As the weather warms up, my thoughts always turn to my next holiday. And right now, an island getaway is top of my list.
Here are 10 of the best island escapes in Australia. You might not be able to visit them all at the moment, but they are still fantastic options for the future.
1. Kangaroo Island
It doesn’t take long to realise that Kangaroo Island is remarkable for many more reasons than its iconic remarkable rocks.
It’s larger than you imagine looking at a map – taking an hour and a half to drive from Penneshaw on the eastern coast to Flinders Chase in the west.
The natural attractions are outstanding – there’s geological wonders, breathtaking vistas and an impressive array of wildlife.
Even the bees are remarkable – believed to be the only remaining purebred Ligurian bees in the world.
If that’s not enough to tempt you, discover 5 Reasons to visit Kangaroo Island.
2. Lord Howe Island
As far as bucket list destinations go, Lord Howe Island is a worthy contender. The pictures always seem to be out of this world, a tropical oasis towering above the crystal blue Pacific Ocean.
David Attenborough described Lord Howe Island as “"so extraordinary it is almost unbelievable... few islands, surely, can be so accessible, so remarkable, yet so unspoilt."
And yet, it’s only a 2-hour flight from Brisbane. What are you waiting for?
Find out more about the natural paradise that is Lord Howe Island.
3. Whitsunday Islands
Why visit one island, when you could take your pick of seventy four?
You can fly direct to Hamilton Island a choose to stay there for a few days or a week.
And of course, a visit to Whitehaven Beach is a must-do, as is a flight over Heart Reef if your budget allows.
4. Fitzroy Island
Queensland is spoilt for choice when it comes to tropical islands, with the Great Barrier Reef stretching along its coastline.
But when it comes to tropical North Queensland, I have a personal soft spot for Fitzroy Island, where you can explore the rainforest by foot or snorkel in the warm waters and watch the colourful reef life.
One of my favourite things is to visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. There are also coral nurseries, which are an important step in restoration of the reef.
Any list of amazing Australian islands would be incomplete without Tasmania.
I reckon many Australians are secretly planning a southern sea change to the apple isle where they can become a gourmet farmer like Matthew Evans. Or is that just me?
Tasmania is a fantastic option for outdoor adventures, from gentle to extremely challenging.
And it's also an ideal destination for foodies. Whether it’s a scallop pie, crispy apples, delectable dairy or a seafood safari, you’ll find something to suit your palate.
6. Rottnest Island
What could be better than an island with cute and friendly quokkas?
Whilst it may be the iconic marsupials that give this destination it’s claim to fame, Rottnest Island itself is a majestic gem of sandy white beaches surrounded by glistening blue seas.
One of those stunning places that you will not easily forget.
Just a short ferry ride from Perth or Fremantle, this island proves that Western Australia can more than hold its own in the idyllic island stakes.
7. Magnetic Island
Back in Queensland, a little way off the coast of Townsville you will find another beautiful tropical island, featuring large swathes of national park, plentiful native wildlife and secluded bays framed by giant granite boulders and swaying palm trees. Known as Yunbenun by the traditional owners, Magnetic Island was given its English name by Captain James Cook as he travelled up the east coast in 1770.
Yes, the beaches are amazing. What might surprise you is the amazing bush walking, including the Forts Walk which takes you up the hill side to the historic WWII fortifications, offering 360 degree views from the top.
8. Fraser Island
Closer to Brisbane, the World Heritage listed Fraser Island (K’gari) is the world’s largest sand island.
And boy does it have some of the prettiest sand you’ll ever see. As well as mesmerising forests, freshwater lakes and picture perfect views.
Throw in a couple of dingoes and a seasonal whale migration, and you’ve got yourself an amazing holiday.
In fact, I need to start planning my next trip to Fraser Island now. Check out 10 reasons to visit Fraser Island if you need more convincing.
9. Moreton Island
Further south, protecting the calm waters of Moreton Bay from the tumbling Pacific Ocean, is Moreton Island.
After a day of snorkelling in the shipwrecks or speeding down the sand dunes, enjoy the sunset over the water (a rare treat when you live on the east coast) as the dolphins frolic in the shallows.
A day of adventure at Tangalooma Island Resort is a rite of passage for Brisbane children, or even an extended camping trip on one of the many beaches in the National Park.
10. North Stradbroke Island
Last, but not least, is one of my all time favourite places to visit – North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah). Whether it’s a family camping trip, a girlie getaway or a romantic rendez-vous, there’s an option for you at Straddie.
The North Gorge walk never fails to deliver a veritable smorgasbord of sea life – not to eat, but to admire from afar.
Turtles, string rays, dolphins and whales… I’ve seen them all from that board walk. Keep your eyes peeled landside as well for more native wildlife in the form of the resident wallabies.
This walk deserves to be followed by an obligatory gelato as you sit atop the cliff and watch the surfers from on high. You’ll wonder how a place like this can be so close to a capital city.