentary soap are supplied in the cabins.
Thevenard Island is open April - December 2023 and March - October 2024. Fishing is great all year round, especially April and May. July and August are the best months to see migrating whales, and if you are interested in turtle activity, September and October is a great time to visit. Direction Island is closed for our 2023/2024 season.
Guest Services & Facilities
On Thevenard Island, there is a general store, tour and activity hire centre, guest laundry, BBQs and even a communal freezer to store your fishing catch. Our general store sells fuel for boats, ice, bait, tackle, alcohol and soft drinks. 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.
Yes, there is a guest laundry on Thevenard Island. You can use the free washing machines and detergent can be purchased at the island shop.
Yes, the Telstra 3G and Optus networks are available on the islands.
You can access the internet through your own device in strong signal areas on the island. There is no Wi-Fi connection available on the island.
Both islands operate on solar power with a generator backup. Lighting and 240V plug outlets are available in the cabins. The accommodation on Thevenard Island is also air-conditioned.
Food & Drinks
Yes, if you are staying on Thevenard Island, you will need to bring your own groceries (excluding alcohol) to self-cater. The beachfront cabins each have a Weber BBQ and a kitchen with a stovetop, oven, microwave, full size fridge/freezer, toaster, kettle, Nespresso coffee machine, plus pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, glassware and utensils.
On Tuesday and Saturday nights, from March – October 2024, we host "Dinner Under The Stars" casual island dinners. Prices are $40 per adult, $15 per child, kids under 5 free. Pre booking is essential on (08) 9184 6444 or [email protected].
If you are staying on Direction Island, you will need to bring all your own food and drinks in a sufficient supply for your stay. The beach shack kitchen is fully self-contained with a stovetop, oven, full size fridge/freezer, seperate deep freezer and all cooking utensils, plus a Weber BBQ.
Onslow town has a supermarket, newsagent and a small tackle store. Pre-ordering can be done through the Onslow Supermarket and picked up upon your arrival into Onslow. The staff at the Onslow Beach Resort can assist with the collection of your supplies if you are arriving by plane into Onslow. If you require any assistance with this, please organise with our reservations team prior to your arrival into Onslow.
Please note the Mackerel Islands operates a NO BYO ALCOHOL policy on Thevenard Island due to our liquor licensing conditions. You will need to buy your alcohol from the island general store and we are happy to order in special items with notice. If you’re playing castaway on Direction Island, BYO is acceptable.
Yes, there is a general store on Thevenard Island. It currently stocks basic items, but you can buy ice, water, soft drinks, beer, cider, wine, pre-mixes and spirits, plus fuel, bait and fishing tackle, at competitive prices.
We also have an Online Store, where you can pre-order your drink items in click and collect style to be ready for your arrival. Payment is made on pick-up of your items. Please note that a minimum of 14 days notice is required to fill your order. Check out the online store!
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.
Seeing Marine & Wildlife
You can see turtles all year swimming in the island's surrounding waters and reefs. September to April are the best months to see turtle breeding, nesting and hatching activity, following the Turtle Watching Code of Conduct Guidelines.
The Mackerel Islands are visited by hundreds of whales during their migration and calving season, from July to August. In addition to humpbacks, you may spot pilot whales, false killer whales, sei whales and bryde’s whales. You can see them from the beach and during your boat transfer to the island.
No, the island is totally snake-free! You may see other reptile species, including goannas, dragons, skinks, geckos and our friendly little ta-ta lizards.
In the ocean: the island is visited by dolphins, dugongs (sea cows), stingrays, wobbegongs, reef sharks, olive green sea snakes, nudibranchs, and are teeming with fish including clown fish, gropers, trevally schools, snapper, pearl perch, fusiliers, batfish and silver drummer.
On the land: 24 species of land birds have been recorded on the island. In addition, there are up to 31 species of migratory birds including kestrels, quails, godwits, plovers, sandpipers and harriers. Some birds migrate from remote northern hemisphere locations as far as Siberia, and are protected by international treaties. Seabirds, such as terns and shearwaters, nest from October to January. The only native land mammal on the island is the forrest mouse. The domestic mouse also inhabits the island and is most likely to have been introduced.
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.
You will need to BYO boat and diving equipment - there are currently no tank refills available. We can advise the best dive sites and locations. Most sites are between 3m and 18m and require a moderate level of experience, offering a chance to explore new dive sites teeming with a high diversity of corals and marine life, which have often never been in contact with a human being. Visit our Dive pages for more information.
Children & Families
We have a limited number of cots and high chairs, please book these prior to your arrival.
The Mackerel Islands are a fantastic destination for families. 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.
There's a fun range of equipment hire available from the island activity centre. You can 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, or head out for a sunset 4WD tour.
Need more to do? Go beachcombing, reef walking, stargazing, bird watching, whale or dolphin watching, see turtles nesting and hatching, or become part of history by writing and drawing in our Island Diaries.
Fish a variety of styles to suit conditions – game fishing, sportfishing, bottom fishing, trolling, sight casting, lure flicking, stick baiting, GT popping, deep water jigging, snorkelling for crays.
