Australia itself is the largest island in
the world. There’s so much to do in this mammoth country, that you might not
realise Australia also has 8222 islands off its shores. Yes you read that correctly:
eight-thousand-two-hundred-and-twenty-two. I was rather clueless when I
booked my very first backpacking trip to Australia and had never heard of any
of the islands on this list. As it turns out, trips to these islands were some
of my best experiences.
Writing about all 8222 islands, I’ve
decided, would take up most of my lifetime and probably take you almost as long
to read. There are many beautiful islands in Australia, each with their own
unique wildlife, flora and fauna, climates and landscapes. So I’m going to
share with you five of my favourites.
Where is it?
Kangaroo island lies off the coast of South Australia. It is a 45 minute ferry
ride from Cape Jervis.
What can you do there? Despite the name, Kangaroo Island isn’t just about kangaroos,
although you will see them hopping about in the bush. You can get incredibly
close to wild sea lions as they bask on the beach at Seal Bay, and spot koala
bears munching on eucalyptus trees in Hanson Bay. For something a little bit different,
wacky Wallaby Bob will welcome you into his home and take you on a night
fishing experience at Baudin Beach. Kangaroo Island has miles of beautiful
beaches, and perhaps the most stunning of them all is Vivonne Bay, once voted
as Australia’s Best Beach. Thrill-seeking backpackers can spend a day
sandboarding down the sand dunes at Little Sahara and race around on quad bikes
at sunset for a unique chance to spot kangaroos and other wildlife. Get your
camera out for the perfect photo opportunity at the Remarkable Rocks, which
truly are ‘remarkable’. These unusual rocks have been shaped by erosion from
the wind and sea spray and the bright orange lichen contrasting against the
bright blue sky makes for some incredible photos.
Getting there: If you’re visiting Adelaide and you don’t have a vehicle you might
want to consider a tour to the island departing from the city. If you prefer to
see things independently, you can go over by yourself from Cape Jervis on the
Sealink passenger/car ferry which drops you off in Penneshaw.
Where is it? Affectionately called “Rotto” by the people of Perth, Rottnest
island sits off the coast of Perth in Western Australia.
What can you do there? Rottnest Island used to be called “Rottenest” with an ‘e’, but as
you can imagine that sounded a bit rotten. It got its name from the Dutch for
‘rat’s nest’ because explorers thought that the ‘quokkas’ which inhabit the
island looked like giant rats. They’re not rats, they are in fact marsupials
which resemble pint-sized kangaroos and you’ll find them all over the island.
The island is a popular place for Perthians to take a weekend break and enjoy
the water sports the island has to offer.There are no cars permitted on the
island, so most people like to explore it by bicycle or use the island bus
service. Hire a bike to ride the cycle paths or take a scenic joy flight for an
aerial view of the reefs, beaches and salt lakes. Spend an afternoon on one of Rotto’s 63 gorgeous beaches and
dive or snorkel over the island’s coral reefs to explore the marine life and
Getting there: Ferry services run from Hillary’s Boat Harbour in the north of
Perth, Barrack Street Jetty in Perth’s City centre and Freemantle in the south.
You can also fly from Jandakot Airport to Rottnest Island with Rottnest Air
Taxi. If you’re lucky and you know someone in Perth with their own boat, then
you can go on your own private boat too.
Where is it? Fraser is in Queensland, between Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay, just
north of the Sunshine Coast.
What can you do there? Fraser Island is a favourite for backpackers travelling up and down
the East Coast of Australia because it’s so much fun! Most of the fun is in the
driving since you can drive on the island’s beaches. Seventy-five-mile Beach is
an actual highway and has a speed limit of 80km/hr, whilst the inland roads
have a limit of 35km/hr. Driving conditions vary with the tide and the weather
and normal road rules apply. Fraser Island has some beautiful freshwater lakes:
laze on the powder white sands next to Lake McKenzie and roll down the sand
dunes next to the vivid green waters of Lake Wabby. Take a dip in the Champagne
Pools as the water from the ocean crashes against the rocks. A trip to Fraser
Island is a great camping experience where you can cook your own meals, set up
tents and camp out under the stars.
Getting there: You have a number of options for travelling to Fraser Island but
either way, Fraser Island is strictly for 4x4s because of the sandy conditions.
If you don’t like the idea of driving, you can take a bus tour from Rainbow
Beach or Hervey Bay. You can also book a self-drive experience where you will
be arranged into groups at your hostel in Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay. You’ll
go shopping for food with the other backpackers in your group and be shown how
to use your 4x4. You’ll then pack up your vehicle and make your way to the
ferry point to start your Fraser Island experience! If you’re travelling with
friends and would like to do it yourselves, then you can hire or use your own
4x4 and take the ferry over from Hervey Bay to the island. Remember that you
have to have a special access permit to drive on Fraser; if you’re on an
organized experience this will be done for you, but otherwise you need to obtain
Where is it? Magnetic Island is an island off the coast of Queensland and can be
reached by ferry from Townsville in Queensland.
What can you do there? This tropical island is a 20 minute ferry ride away across Cleveland
Bay and is home to over two thousand permanent residents. You’ve probably heard
of the legendary full-moon parties in Thailand, but the BASE hostel on Magnetic
Island also hosts its own full moon party on the beach at Nelly Bay! Rent a
Topless Car or a Classic Moke and whizz around the island to explore some of
the beaches and lush tropical scenery. Make sure you do the Forts Walk from
Bungalow Bay Koala Village to spot koalas in the wild. You can also climb
concrete structures from the Second World War for panoramic views of the
island. Laze on the beach at Horseshoe Bay and sit on the jetty at Picnic Bay
as the sun sets over the ocean.
Getting there: Take the passenger ferry or car/passenger ferry from Townsville
over to Magnetic Island.
Where is it? Phillip Island lies off the coast of the state of Victoria, south
east of Melbourne.
What can you do there? Visitors are attracted to Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade,
when Little Penguins come ashore at sunset in big groups. These Little Penguins
have become a reconisable symbol of the island and appear regularly on Phillip
Island postcards. If you love the Ozzie wildlife then take a cruise to Seal
Rocks, where you can observe the largest colony of fur seals in Australia, or
see Koala bears in their natural habitat at the Koala conservation centre. Get
your adrenaline pumping by go-karting on a 760m scale replica of the Phillip
Island Motorcyle Grand Prix Circuit or take a Hot Lap lightning ride around the
real track with an experienced racing driver. Learn how to catch rainbow trout
at Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm and take-in the endless views from The
Nobbies headland. Get lost in a world of optical illusions and puzzles at A
Maze ‘N’ Things or watch chocolate being made at Phillip Island Chocolate
Getting there: You can take the two hour drive from Melbourne to Phillip Island or
get on the V/Line bus which runs between Southern Cross Station in Melbourne
and Cowes on Phillip Island. There is also a passenger ferry which travels from
Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula to Cowes.
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About the Author
Victoria Brewood is the face behind Pommie Travels, a site offering tips and inspiration for people wanting to take the plunge and travel the world. Originally from Manchester, Victoria packed her journalism degree in her suitcase and left the UK to explore the world and work remotely. She has backpacked extensively around Australia from the ocean to the outback and everywhere in between. Victoria also filmed her road trip around South Australia for World Nomads' Van-tastic Adventures. You can find Pommie Travels on Facebook and Twitter.
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