AMAZING AUSTRALIAN ISLANDS TO VISIT

An island with islands, Australia has over 8000 islands so it’s a challenge to narrow it down to a short list of amazing Australian islands to visit. There’s no attempt to claim the best of the islands, but rather showcase each of these islands for their uniqueness, and why each of them is deserving of the title of ‘an Amazing Australian Island,’ and importantly worthy of a visit.

 

Fraser Island, Queensland

Fraser Island, without any doubt she whole heartedly deserves to be named an amazing Australian island. It is the world’s largest sand island that stretches as far as 120 kilometres. Planning a stay is the best way to gain a true sense of all her beauties and unique Aussie character.

As a sand island, tripping around her shores or across the island are best done with a 4WD vehicle; and joining a 4WD tour is even better; taking advantage of the local guide island knowledge.

There’s a number of must see’s and do’s when you visit Fraser Island.

  • Visit the Maheno shipwreck, on the shores of the island.
  • From July to November book onto a whale watching cruise
  • Drive to Lake McKenzie – an island lake filed with crystal clear rainwater and lined by an incredible white sand beach.
  • Take a dip in Eli Creek
  • Visit the Champagne Pools
  • See pretty Lake Birrabeen and the pretty sands of The Pinnacels
  • Take a drive in a 4WD along the beach 

There’s options to camp, stay at one of the island hotels or book units or lodge accommodation and Kingfisher Bay Resort is the islands’ 4 star offer. Check out the solos only Fraser Island Walk, which also includes a 4WD adventure and a stay at the Kingfisher Bay Resort exploring all the best of this incredible sandy island.

 

Mckenzie Lake, Fraser Island
Mckenzie Lake, Fraser Island
Champagne Pools Encounter Travel
Visit the Champagne Pools, Fraser Island with Encounter Travel

Bruny Island, Tasmania

Within easy reach by ferry from the Apple Isle’s capital Hobart, Bruny Island is off the coast of Tasmania and is a magnificent day trip or place for a stay. This is no tiny island; her highlights are across 363 square kilometres and the island is home to around 600 residents.

So why does this Tassie highlight deserve to be in the line up of amazing Australian islands? She has gained a reputation for a foodie’s haven, stunning vistas, and boasts national park land for incredible wilderness experiences. The big and foremost view that most visitors include on a visit is the one from Truganini Lookout – a 360-degree views of the island and the Neck of the island. For nature lovers there’s a bounty of discoveries including strolling along a deserted beach and the chance to spot the rare white wallabies. For foodies, you’ll want to be seeking out the Bruny Island's cheese, oysters, fudge, honey, wine and whisky to savour their produce and hear the stories behind the harvest.  Sparked an interest? You can join our Bruny Island visit as part of our Tassie’s East solos only small group tour.

 

The Neck, Bruny Island
The Neck, Bruny Island
White Wallaby, Bruny Island
The White Wallaby, Bruny Island

Cockatoo Island, Sydney, New South Wales

I highly recommend every Sydney local (and also visitors to Sydney) pay a visit to this one of a kind island, smack bang in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

My first visit was with a group of solo travellers we organised that included our own guided group tour that showed us around the island and share the island’s history, along with some of it’s rather grim past. The cultural history of Cockatoo Island starts with the First Nations Eora people before colonisation, then from the times of colonisation serving as a penal establishment from 1839.  A visit with a guide will give you insights into some of its cruel past during the penal establishment years, the maritime industry and navy dockyard era, and about the reform school for girls (a part of the more grim history).

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a super easy ferry ride from Circular Quay or the inner West. In more recent years the island focusses on tourism and leisure and there’s also the option to stay overnight including at the island’s campground and a ‘glamping,’ experience. There’s also the featured event, The Biennale of Sydney. Any season, this is a fabulous visit for a few hours or more to explore at your leisure including the option to relax at the café or restaurant venue, or take one of the many tours; the Haunted House History Tour, Audio Tour, Ghostyard – A Paranormal Tour and more. Visit the Cockatoo Island website and check out what to do and events.  Image: Courtesy of Weekend Notes

Cockatoo Island Tour
A guided tour on Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island Haunted Tour
Haunted History Tour, Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island Guide Tour Encounter Travel
Guide Tour of Cockatoo Island
Summer Weekend Bar, Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island Guide Tour Encounter Travel
Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour

Norfolk Island

This is a stand out island when it comes to unique! It is just 34.6 square kilometres but for its small size it packs a punch when it comes to things to do and see. Plus, it’s sup tropical location makes for a pleasant stay throughout the year.

