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Crazy chopper antics off the WA coast

Thursday, May 26, 2011
It was time for Jules Lund to get his safari suit out for a safari with a difference. He loved being part of a four-wheel drive convoy in Africa, but this time, he was in Western Australia to take part in a tandem helicopter flight with Skywest.

Eleven helicopters, headed out in tandem from Perth's Skywest base out to the remote Abrolhos Islands, west of Geraldton. Twenty minutes over water with no land or civilisation in sight, Jules was relieved to see Abrolhos, home for the next couple of days.

The Abrolhos Islands consist of 122 specks of sand clustered into three main groups — the Wallabi, Easter and Pelsaert. They cover 100km of ocean from north to south.

The islands and their surrounding coral reef communities form one of WA's unique marine areas. It's a meeting place for tropical and temperate sealife. More than 90 species of seabird have been identified that gather in large breeding colonies.

When they arrived, the group transferred to Eco Abrolhos, a cruise boat. It has three decks as well as air-conditioned cabins. They don't pretend to be anything but basic, but are comfortable and roomy. Besides, there's so much to see and do you could probably sleep on a clothesline.

Jules said it's not right to call it fishing out here. He said it should be called "catching"; five seconds after his line hit the water he had a bite. He's proof you don't need to be a professional to reel in the big ones.

The waters off the coast of Western Australia also have plenty of crayfish and for three months of the year, shacks are jam-packed with fishermen and their families who catch up to 15,000 tonnes of crays, which are in high demand around the world. Their three months might be spent in basic old shacks, but it's quite likely their homes on the mainland are quite different.

Can there be anything sweeter than being snuggled up to by a playful sea lion pup? Jules doesn't think so.

It's pretty spectacular under the water, too. Just knowing you have over a hundred islands all to yourself and discovering an underwater tropical paradise is pretty overwhelming. It's an adventure not to miss.

Location

The Abrolhos Islands, 60km off Geraldton on Western Australia's coast.

Cost

Heliwest Helicopter Safari's Abrolhos Islands trips cost $1900 per person. They depart from Jandakot Airport, south of Perth's CBD. They also offer flights from Burswood Casino, Perth's CBD, Fremantle and beaches. They operate on weekends, weather permitting.

Virgin Australia has one-way flights to Perth from:

  • Adelaide $198
  • Sydney and Melbourne $215
  • Brisbane $239
  • Darwin $249
  • Canberra $259

There are limited seats, which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at May 26, 2011, and are subject to change.

Prices correct at May 26, 2011.

For further information

Virgin Australia
Ph: 136 789
www.virginaustralia.com.au

Heliwest
2-4 Harvard Road
Jandakot, WA 6164
Ph: (08) 9499 7700
Fax: (08) 9414 1080
www.heliwest.com.au
tours@heliwest.com.au

User comments
Is the price of $1900pp just for the helicopter flight or does that also include the Eco Abrolhos as well. Can't find any information on Heliwest's website..
Hi Tracey, camera is a go-pro.
Just to let people know, the helicopter company in this story is called Heliwest and they're based out of Jandakot. They are NOT Skywest as they are a WA operated airline. Cheers
It would be great to know what type of waterproof camera Jules was using when he jumped off the helicopter as it looks great an looks like it would be well worth purchasing for underwater picture-videoing

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