Willis Island (Coral Sea)

Willis Island (Coral Sea)

"Not to be confused with Willis Islands"

Willis Island is an island in an external territory of Australia, located beyond the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea some 420 km east of Cairns, Queensland. It is the southernmost of a group of three islands, which with their associated sandy cays stretch in a NNE to SSW line for about 12 km. Willis Island itself is aligned NW to SE and is about 500 m long by 150 m wide, 7.7 ha in area, rising to just under 10 m above sea level. It is the only permanently inhabited island in Australia's Coral Sea Islands Territory.

Weather Monitoring Station

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has a weather monitoring station on the island.cite web |title= Willis Island - Daily Weather Observations |publisher= Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology |url= http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/dwo/IDCJDW4134.latest.shtml |accessdate= 2008--7-15] There are usually three Technical Officers (Weather Observers) present, one of whom is Officer-in-Charge, and one Technical Officer (Electronic Engineering) living on the island.


The Willis Island weather monitoring station was established in 1921, mainly as an early warning station for cyclones, for which it was equipped with a radio transmitter. The first officer in charge was John King Davis.


The station has a recreation room which includes amenities such as a pool table, darts and table tennis. An outside sporting area and a home gym are also provided for those desiring vigorous activity. There is also recreational fishing, with some competition from the birdlife.

For the windy days spent on the island, more leisurely recreation is also available. A substantial library caters for all tastes. Two satellite television systems enable reception of Australian Channel 10 and the ABC, and of free-to-air transmissions from countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Programming includes the USA television channels CNN and MTV and an extensive video library completes the passive entertainment options.

Pollution Issues

Over the decades of human occupation, a considerable amount of rubbish of many types accumulated. Much of it was buried but occasionally high winds and heavy seas from a cyclone would uncover parts of the rubbish dump. A major clean-up campaign was conducted to protect the sensitive areas such as the coral cays and sand dunes. All rubbish generated on the island now is placed in bins to be shipped back on the staff exchange vessel for disposal on the mainland.

This island generates its own supply of hydrogen for use in weather balloons. Prior to 1994, the island used a chemical process to meet its hydrogen needs. This process produced a toxic residue that was a danger to the local birdlife. Because of this danger, the island now uses an electrolytic converter to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen.


The most common inhabitants are Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Sooty Terns and Common and Black Noddies. Several species of booby migrate through the Island including Masked, Brown and Red-footed Boobies, and also the Lesser Frigatebird. Crested Terns are also seen to migrate, although not as often. [http://www.austehc.unimelb.edu.au/fam/0615.html] Other birds mentioned by John King Davis are the Buff-banded Rail as a resident, Wood Sandpiper, and Sacred Kingfisher and Red-tailed Tropicbird as occasional visitors.


* Anon. (2005). "Redevelopment of Willis Island Meteorological Office, Coral Sea". Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: Canberra. ISBN 0-642-78700-X
* Davis, John King. (1923). "Willis Island: a storm-warning station in the Coral Sea". Critchley Parker: Melbourne.

ee also

*List of islands of Australia


External links

* [http://www.ga.gov.au/education/facts/dimensions/externalterr/coral.htm Coral Sea Islands]
* [http://www.austehc.unimelb.edu.au/fam/0601.html Federation and Meteorology - Seventy-Five Years at Willis Island]
* [http://mirror.bom.gov.au/products/IDR413.shtml Willis Island Rain Radar]

Aerial photos & maps

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