It’s impressive how this small community of just over 2,000 people has developed craft industry and so many fabulous tourist excursions. There’s something for everyone; garden visits, bushwalks, outdoor fish fry, culture and convict tours, progressive dinner at homes of the locals with storytelling, the local theatre company and so much more.  The island is famous because it’s home to descendants of the Bounty mutineers, and it’s has a remarkable convict history that should play a part of your discoveries when you visit. Be sure to dedicate at least half day at Kingston, the old settlement from these times; with the old convict gaol.

You’ll be charmed by the friendly locals; drivers give a wave to each driver they pass, and I even got a wave from a driver when I was walking by the road. There’s plenty of places to stay but the popular places can book out early.  Shopping on the island is like the years gone by in Australia; retail shops are closed on Sundays, and a good number of shops close on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. You can buy duty free goods on Norfolk Island (but if bringing them back to Australia the Australian duty free concessions will apply), goods and services tax (gst) doesn’t apply to transactions, wine prices are considerably less than drinking in bars in our Australian capital cities

There are direct flights from Sydney (2h 25min) and Brisbane (2h 10 min) but with a twist.  It’s a domestic flight that departs from the international airport. Many travellers are curious as to how that works – passport or not? So, you don’t have to use your passport but need official photo identification such as a driver’s license, but a passport is preferred by authorities.  When you enter immigration instead of using the e-gates, you take the queue for a customs officer to check your documents. Then carry on as usual.

Norfolk Island will pleasantly surprise you. Experience it for yourself. Join our Treasures of Norfolk Island Solos Only Tour.

 

Lone Pine, Norfolk Island
Lone Pine, Norfolk Island
Kingston, Norfolk Island
Pines of Norfolk Island
Pines of Norfolk Island
Solo Travel Tour Norfolk
Solos Only Tour, Norfolk Island

Daydream Island, The Whitsundays, Queensland

A tropical oasis loved by many, over many decades. For me, it’s very sentimental as it was our first ever Encounter Travel group holiday back in 2006, and also my first ever island visit in the Whitsunday’s as a nineteen year old taking a mammoth road trip from Sydney to the Whitsundays. 

In 2019 this little gem reopened after a major facelift and fills the void for a solid 4 star island hotel with all the trimmings of a resort stay in The Whitsundays. It’s one of the seven islands of the Molle Group of islands in The Whitsundays and just 1 kilometre stretch. You won’t find it hard to relax and pass the time on the island plus it’s well located to take a trip to the beautiful Whitehaven Beach of The Whitsundays. With it’s fresh new look the island made some welcome additions including their casual dining by the water at Inkstone Kitchen & Bar, and their pop-up end of day bar at Lover’s Cove. The Living Reef is the resorts unique creation; it wraps 200 metres around the main building with baby stingray, lots of fish species and an underwater observatory.

There are some big drawcards when it comes to taking a resort break and choosing Daydream Island. Firstly, if you’re living in Australia it is easy to reach;  direct flights from major capital cities to either Hamilton Island, then a short ferry ride to the island and this option is the best pick. Otherwise fly to The Whitsundays Coast Airport at Proserpine then transfer by road to Airlie Beach to meet a ferry to Daydream Island. This option is not as convenient, but it is ideal if you’d like some time back on the mainland at Airlie Beach.

Join our getaway. Daydream Island Escape Solos Only.

Ferry to Daydream Island
Arriving to Daydream Island, The Whitsundays
Oceanview Room, Daydream Island
Oceanview Room, Daydream Island
Lover's Cove, Daydream Island
Pop up bar, Lover's Cove

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

With the recent devastating summer 2020 bushfires across Australia, Kangaroo Island featured due to much loss of its stunning Australian bush landscape and the drastic impact on the koala population. The island is now thankfully in recovery and regeneration. Now more than ever a visit to Kangaroo Island plays a vital role in the island’s recovery.

