Willis Island is the only permanently inhabited island in the Coral Sea Islands Territory, an external territory of Australia, located beyond the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea. The island is located some 450 kilometres (280 mi) east of Cairns, Queensland. It is the southernmost of the Willis Islets, a group of three islands which with their associated sandy cays stretch in a NNE to SSW line for about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi). Willis Island itself is aligned NW to SE and is about 500 metres (1,600 ft) long by 150 metres (490 ft) wide, 7.7 hectares (19 acres) in area, rising to about 9 metres (30 ft) above sea level. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willis_Island
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has a weather station on the island. There are usually four weather observers, 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 and equipped with a radio transmitter in order to provide a cyclone early warning service for Queensland ,
From 2005, the following new facilities and services have been constructed:
- Meteorological office, mess area, accommodation, recreational area, powerhouse
- Hydrogen generator building and gas storage, including associated site works
- Relocated fuel storage tanks to a new concrete bunded diesel fuel area
- Underground services related to communications, power distribution, water, sewage and fire hose reel services
- Relocated satellite dishes and radar tower
- Refurbished salt water pump building
Accommodation facilities caters for four permanent staff and up to 10 visiting personnel.
Meteorological equipment includes a defined equipment enclosure and a 7-metre-high (23 ft) radar tower plus dome. Other equipment includes a desalination plant and envirocycle sewage treatment plant. Power generation comprises a hybrid system of a diesel generator combined with a wind generator and solar power. Rainwater harvesting has not been implemented due to the high level of marine bird life and guano deposits.
The most common inhabitants are wedge-tailed shearwaters, sooty terns and common and black noddies. Their numbers are usually quite high and bird cries continue day and night on the island. 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. 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