Vansittart Bay and Jar Island

What draws people to Vansittart Bay and Jar Island? Apart from the pristine white beaches, the glassy aqua waters and the jagged sandstones that teeter on the water’s edge? The discovery of rock paintings dating back 40,000 years, the grave of a DC3 WWII aircraft and shards of exotic, ethnic pottery…Vansittart Bay is surrounded by the glistening aqua waters of the Timor Sea. Picturesque as it is, it’s the cultural, historical and natural importance that is the big pull. It is an aboriginal site of traditional camping sites, home of a giant sea spirit who made the water salty for the other marine animals as well as a watering hole for the northern quoll and water goanna. The bay is also a haven for yachties, finding shelter from rough seas, and, because of its bounty of anthropological and historical wonders nearby, is a frequent stop-off for the Kimberley cruise ships touring the area. You will find the skeleton of a DC3 WWII aircraft on Vansittart Bay and this has become a very popular stop for most Kimberley cruises. During World War II, the plane was on its way from Perth but had to crash land onto the saltpan after it veered off course and ran out of fuel. It was on a mercy mission, evacuating four Dutch citizens from the island of Java and it was fortunate that all on board lived to tell the tale. They were later rescued by a Qantas Flying Boat, leaving behind the DC3 to its fate. It is a great place for photos and, because I know that no one died I really enjoy stopping in there when on a cruise.

Jar Island is located close to Vansittart Bay and is a must-see stop off because of the Gwion Gwion artworks found there. Anyone from WA will tell you, the Kimberley region has a significant amount of Aboriginal cave paintings and art, but this particular style is plentiful (estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands and spread over 50,000 square kilometres of the Kimberley region) and old. Make that very old. Experts think that the oldest of the drawings date back as far as 40,000 years! Aboriginals name the paintings Gwion after the bird whose blood was used to create them.


About Jenny

I’m an expert in small ship cruising in the Kimberley and have completed four cruises on different vessels along this spectacular coastline. With a family I now work part-time so if you would like to have a chat with me about Kimberley cruising at a time that suits you book in a call here  and I will call you then.

Cruises in the Kimberley are not ‘one size fits all’ scenario; there are different ships and itineraries each offering their own special elements.  If you would like some general information to start your research then download my free guide to Kimberley cruising here.   I have also written some really interesting blogs (if I do say so myself) click here to have read.