montebello islands A bomb sites
Ron & Viv at one of the A-bomb sites.

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montebello islands houseboat

The houseboat, Full Monte, is anchored
in Claret Bay.

Nemo comes to pick Viv up from a
deserted beach.

montebellow islands beach


While at Exmouth recently we took the opportunity to spend a week on the little known and rarely visited Montebello Islands.

The Montebellos consist of 250 low lying islands and islets about 80km offshore from the mainland (at the closest point) and about 120km north from Exmouth.

Nicolas Baudin, the great French navigator, named them in 1801 and in the 1870s commercial turtle hunting began, which lasted for nearly 100 years. Cultural pearls were farmed from 1902 until just recently.

Still, the most dramatic and controversial events that enveloped the islands were the British atomic bomb tests of the 1950s. Between October 1952 and June 1956 the Brits detonated three A-bombs here, including the biggest explosion ever to occur in Australia.     

The houseboat, Full Monte, is anchored in Claret Bay.
Nemo comes to pick Viv up from a deserted beach. 

montebello islands fishing

Just some of the fish we caught one afternoon.
Ron with one of the many Spanish mackeral caught - most were released.

montebello islands fishing spanish mackeral

Opened again in 1989 for pearling and the occasional visitor, today you can visit these islands relatively easy through Montebello Island Safaris. Most people go for the incredible fishing but the diving can be good (at times of neap tides), while there are some incredible uncrowded surf breaks. We went for a bit of fishing, some snorkelling and exploring of these rarely visited islands.s

montebello islands kylin






Kylin and the houseboat - our home while on the Montebellos.


montebello islands fishing sailfish






This beautiful sailfish was one of three - all were released.

The 65 foot Kylin is the mother ship and fishing platform while accommodation is provided in the 14-berth Full Monte houseboat anchored in Claret Bay at the southern end of the convoluted Hermite Island. The 25-foot diesel powered jet boat, Nemo, is used as a highspeed touring and diving platform around the islands, while three small 14-foot alloy runabouts with 15hp outboards are provided for clients to fish and do their own thing in and around the closer islands to the Full Monte.


montebello islands diving

We had a ball, caught a heap of fish, did a little snorkelling as the tides weren't really suitable and the water wasn't clear, and explored the islands and the old A-bomb sites with their rusting relics and ageing military equipment.

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The water wasn't all that clear … Bugger!     

 Exploring the Montebello Islands.       

montebello islands exploring

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