Our Story – The Beginning
The islands and accommodation you experience today are imbued with colourful souls who had passion, determination and vision to bring coastal Onslow and the Mackerel Islands to the world.
Our story began with a pocketful of personal savings from Ian Blair and Adrian Day in 1964, when they triumphed with their first granted lease after being met with continual opposition by the government for over two years.
Ian Blair was the local policeman, fishing charter operator, magistrate, undertaker and Onslow manager – steadfast in his commitment to the Onslow community (and a pretty busy guy).
Enter the current owners in 1973, a bunch of farming folk with a dream for tourism, and, in true Aussie style, purchased the business unseen from Ian based on the long-standing family friendships among them.
They found someone with a small yacht to take them to Thevenard Island, where they found three corrugated iron shacks built by Ian.
From this time the business was promoted as a tourist resort on Thevenard Island with outstanding success. They regularly set out on boys’ fishing trips to the islands to build larger cabins that would start to realise their dream.
Through brainstorming, communing over barbecues, and a fair dose of manual toiling, the accommodation facilities were improved and expanded. In 1982 the cabin on Direction Island was extended to provide for tourist accommodation, and has been used by many guests since then.
A widely travelled bunch, they appreciated their creature comforts during adventures, and sought to provide quality accommodation on the mainland in Onslow as well. 1997 marked the beginning of the ‘Onslow Mackerel Motel’, later to be transformed to the Onslow Beach Resort you see standing on Beadon Bay today.
The Shields’ investment into the Onslow area over the years extends far beyond financial. Despite challenges and tough times, their unwavering faith in the potential of the area for tourism has prevailed.
The early 80’s saw WAPET (WA Petroleum) discover lucrative oil and gas fields, leading to the North West Shelf Project. Construction commenced adjacent to Thevenard Island’s tourism lease following the discovery of the Saladin oil field circa 1985.
The Mackerel Islands and WA Petroleum maintained a harmonious and collaborative association throughout the past 30 years of operation. Currently decommissioning of the projects is under way, where some of the infrastructure still stands on Thevenard Island.
In the coming years this will be removed, leaving Mackerel Islands to devote sole use of Thevenard Nature Reserve to developing eco-tourism facilities and activities.
The Mackerel Islands team promise is to provide unique tourism experiences that harness the mesmerising beauty of the natural, pristine environment in the Ashburton and wider Pilbara region.
We aim to give back to the community through our commitment to customer service and warm hospitality, and through reconnecting people with what’s important in life.