Renowned for its incredible landmark rock formation, The Remarkables - this sighting will leave you impressed.  This island also plays host to a diverse range of excursions and sightseeing outings. Any visit should include a stop at Kelly Caves for some underground exploring, and a visit to Seal Bay for a walk down the boardwalk to see the seals basking on the beach. And as a larger island of 145 kilometres in length staying more than just a day will make sure you get the most of your visit with a relaxed pace to visit the western side of Kangaroo Island. This includes The Remarkables, the historic lighthouse, Admirals Arch, Flinders Chase National Park and it’s home to the long-nosed fur seal colony. The craft industry on the island is also a highlight and features the local honey from the Ligurian bees (best honey I’ve ever tried) and island wineries.

Like to explore the best of the island with a three night stay? Join our Kangaroo Island with Barossa Valley Solos Only tour.

 

The Lighhouse, Kangaroo Island
The Lighthouse, Kangaroo Island
The Remarkables
The Remarkables, Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island
Beautiful beach, Kangaroo Island

Horn Island, Torres Strait, Queensland

Not only is it located in one of Australia’s most remote regions, but it can also lay claim to being reached from the most northern point of Australia. Horn Island is part of the Torres Strait Islands, reached by ferry from Cape York Peninsula. It is just 17 kilometres off Queensland's coast and some of the neighbouring islands include Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Island.

Horn Island is steeped in the Australian World War II history due to attacks forged by the Japanese with air raids on this tiny island of just 53 square kilometres, and these days a population of around 650 people.  The local industry is centred around pearling, fishing and also some tourism. Horn Island is the only gateway by air to the Torres Strait Islands with a two hour flight from Cairns, making it usually the start or the finish of a visit to the Torres Strait islands.

Horn Island is an amazing Australian island destination for the more adventurous traveller. Visiting Horn Island doesn’t have to be a stand alone island visit.  It is part of the Torres Strait Archipelago that is made up of at least 274 islands but of all these islands, there’s only a small number permitting visitors.  Exploring this region uncovers a fascinating history and culture including the blend of Melanesian and Australian Aboriginal culture, and beautiful scenery.

Liking the idea of some unique and different travels? Join the Cape York and Torres Strait Island Tour which includes an overnight Horn Island stay. 

 

 

Horn Island
Horn Island, Torres Strait
Horn Island, Torres Strait
Horn Island, Torres Strait
Wildlife Horn Island
Wildlife Horn Island

Phillip Island, Victoria

Famous for it’s penguins and known by motorsport fans for the Australian Superbike Championships, there’s a whole lot more on offer with a visit to this island.

Around a two hour drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is worthy of an overnight stay or longer. She’s not too small and not too big – 101 square kilometres and 26 kilometres long by 9 kilometres wide. Any visitor can find something they enjoy. Of course, most first-time visitors or going to make a plan to see the penguins waddle along the beach. Then there’s a whole host of things to do including food and wine experiences, wildlife viewing (seals and koalas included), touring and scenic flights. For the foodies you may like to hone in on a few of the island breweries and island wineries and lots of choice for good dining. Find out more about the island, Visit Philip Island.

Penguins Phillip Island
Penguins of Phillip Island
Phillip Island beach view
Beach view, Phillip Island
Seals of Phillip Island
Seals of Phillip Island

Cocos Keeling Islands

I’ve not been to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands but I wanted to include it as it’s recently gained my attention and it’s on my radar as a ‘hopefully I can visit someday’ island. If you are seeking out lower impact tourism and a distinct island culture like no other this could give you some new ideas.

 

Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean you can reach this island paradise with a flight from Perth (4h, 35 mins). The island has Malay roots while an external territory of Australia, and part of South East Asia. I’ve enjoyed reading about the island and loved seeing some incredible images and why I think the Cocos Islands deserves to be on the list of Amazing Australian Islands. Read more about Cocos Islands

 

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About the author

Justine Waddington

Justine Waddington is the founder and director of Encounter Travel, a company that creates holiday groups exclusively for solo travellers. As a solo traveller with 60 countries under her belt and 14 years of leading travel groups, Justine is in the unique position of being able to offer tips and advice from the perspective of an experienced solo traveller and also that of a travel agent.

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