Australian Island Escapes Within Arm’s Reach

30 August 2014

Glittering ocean, uncluttered beaches, apricot sunsets... there’s a reason why retreating to an island is an instant cure for frazzled nerves!

From the wildlife paradise of Kangaroo Island in South Australia to the relaxed island vibe of Rottnest in Western Australia, these holidays are low on flying time and high on bliss.
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Kangaroo Island

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 Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island

A 30-minute flight from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is a 155-kilometre expanse combining snow-white sand, sprawling bushland and cliffs overlooking the sea.

It is a crash course in the country’s most striking geography and the natural habitat of sea lions, kangaroos, koalas and echidnas, who wander the island happily oblivious to visitors.

Once you’re acquainted with the wildlife, make sure you swing by the island’s wineries and cellar doors. KI is famous for Mediterranean-style cheeses, crisp Sauvignon Blancs and freshly shucked oysters.
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Fraser Island

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 SS Maheno Shipwreck, Fraser Island

Known for oversized dunes formed by strong winds off the East Australian coast, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and attracted World Heritage status in 1992.

Here on Fraser, sparkling freshwater lakes and glossy rainforest make the perfect backdrop for fishing, kayaking or a morning walk set to a chorus of native birds.

If you’re an indoor type, head to Kingfisher Bay Resort, settle on a verandah, and eat sublime seafood overlooking Great Sandy Strait.
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Lord Howe Island

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 A school of King Fish, Lord Howe Island

The sparkling Lord Howe Island is surrounded by a coral reef home to an incredible array of marine life. Snorkelling and scuba diving encounters are easily available, along with accommodation ranging from rustic beach huts to high-wattage resorts.

There are plenty of activities for those averse to the deep sea. Pack your clubs and head to the Lord Howe Island Golf Club, where the greens are framed by Mount Gower, the Kentia Palm Forest and the ocean foreshore.

Alternatively, make your way downtown to Humpty Micks Cafe where you can order a latte, read a book and soak up the laidback island life.
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Rottnest Island

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 Stairs leading to the shore, Rottnest Island

The Dutch explorers who discovered Rottnest Island named the Western Australian getaway “rat’s nest” after the adorable quokka – a lovable marsupial that still remains the island’s mascot.

Rottnest is accessible via a two-hour ferry trip from Fremantle and features sheltered lagoons, flawless beaches and dizzying coastal trails - it’s the blueprint for an island paradise.

Hire a bike from Rottnest Island Pedal & Flipper and make for Thomson Bay where the secluded coastline hosts surf breaks, swimming spots and an 18th Century shipwreck.
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Magnetic Island

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 Townsville on the horizon, Magnetic Island

Eight kilometres from Townsville lies Magnetic Island, renowned for its 23 beaches and 300 days of sunshine. The area offers all pleasures of further-flung island holidays, minus the passport queues.

Base yourself in Arcadia – a sleepy coastal village where you can browse handmade jewellery at the local market. Make a date with a waterfall during wet season, or curl up on your porch and listen to the breeze rustling through the eucalyptus and native hoop pines.

Neha Kale

Neha Kale is a writer and editor covering arts, design and culture at large. For Neha, a one-way ticket to London sparked incurable wanderlust and a decade of memorable trips – from exploring street art in San Francisco and sailing down the Nile to mapping galleries in New York and getting lost in the backstreets of Paris.