5 Australian Islands Worth Getting on a Boat For

For those of you who know me, you’ll be familiar with my dislike of boat journeys by now. The thing is, I love boats and I love the sea, they just don’t like me so much. Just the faintest of motion and I’m distributing my lunch across the ocean.

Don’t get me wrong, I never let this small setback hinder my experiences; I let the anti-sickness tablets do that for me instead. Usually by knocking me out cold for 20 minutes, much to the dismay of the people around me.

Apparently, Australia has 8,222 islands. This would cost me approximately $2,373 in motion sickness medicine; so with that in mind, here are my top 5:

Rottnest Island

Location: Just a 45 minute ferry ride (19km) off the coast of Perth, Western Australia.

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The boat: Rottnest Express ferry from B-Shed in Fremantle (an easy stroll from the train station).

Puking potential: 5/10 – the water is fairly choppy but this is counteracted by the speed of the ferry, which is relatively quick. I sat outside for maximum fresh air intake and strangely enjoyed myself

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The island: Rottnest Island is a rather quirky place. The vibe is relaxed and casual, the scenery is unspoilt and the wildlife is abundant – you will be dodging quokkas like tiny furry bullets. At just 11km long and 4.5km wide, the island is tailored to those wishing to explore its nooks and crannies, pristine beaches and sparkling waters, thanks to a fantastic network of tracks and trails.

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Activities and attractions: Bike hire, snorkelling, tours, museums and galleries, day spas, fishing, seals and quokkas just to name a few!

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Getting around: There are no cars on the island. The done thing, which I couldn’t recommend enough, is to rent a bike (or bring your own) and cycle everywhere. If that sounds like too much work, then there is also a hop on/hop off bus service available.

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Accommodation: There are ample places to stay on the island to suit any budget, including camping grounds, a backpacker hostel, holiday cabins, hotels, chalets and self contained cottages.

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Although just a mere pinprick when compared to the sheer size of Australia overall, Rottnest Island is larger than you will probably anticipate, so I would recommend a minimum of two nights here. For more information, click here.

Kangaroo Island

Location: A 45 minute stint across the Backstairs Passage, off the coast of South Australia.

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The boat: Kangaroo Island SeaLink, departing from Cape Jervis, which is roughly a 2 hour drive from Adelaide.

Puking potential: 8/10 – I took 4 trips on this ferry in total and on my last journey, not even the pills could save me. If the wind is strong, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

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The island: Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island and at 155km long and up to 55km wide, it isn’t the kind of place you want to take a day trip to. The island is teeming with wildlife; you won’t need to travel very far before you see kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, seals, sea lions, eagles, marine life. It is brimming with natural beauty, from the wild and rugged coastlines, eucalyptus forests, hidden beaches, fascinating rock formations, caves and peaceful, rolling green hills and farmland.

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There is also a great deal of rich history to the island, from Aboriginal origins to the old lighthouses, which still stand proud today. It is heaven for the avid foodie and produces some of Australia’s finest fresh seafood, honey, alcohol and cheese. I loved Kangaroo Island so much, I actually lived there for three and a half months whilst I did my farm work. Read my post; 23 Things You’ll Love About Kangaroo Island | South Australia, for more insights.

Activities and attractions: Hiking, wildlife encounters, sandboarding, quad-biking, kayaking, tours; the possibilities are endless!

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Getting around: Kangaroo Island is big and public transport is virtually non-existent. If you aren’t part of a tour or have some form of transport organised through your accommodation, then you will need to hire a car. Just be aware that there are a number of unsealed roads on the island, so check the terms and conditions with the hire company before you go pelting it down any dirt tracks!

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Accommodation: Resorts, retreats, B&B’s, backpacker accommodation, self catered and campgrounds.

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For more information, check out Tourism Kangaroo Island.

Bruny Island

Location: Bruny Island is can be reached by driving 40 minutes south of Hobart, Tasmania.

