Buccaneer Archipelago – a marine wonder

The Kimberley’s Buccaneer Archipelago, offshore from the mouth of the Fitzroy River in King Sound, is dominated by the second largest tides in the world and contains a highly diverse array of coral lagoons, seagrass meadows, sponge gardens and deep-water canyons.

This beautiful area, proposed for Marine Park status in the State Government’s 2019 Plan for Our Parks, comprises some 800 or more islands and low-lying reef with small embayments and secluded white sandy beaches. It is rich in native land and marine wildlife – birds, mammals, reptiles (some deadly dangerous), fish and sharks.

The archipelago is part of a ria or drowned coastline. The islands are rugged and sparsely vegetated with patches of rainforest in moist areas and a fringing of mangroves where silt has accumulated. The area is pristine and remote. Anyone sailing to and walking on the islands and swimming or fishing in the waters should take every precaution to ensure their safety. Appropriate radio and survival and first aid equipment is essential.

The Buccaneer Archipelago was named in 1821 by Captain Phillip Parker King in commemoration of William Dampier’s visit to this part of the coast in 1688. However, Aboriginal people have lived in the archipelago for thousands of years and their rock art can be found on many islands and the adjacent mainland. They used rafts of mangrove logs and canoes to travel between the islands. Aboriginal people today maintain close ties with the area, visiting traditional sites, fishing, conducting tourism activities and building new settlements on their traditional lands.

Macassar people also visited the area from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and left evidence in campsites with taco plants and Tamarind trees growing in remote coastal locations.
Since the launching of the wide-ranging Plan for Our Parks to expand Western Australia’s conservation estate, the State Government has continued to consult with key stakeholders and interest holders, including: traditional owners, conservation groups, the resource sector, commercial and recreational fishers, pastoralists, local government authorities and neighbours.  Further consultation will occur.