An island holiday is the stuff of deliciously indulgent dreams. But you needn’t go all the way to the Bahamas to act out your fantasy. Australia has some of the best islands for getting away from it all, each with unique things to see and do. Here are four of the most quintessentially Aussie islands.
Phillip Island, Victoria
Phillip Island is like Dr Who’s TARDIS — it seems to have everything anyone could want from a holiday escape in one 26km long island — wildlife, adrenalin sports, adventure experiences, you name it. There are also spectacular wetlands, forests and beaches. Not to mention amazing bird watching, even for the uninitiated.
Of course the island is famous for its penguin parade at sunset. Where the adorable little tuxedo wearers waddle up the beach to the sand dunes. Then there’s the Koala Conservation Centre where you can observe these tree dwellers (sleeping most likely, since they do it 18 hours a day) from a treetop boardwalk.
Phillip Island is also synonymous with Australian motor racing. If you feel the need for speed, you can get behind the wheel of a go-kart on a replica track of the Grand Prix circuit. And if it rains? Head straight to the Tenpin Bowling & Entertainment Centre. There’s plenty to keep everyone amused including games, pool, table tennis and X-box live.
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Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Kangaroo Island is known for its pristine produce, as well as its scenic escapades. You could start off with a wildlife experience, such as the Birds of Prey talk featuring a wedge-tailed eagle and cute barnyard owl, or a tour of the Australian Sea Lion Conservation Park.
Make sure you also check out Vivonne Bay — evaluated as the best of 10,000 Australian beaches in a study by Sydney University — ideal for surfing, swimming and fossicking around the rockpools.
On the food front, you absolutely must try the local sheep’s milk cheese, Ligurian honey and freshwater marron (crayfish), washed down with tipples from the various cellar doors. And about 10% of the island’s population is involved in creating art that you can see on display at the Visual Arts Cultural Centre.
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Hamilton Island, Whitsundays
In the heart of the Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most adored and exciting islands. If you love action holidays, there are more than 60 activities to try at Hamilton Island [pictured]. You could sail a yacht to one of the other 73 Whitsunday Islands, play a round of golf, go scuba diving at the reef or quad bike through bush trails.
On the other hand, if you’re here to get away from the fast life, there’s always spa treatments, beauty makeovers and lazing around pools drinking cocktails.
Many travellers automatically assume Hamilton Island is beyond their budget. Not so. Tweet this! What we love about “Hammo” is that it’s not a one resort island (and all the trappings that come with it). There’s an actual town with a permanent population and plenty of accommodation options. And to keep costs down even further, we recommend self-catering by getting Coles Online delivered during your stay. Yep, that’s right, Coles Online flies to the island on weekdays and delivers direct to your door!
Bruny Island, Tasmania
White wallabies? No, we promise they’re not a cousin of the Bunyip. You’ll see them with your own eyes on Bruny Island, near Hobart.
Apart from rare wildlife, this Tassie gem is also a foodie favourite, with specialities such as handmade fudge, truffles, berries, fresh oysters and wine from Australia’s southern-most vineyard.
At nearly 100 kms long, Bruny Island is best seen via a coastline cruise and bushwalking through the tall forests to spectacular beaches. The landscape is so impressive that more than 40 local artists produce wood and glass, painting, printmaking, ceramics and jewellery for the island’s gallery.
Catch the ferry to Bruny Island from Kettering (approx. 35 mins south of Hobart). View our Bruny Island hotels here.