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Ashmore Reef Report October 2005

By doina — last modified Oct 23, 2005 03:36 PM

Published: 2005-10-23 15:36:10
Countries: Australia

We just visited Ashmore Reef on our way to Bali from Darwin, Australia and would like to share some information on it. Your websites last update on the area is from 2002 and it is quite out of date and a lot of things have changed. Here is a short story I wrote about our stay there.

Ashmore Reef, Australia

We had read some conflicting accounts about Ashmore Reef and therefore weren’t really sure what to expect as it came into view after nearly five days of slow motoring with no wind all the way from Darwin, Australia. But we were about to be pleasantly surprised.

The approach into Ashmore Reef is incredibly easy, with an entrance nearly half a mile wide and plenty of depth even at low water. The entrance is on the NW side of the reef and runs NW to SE. As you come through the pass you have two options. The first and the easiest are the two yellow moorings that you will see to your port side. These are in about 60 feet of water, and not very scenic. Instead of stopping at these you can follow the extremely well marked channel that runs another 1.5 miles into the reef and closer to West Island. Here you will find a choice of 10 heavy-duty yellow moorings in about 30 feet of water. We had read that the moorings had been stolen by Indonesian fisherman but when we later told this story to the Customs officer he looked at us like we were crazy. Apparently, there is no problem with stolen moorings at Ashmore Reef. Yet another third party exaggerated cruiser story.

Within swimming distance of these moorings are numerous coral heads for great snorkeling as well as some shallower water over a sand bottom giving off a spectacular shade of blue. The marine life includes sting rays, spotted eagle rays, turtles, sea snakes, sharks, and of course tons of fish.

On West Island there is a beautiful sandy beach covered with all sorts of shells, which, because Ashmore Reef is a National Park, you are asked not to touch. Also of interest is a gravesite underneath a palm tree where three Indonesian fisherman are buried. A fresh water well is also located on the island but Customs doesn’t suggest using it unless it is an emergency.

Australian Customs stations a boat at Ashmore Reef. On our first night they stopped by the boat and told us that they maintained a boat here 365 days a year. However, the next morning they left and we didn’t see them again for 4 days. Leaving us this paradise entirely to ourselves.

We visited in early October, which is rather late in the season, and because of that we had virtually no wind during our visit, so we can’t attest to how well protected the area is with a wind piping up. But with a nice forecast it is an incredible place to stop and shouldn’t be missed if you can help it.

Please visit our website at if you would like to view photo's of our stay at Ashmore or to read more about the area.

Pat and Ali Schulte