Around 3,000 kms north-west of Perth, in the waters of the Indian Ocean, lie the tiny Cocos Keeling Islands – a remote Australian territory that’s closer to Sri Lanka than it is to Sydney. The two inhabited islands of this archipelago are home to very different versions of Australia.
West Island is home to the deposed heir of the Scottish Rajahs who ruled the Cocos as a family fiefdom for 150 years. He lives among a transient mob of contract workers, military personnel and voluntary castaways from the Australian mainland who enjoy all the benefits of sun, sea and duty-free living.
On nearby Home Island is a much larger, tight-knit Muslim community of Cocos Malays, who trace their roots back to ancestors brought to the islands as slaves and indentured labourers nearly two hundred ago. Pious and teetotal, they’ve forged a unique culture from a hybrid mix of SE Asian folk traditions and the Islamic faith.
Australia's Forgotten Islands - 30 May on SBS.