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The boat: The Bruny Island Ferry is a vehicular ferry which departs from Kettering and takes just 15 minutes.

Puking potential: 3/10 – the trip is wonderfully quick and smooth.

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The island: Bruny Island compromises of a North and South island, separated by a narrow strip of land known as ‘The Neck’. Again, like the previous two islands, it is deceptively large and stretches for approximately 100km. As you drive from North to South, you’ll notice the grassland landscape slowly give way to patches of rainforest and mountains, with a smattering of townships in between. Bruny has some beautifully secluded beaches and is renowned for its fresh produce, including oysters, cheese and even chocolate. I visited the island twice, you can read more about my first trip here.

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Activities and attractions: Penguin spotting, hiking, cruises, self-guided tours, gourmet trails.

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Getting around: You will need a car. A self-guided tour is most definitely the best way to see the island and means you can take your time and explore every nook and cranny. Just be aware that like Kangaroo Island, there are a number of unsealed roads to negotiate.

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Accommodation: Staying on Bruny is not particularly cheap. The most common option is to stay in one of the many self contained holiday homes and cottages, which range from rustic to luxury. There is also a campground and caravan park for those on a budget.

For more information, click here.

Magnetic Island

Location: 8km off the coastal city, Townsville, Queensland.

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The boat: A 20 minute ride aboard the SeaLink Queensland ferry.

Puking potential: 6/10 – once you leave the safety of the harbour and hit the open sea, though brief, it is fairly bouncy.

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The island: Often referred to as ‘Maggie’, Magnetic Island’s 5,184 hectares is made up of eucalyptus forest, granite boulders, unspoilt beaches and turquoise waters, all centred around Mount Cook. The island has an abundance of wildlife, diverse walking tracks and  breath taking lookouts, as well as an interesting military history, with fascinating fort ruins to be explored.

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Activities and attractions: An enormous list, including diving, snorkelling, water sports and excursions, hiking, shopping and restaurants, horse riding and fishing.

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Getting around: The more inhabited side of the island has a public bus route, however if you wish to explore the more rural parts, you will need your own vehicle. There are plenty of car hire shops on the island. Again, a great deal of roads are unsealed.

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Accommodation: Luxury resorts, backpacker hostels, B&B’s, self contained holiday units, camping, holiday home rental.

For further reading, try Magnetic Island Tourism.

The Whitsundays

Location: Located amidst the Great Barrier Reef itself, the Whitsundays forms 74 wondrous islands and can be accessed from the town, Airlie Beach, Queensland.

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The boat: There are countless tour companies offering different packages for every budget and time frame. I went on a day cruise with Thundercat and couldn’t recommend them highly enough.

Puking potential: 2/10 – Thudercat is specifically designed for those unfortunate enough to suffer with seasickness. It is fast yet incredibly stable, so I felt great all day!

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The island(s): With Thundercat, I visited the famous Whitehaven Beach, which is as real and as jaw dropping as the photographs lead you to believe. Whitehaven Beach is the largest of all the islands and the pure, pristine sands stretch over 7km. At the northern end of the beach is Hill Inlet Lookout, offering quite possibly the most beautiful view in the world. Whilst here, I paddled with lemon sharks, crabs and sting rays.

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From there, I sailed to Manta Ray Bay just off Hook Island for a spot of snorkelling and then onto Langford Sandbar.

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Activities and attractions: All manner of tours, snorkelling, diving, marine life, national parks, historical and heritage sites.

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Getting around: Sailing and boat trips of varied length, fishing charters, rafting, safaris, jet skis, boat hire, scenic flights via seaplane or helicopter.

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Accommodation: A smorgasbord of resort types including luxury, spas, bungalows and apartments, self contained, caravan and camping, backpacker and fully equipped boats.

Everything you need to know can be found on the Tourism Whitsundays website.

Now go forth, pop a few travel pills if needs be and enjoy the ride!

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