Inspiring Places

The first time Ashley Sutton saw the Houtman Abrolhos Islands

The interior designer was wowed by the otherworldly beauty of this remote Australian island chain

Three years ago, I sailed to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands off the coast of Western Australia with some friends on an expedition for National Geographic.

It’s quite a journey from the mainland to the islands. You get a boat from the small fishing port of Geraldton, then it’s about three hours at sea. It’s deep sea until you get to the islands, which are really coral atolls, only rising about a metre above the surface like specks on the horizon.

It was a relief to pull our boat up to the jetty. For the first part of the journey, it’s like you’re heading nowhere, with no other boats for miles around. Then you see seabirds and turtles, and the sea changes from black to blue to turquoise, and you know you’re close to land. Be careful not to scrape the coral on your way in – although it’s almost impossible.

Ashley Sutton

The Houtman Abrolhos have humpback whales, killer whales and a lot of history. Most memorably, in 1629 the Dutch ship Batavia was shipwrecked on the islands, which caused an all-out mutiny and massacre.

This atoll chain is more otherworldly than the Great Barrier Reef, as it’s only inhabited by a few fishermen that stay for one month of the year. It’s incredible – the best-kept secret in the world.

Ashley Sutton is the designer of the Iron Fairies, Ophelia and J Boroski bars in Bangkok and Hong Kong

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Discovery online brings together all the inspirational travel writing from our two inflight magazines, Discovery and Silkroad. Be sure to look out for the print editions when you next fly with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
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