Post 16 A tiny dot in the Indian Ocean. The Cocos and Keeling Islands!
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
1800 miles from Perth, these islands are just over halfway between Sri Lanka and Perth. They are 2 coral atolls formed on top of long extinct volcanoes, and their height is just 10 feet above sea level!
They were a British colony, and their location meant they were ideal for an RAF base in WW2. Chris’ dad was sent here in April 1945 to maintain the radar system on uninhabited Horsburgh island. He wrote over 200 letters home to his wife, which Chris has in 2 shoeboxes!
He described the islands as paradise, and Chris has always wanted to visit. So here we are!
The islands are low lying, with many palm trees and jungle shrubs.
Only 2 islands are inhabited. West island by 150 people, mainly of Australian descent, and Home island where about 500 Cocos Malay people live. This is a muslim island. Everyone lives very harmoniously together. Just 2 flights per week, if weather permits, must carry every essential they could need. Coral and sand are not a good medium for growing food!
On our first morning, the owner of our cottage, The Birds Nest took us 5 miles across the lagoon by boat to Horsburgh. A real Robinson Crusoe island and very special for Chris.
The buildings are all gone, and the jungle has reclaimed most of the land. A few rusty gun parts remain!
We hiked to the ‘lagoon’. Birds were quite unafraid of us. This is a beautiful white swift.
All around the lagoon were magnificent weathered stumps and branches of ironwood trees.
There were hermit crabs everywhere. Each time I picked up a nice shell….there was a crab inside!
Chris picked a coconut, and drank from it, just as his dad did 72 years ago.
He cut it open with a vicious looking knife provided by Geof!
In the evening we took the ferry to Home Island, where the Malays live, and had a super supper. Coming back across the lagoon in the darkness was magical. Such beautiful stars.
Day 2 was a lazy day. We wanted to snorkel at Trannies Beach, but had no transport. Our caretaker just said ‘ take my car’! No-one locks their house doors here, and you leave your keys in the ignition whenever you park! We saw a variety of fish, and a black tipped reef shark. We were the only people there!
The pace of life here is S-L-O-WWWWWWW! I couldn’t stand it for long! Opening hours are strange… the shop shuts at 3pm. There are several cafes, but each one opens just a few times a week. Our dinner was at Maxis by the sea! Gorgeous sunset and a great pumpkin curry!