History, Shipwrecks, Pearls and Lobsters


The Houtman Abrolhos Islands are named after Dutch explorer Frederick de Houtman, who came across several of the low-lying, coral reef-fringed islands in June 1619 on the Dordrecht. He wrote of the discovery in a letter to the directors of the Dutch East India Company:

On the 29th do. deeming ourselves to be in an open sea, we shaped our course north-by-east. At noon we were in 29° 32' S. Lat.; at night about three hours before daybreak, we again unexpectedly came upon a low-lying coast, a level, broken country with reefs all round it. We saw no high land or mainland, so that this shoal is to be carefully avoided as very dangerous to ships that wish to touch at this coast. It is fully ten miles in length, lying in 28° 46.

ShipwrecksAbrolhos Pearls

According to the Australian National Shipwreck Database there are 52 shipwrecks recorded off the Abrolhos Islands from the sailing vessel Batavia in 1629 to the trawler Southern Cross in 1971.


The pearls cultivated from the Abrolhos Islands are becoming increasingly well-known. From the Akoya Pearl to the Black Lipped Pearl and a variety of colours in between, these pearls can be made into a jeweller’s work of art. For a list of jewellers in Geraldton and to purchase a unique Abrolhos pearl contact the Geraldton Visitor Centre.


A sought after delicacy on a visit to Geraldton. The Western Rock Lobster is Western Australia’s most valuable commercial fishery and the waters around the Abrolhos are an important lobster-breeding site. The islands used to house commercial cray fishers during the allocated season. Now the industry operates all year round on a quota system.