Ashmore and Cartier Islands are a territory off the northwest coast of Australia.
These uninhabited islands came under Australian authority in 1931; formal administration began two years later. Ashmore Reef supports a rich and diverse avian and marine habitat; in 1983 it became a National Nature Reserve. Cartier Island, a former bombing range, is now a marine reserve. This is a difficult travel destination due to restrictions on access and being in the area of illegal boat movements.
Understanding its location is a useful reference point for understanding boats and their passage between Indonesia and Australia. Monitoring of, or patrolling of the location is, in all probability, a part of the Australian government's policies of controlling illegal immigration.
There is mostly no-one to talk to given the islands are uninhabited, although you may come across Australian officials speaking English or Indonesian fisherman speaking Rotinese or other eastern Indonesian languages.
Get in and around
It is a protected area. Only the east beach and west corridor of the West Island Lagoon of Ashmore Island are open to the public. Cartier Island is off limits due to unexploded ordnance. For most of the year, the Australian Border Force ship Thaiyak is in the vicinity. For access to any other part of the Ashmore Islands or any part of Cartier Island, a permit from the Australian government is required.
For the accessible West Island Lagoon, there is no landing strip. Visitors must arrive by boat, and those visiting must use visitor-designated moors. If none are available, you can only anchor in sand. Anchoring in or near the coral is not permitted.
Buy, eat, drink and sleep
There are no facilities on the islands. Make sure to bring your own food, water and a tent.
Noting the status of the water supply and low lying nature of the islands, it is best to keep away.
The wells that may be available are contaminated by cholera.
If due to an accident you find yourself in the area of these islands and their reefs - the Indonesian island of Roti is 144 km north, and Australia's north west coast is over 300 km to the south.
- Australian mainland