The Mackerel Islands are renowned for Red Emperor, Rankin Cod, Gold Band, Coral Trout, Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, Amberjack, Jobfish, Pearl Perch, Giant Trevally, Queenfish, Ruby Snapper, Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Squid and Tropical Crayfish.
Quality Reef Fish: Red Emperor, Coral Trout, Rankin Cod, NW Snapper
Pelagic Action: Spanish Mackerel, Sailfish, Yellow Fin Tuna, Wahoo
Giant Schools of Fun: Golden Trevally, Giant Trevally, Queenfish
Sight Casting: Trevally, Squid
Snorkelling: Tropical crayfish
For more see our Fish pages.
Please read our boating information here and our staff can assist with all your questions.
You will need to pre-book your parking and boat mooring hire with us - (08) 9184 6444 or [email protected].
Launch your boat from the Beadon Creek public boat ramp in Onslow after checking in at the Onslow Beach Resort. Boat skippers must be present at check-in to register.
Thevenard Island is located approximately 22km/12nM off the coast (about 45minutes) and is fringed by coral reef. A pair of channel markers identify the mooring bay area.
Direction Island can be seen from Onslow, located approximately 10km/5.5nM off the coast (about 20 minutes). Line of sight is used as the best navigation tool. The island is surrounded by reef, with only one channel safe to pass through into the mooring bay area, marked by a pair of buoys. It is recommended that you have a chart of the area with you along with a GPS and sounder. Boat owners should be aware that Direction Island requires a higher level of boating and outdoor skills.
Please note, while Mackerel Islands use the boat moorings for our own vessels year-round, we do not guarantee the safety of the moorings. Guests are responsible for checking and inspecting the mooring you use to ensure the suitability for your vessel and assure yourself that you are comfortable using it. Please report any defects to our team and ask for assistance if you are unsure how to secure your boat.
Please avoid bringing heavy luggage, restrictions apply due to manual handling - each item must not exceed 16kg.
Thevenard Island: 23 small boat moorings (5m to 8.5m) 2 deep boat moorings (up to 12m) Fuel available daily Bait, tackle, ice, freezer storage Shaded fish cleaning area Radio base operating on Thevenard Island VHF radio, channel 72 Safety support and Royal Flying Doctor services
Direction Island: 1 small boat mooring (up to 6m) Radio base operating on Thevenard Island VHF radio, channel 72 Safety support and Royal Flying Doctor services
Yes, refuelling is available between 4pm – 5pm and can be arranged at the island general store. We sell Unleaded, please advise us prior to arrival if you require Diesel so we can organise.
Spear guns must stay on boats and are not permitted to be brought onto Thevenard Island or be used within 2nm of Thevenard Island. This is to preserve the island’s family friendly snorkel trail. Spearing is also not permitted on the Mackerel Islands’ designated dive sites to ensure they remain protected. Breach of this will result in the early termination of your holiday.
The beachfront cabins each have a full size fridge/freezer. In addition we have communal freezer storage for the fishing fanatics out there, where we have large stores of fresh ice. Bags of ice can be purchased from the island general store. Thevenard Island has a state-of-the-art desalination plant pumping huge quantities of fresh water around the island, so ice is plentiful!
What To Bring / What Not To Bring
What to bring:
• Light clothing, swimwear, hats, sunglasses
• Sunscreen & insect repellent
• Toiletries & any medication
• Camera, books, music, etc
• Food - BYO all groceries or pre-shop at the Onslow Supermarket on the mainland
• Drinks - No BYO alcohol allowed due to our liquor licensing conditions. Pre-order from our online store or buy on the island
• Electronic form of payment (credit/debit card) - no cash accepted on the island
What NOT to bring:
• Engel fridges or similar are not permitted. There is plenty of fridge & freezer storage on the island
• Spear guns must stay on boats & are not permitted to be brought onto Thevenard Island or be used within 2nm of Thevenard Island or surrounding dive sites. This is to preserve the island's family friendly snorkel trail & dive trail
• Swags & camping are not permitted on Thevenard Island
• Heavy luggage items – due to items being manually handled, no one piece of luggage is to exceed 16kg
Drones cannot be used within 5.5km of the island by law due to our registered airstrip, however if you wish you can operate a drone from your boat while out fishing - as long as you maintain the distance requirement. The exclusion zone is necessary for the safety of pilots in the area and for the privacy of our guests on the island.
Weather & Travel Tips
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
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.
Booking & Payment
Yes, a 25% deposit is required to confirm your holiday/tour booking.
The full balance is due 28 days prior to your arrival date.
Read our full booking policy here.
Mackerel Islands operate in a remote location where cancellations often result in an inability to rebook your room to someone else. Cancellations made at least 28 days prior to your arrival date will receive a full refund less 10% administration fee of monies paid. Cancellations made inside the 28 day period will not be issued with a refund. All no shows will be charged full payment. Cancellations must be made direct to the Mackerel Islands reservations team via email [email protected] or phone (08) 9184 6444.
Read our full cancellation policy here.