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Located some 2700 km north west of Perth, Cocos (Keeling) Islands were first recorded by Captain William Keeling in 1609. Steeped in history, the islands were originally settled by the Alexander Hare and the Clunies-Ross family in the early 1800's primarily for the cultivation and harvesting of copra, an activity that no longer exists. In fact, Cocos (Keeling) is free of any industry other than tourism, which is still in its infancy. Charles Darwin once graced the shores of Cocos, where he developed his well-known theory of atoll formation. Describing the Cocos (K) reef in 1836, he wrote:
"The ocean throwing its waters over the broad reef appears an invincible, all-powerful enemy: yet we see it resisted, and even conquered, by means which at first seem most weak and inefficient".
Take a pleasant ferry ride across the lagoon to Home Island where the majority of the residents (pop. ~650) are Cocos Malays. Sample the wonderful, spicy Malay cuisine at one of the local restaurants or take a picnic lunch and sit under the canopy of one of the huge trees gracing the foreshore. The Cocos Malay community are devout Muslims; so for those who wish to visit Home Island, please dress conservatively to avoid offending. While on Home Island visit the Museum, and familiarise yourself with the chequered history of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and all the details relating to Australia's first Naval victory: the sinking of SMS Emden, a notorious German raider. Also a "must see" is Oceania House, the former residence of the Clunies-Ross family.
Unlike most holiday island destinations such as Bali, or many of the Pacific Islands, Cocos (K) Islands do not have huge resorts, shopping centres, restaurants, gift shops or organised activities. If these are high on your list of priorities, then Cocos (K) may not be for you; tourism here is uncomplicated and simplistic, which enhances the beauty of the Islands. For residents and visitors, Cocos (K) is a sanctuary, and a safe haven for all to enjoy. Tourists are greeted by the locals and immediately feel as if they are a part of this close-knit community. SMILE and be made welcome!
In the Directory
- Sunset in paradise - Photo courtesy of Karen Willshaw - Cocos Solutions
- Prison Island - Photo courtesy of Karen Willshaw - Cocos Solutions
- The 4th tee - Photo courtesy of Karen Willshaw - Cocos Solutions