5 Must-Visit Australian Islands

Fun fact: there are 8,222 Australian islands.

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 confusion of the people around me.

But I digress. Here are 5 must-visit Australian islands, which I certainly believe are worth getting on a boat for:

Rottnest Island

Beach and turquoise ocean

Getting there

At just 19 kilometres away, Rottnest Island is a 45 minute ferry ride off the coast of Perth, Western Australia. Take the Rottnest Express ferry from B-Shed in Fremantle, which is an easy stroll from the train station.

Pelican sat on lamp post on jetty

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 11 kilometres long and 4.5 kilometres 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.

Rottnest Island beach and bicycle

Getting around

This is one of the few Australian islands where people don’t use cars. 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.

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

Australia Kangaroo Island beach

Getting there

Kangaroo Island is a 45 minute stint across the Backstairs Passage, off the coast of South Australia. Kangaroo Island SeaLink departs from Cape Jervis, which is roughly a 2 hour drive from Adelaide.

The island

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island and at 155 kilometres long and up to 55 kilometres wide, it isn’t the kind of place you want to take a mere 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 and 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.

Sea cave

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, Things You’ll Love About Kangaroo Island for more inspiration.

Photo credit: Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

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!

For more information, check out the Kangaroo Island Tourism website.

Bruny Island

Tasmania Bruny Island Lookout
Photo Credit: Discover Tasmania

Getting there

You can reach Bruny Island by driving 40 minutes south of Hobart, Tasmania to Kettering. The Bruny Island Ferry is a vehicular ferry which departs from Kettering and takes just 15 minutes.

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 100 kilometres.

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 is home to some beautifully secluded beaches and is renowned for its fresh produce, including oysters, cheese and even chocolate.

Australia Bruny Island

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.

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, visit the tourism website. Also, check out my blog posts; Walks in Tasmania – Tried and Tested and 30 INCREDIBLE Things to Do in Tasmania.

Magnetic Island

Australia Magnetic Island

Getting there

Magnetic Island has the fastest journey time of all the Australian islands mentioned in this post. It can be reached with a 20 minute ride aboard the SeaLink Queensland ferry. It’s 8 kilometres from the coastal city, Townsville, Queensland.

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.

Koala mum and baby in tree

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.

For further reading, try Magnetic Island Tourism.

The Whitsundays

Australia Whitsunday Island Whitehaven

Getting there

The Whitsundays is located amidst the Great Barrier Reef. The 74 wondrous islands are accessible from Airlie Beach in Queensland. 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.

The island(s)

With Thundercat, I visited one of the most famous Australian islands, Whitehaven Beach. It 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 for over 7 kilometres.

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

Colourful fish below the surface of the ocean

Getting around

You can get around the Whitsundays on sailing and boat trips, varying in length. There’s also fishing charters, rafting, safaris, jet skis, boat hire and scenic flights via seaplane or helicopter.

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

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