Wilderness Island

Reporter: Graeme Butler

This is a place time forgot rugged and isolated. Wilderness Island is also a place where Jim Alston dared to dream - his story is as remarkable as the landscape he now lives in. "I was told I may not walk again, I was told I definitely wouldn't work again I'd be made an invalid pensioner and I was only 27 years old and I thought 27s a bit young to be an invalid."

The boat trip to Wilderness Island takes a bit over an hour across the Exmouth gulf, as the boat approaches the island it turns into a mangrove creek - it glides through the small opening between the trees and the rest of civilisation slips away. This is the welcome to W.A's private island hideaway.Like his boyhood hero Robinson Crusoe, Jim Alston has carved his home from a desert Island. It wasn't a shipwreck that landed Jim here but it was a crash - a paragliding accident that nearly claimed his life 13 years ago his shute became tangled and he plummeted to earth. Jim had broken nearly every bone in his body. and had multiple internal injuries. The accident left Jim fighting for his life, his recovery saw him searching for a new one.

Jim found his dream on an isolated island off the coast of Exmouth. After years of negotiation with the government and traditional owners - Jim secured a long term lease and Wilderness Island was born. From the rugged landscape of red dirt and spinifex Jim set about building an eco-resort - where visitors can share the experience. It was hard work - backbreaking work - but it also led to Jim Discovering the other great love of his life. Kim's story is almost as remarkable as Jim's - she was born in Denmark, Europe the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. Kim was backpacking around Australia when she landed in Exmouth. Together the couple have built accommodation and facilities on the island - everything shipped over and built on site.

The island is home to a mob of kangaroos and a host of small lizards and birds it's also a fishing paradise. Catching your dinner can be as much fun as eating it and it's not just fish - how about fresh mud crabs. Jim's catching technique has to be seen to be believed remember one false move and you can lose a finger or toe to those giant claws. The crabs make a sensational dinner, cooked over a hot wok - this is wilderness island chilli crab.

While on the surface the landscape of wilderness island looks barren and harsh below the waves life flourishes in abundance - silver batfish shoal in their hundreds. Baitfish dart on the rising swell and a rocky ledge provides a perfect hiding place - a couple of scorpion fish try to hide from the camera these are a pair to leave well alone. You don't even have to snorkel to get a close up look at the incredible sea life - low tide turns the beach and reef into a giant rock pool - fish, rays - even reef sharks become trapped in nature's aquarium until the rising waters set them free again.

Wilderness island isn't exactly in the middle of nowhere but you'd have to say its pretty close Perth is 12 hundred kilometres behind me. the nearest town is Exmouth which is 20 nautical miles straight across the gulf. Its' the sort of place you'd describe as splendid isolation you're not going to bump into any tourists here in fact you'd be lucky to bump into any one at all. For visitors to the island the facilities are basic, no flushing toilets and a bathroom on the beach, though there's no way you could call this is roughing it. The accommodation is comfortable and relaxing and then there's the main living area and a bar like no other you'll have ever seen. Wilderness Island has been a remarkable journey from near death to realising a dream - and now Jim Alston is living his.

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