WA island and eco-resort yours for the taking
Accessible only by air or water, Western Australia’s Wilderness Island and its eco resort are now on the market.
Located 22 nautical miles east of Exmouth, the island is an hour-long trip by boat or 10 minutes by plane.
Its remoteness makes the surrounds a haven for some of the most diverse species of marine life, including front row seats to the annual humpback whale migration.
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Creating the eco resort
It was a paragliding accident almost 20 years ago and a forced career change that led Jim Alston to the little-known secluded hideaway of Wilderness Island.
Set off the coast of Exmouth in Western Australia and on the doorstep of the Ningaloo World Heritage Area, Wilderness Island is an ecological wonderland that Jim Alston and his wife Kim Nguyen have transformed into a successful eco-tourism enterprise.
“I grew up on a cattle station in the WA Pilbara region. I had a bad paragliding accident in 2000 and was told I may not walk again, and that I certainly wouldn’t ever work again,” Alston says.
“It basically redirected my life and forced a career change on me so I came up with the plan of going into tourism.
“I knew that Wilderness Island was there but I had never visited it before because it’s inaccessible by land because of the geography and the only way in there was by boat and we never owned a boat,” he says.
Once he got out of a wheelchair and was able to walk again, Alston and his father hired a boat to have a look at the island.
“I did some research and found that eco-tourism was the fastest growing industry on the planet at the time and there were less and less wilderness places in the world that haven’t been encroached upon, and that’s certainly one of them.”
Time to find a new owner
For seven years, Alston worked to obtain a lease for the unallocated crown land.
Since then, the couple has transformed the island, building an eco-resort, which now includes a main lodge, six stand-alone cabins, a workshop, desalination plant, moorings for three vessels and a 700m dirt airstrip.
Alston says while he is still in love with the island and all its offerings, complications from his accident have encouraged him to list the property for sale.
He says prospective buyers could continue to run the island as an eco-tourism venture or use it as their own private retreat.
“I’ve been doing it 14 years, and my wife has been there eight years with me, and we’re looking towards the next chapter in life, I guess,” he says.
“But if we don’t get the price we’re looking for we aren’t going anywhere. We’re happy to stay or to leave for the right price.
“We might be searching for the rest of our lives for anything remotely like this island. I think an opportunity like this only comes along once in your life.”