A forest-clad koala paradise and castaway nirvanas: Spectacular island escapes in


Australia is a world unto itself – and one that harbours worlds within worlds, breathtaking islands with beaches covered in flour-soft sand, exotic wildlife and landscapes that time forgot.

Here we present some of the most enticing of Australia’s island escapes, with the list including the inimitable Whitsundays, car-free Maria Island, the castaway nirvana that is Lord Howe Island and the koala paradise of Raymond Island.

Scroll down for more on these wanderlust-inducing treasures.

Which one would you most like to visit? 

THE WHITSUNDAYS – QUEENSLAND

Daydream Island (immediately above) is one of 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays, which are scattered across the Great Barrier Reef

Daydream Island (immediately above) is one of 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays, which are scattered across the Great Barrier Reef

The Whitsundays, 34 miles (55km) off the coast of Queensland, comprise of 74 paradisiacal sandy islands scattered across the centre of the Great Barrier Reef, with Hamilton, Hayman (images three and four) and Daydream (image five) – and the award-winning Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island (top two images) – just some of the highlights.

It’s trip-of-a-lifetime territory.

Australia.com says: ‘The proximity to the Great Barrier Reef means the Whitsundays are a mecca for sailing, diving and snorkelling, and there are plenty of opportunities to tick off some bucket-list worthy activities like swimming with turtles or flying over famous Heart Reef.’

For more further information visit www.queensland.com.

LORD HOWE ISLAND – NEW SOUTH WALES 

Lord Howe Island serves up a slice of castaway nirvana, with a marine park that's home to 450 species of fish and pristine beaches. Above is the infinity pool at Capella Lodge, which offers the best views of the island

Lord Howe Island serves up a slice of castaway nirvana, with a marine park that’s home to 450 species of fish and pristine beaches. Above is the infinity pool at Capella Lodge, which offers the best views of the island

Seven million years ago, Lord Howe Island was a huge shield volcano.

Today, it’s a six-mile- (10km) long paradise for the 400 visitors allowed to stay at any one time.

Lying 700km (435 miles) north-east of Sydney, it serves up a slice of castaway nirvana, with a marine park that’s home to 450 species of fish and 90 species of coral and pristine beaches.

Stay at Capella Lodge for the best views of the island, offered up from the infinity pool.

RAYMOND ISLAND – VICTORIA 

Raymond Island is billed as a 'forest-clad paradise' that's home to a huge population of koalas

Raymond Island is billed as a ‘forest-clad paradise’ that’s home to a huge population of koalas

Everybody loves Raymond Island, which lies 300km (190 miles) east of Melbourne in the Gippsland region, and is described by Visitgippsland.com as a ‘forest-clad paradise’.

Visitors are likely to spot koalas there – the 3.7-mile- (two-kilometre) long island supports a huge population of the iconic marsupial – along with kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and parrots.

The island is easily reached from Paynesville via a five-minute ferry ride, which is free for pedestrians and cyclists.

After disembarking, passengers can take a signposted 1.2km ‘koala walk’. Accommodation on the island is available – www.gippslandlakesescapes.com.au/gippsland-accommodation.

GABO ISLAND – VICTORIA 

Gabo Island is 'one of the most unique and spectacular islands to visit in Australia', according to one Tripadvisor user

Gabo Island is ‘one of the most unique and spectacular islands to visit in Australia’, according to one Tripadvisor user

Located 500 metres off the pristine coast of Croajingolong National Park in Eastern Victoria, remote Gabo Island is small, at just 2.4km (1.5 miles) long and 0.8km wide, but it packs a punch.

Visitors can explore the 19th-century Gabo Island Lighthouse, which at 47 metres (154ft) in height is the second-tallest lighthouse in Australia, and ‘ramble over the island’s pink granite shoreline and rock pools… or relax on the sandy beach’, suggests Parks Victoria.

Premium wildlife-spotting opportunities, meanwhile, will be in abundance – the island is home to 21,000 pairs of breeding penguins and 20,000 pairs of white-faced storm petrels. Visitors should also keep their eyes peeled for passing whales, dolphins and seals.

While the island makes for a great day trip, it’s also possible to stay there – in the historic assistant lighthouse keepers cottage, which can accommodate up to eight guests.

The island has garnered gushing praise from Tripadvisor users, with ‘Runtoseetheworld‘ describing it as ‘one of the most unique and spectacular islands to visit in Australia’. 

A handful of charter boat businesses 14km (8.6 miles) away in Mallacoota offer transfers to and from the island, while a small airstrip means arriving by light aircraft is also possible.

TROUBRIDGE ISLAND, YORKE PENINSULA – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Troubridge Island is described by the Troubridge Island Escape website as a place 'where time stands still'. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons

Troubridge Island is described by the Troubridge Island Escape website as a place ‘where time stands still’. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons 

Stunning Troubridge Island – home to a 24.7m- (81ft) high 19th-century lighthouse – lies off the coast of the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, west of Adelaide and a 15-minute boat ride from Edithburgh.

It’s described by the Troubridge Island Escape website as a place ‘where time stands still’. 

And what to do there while the clocks are stopped? Laze on the white-sand beaches, watch the colony of penguins and the resident black-faced cormorants and crested terns, hang out in the heritage-listed lighthouse cottages that can be your home for a few nights and generally soak up the castaway vibes.

Accommodation prices start at $1,144AUD (£617$772US).

KING ISLAND – TASMANIA

Pictured above is the stunning Cape Wickham golf course on King Island, which is billed as 'another world'

Pictured above is the stunning Cape Wickham golf course on King Island, which is billed as ‘another world’ 

King Island lies 80km (49 miles) north-west of Tasmania and is, according to kingisland.org.au, ‘another world’, a veritable smorgasbord of ‘iconic golf courses, boutique lodges and art exhibits’.

The website adds: ‘When visiting, please remember: a wave from the steering wheel to every approaching vehicle is mandatory, the hotel concierge and the airport baggage handler are the same person, and we do have traffic lights… but only on Wednesdays. Life here on King Island is just a little bit more… life.’

Discover Tasmania notes a few other highlights – hiking into the Calcified Forest, surfing on Martha Lavinia Beach and tucking into cheese from King Island Dairy. 

MARIA ISLAND – TASMANIA

Maria Island is a wildlife-rich utopia that's home to Tasmanian devils and kangaroos. Plus, there are gorgeous beaches and amazing patterned cliffs

Maria Island is a wildlife-rich utopia that’s home to Tasmanian devils and kangaroos. Plus, there are gorgeous beaches and amazing patterned cliffs

Step onto car-free Maria Island, six kilometres (3.7 miles) off Tasmania’s east coast, and you enter a wildlife haven, where Tasmanian devils, Forester kangaroos and rare Cape Barren geese roam, says Discover Tasmania.

The site adds that there are also World Heritage-listed convict-era sites, cliffs with swirling sandstone patterns and the 711m-tall (2,332ft) Mount Maria to conquer.

Lower-altitude activities include guided walks, cycling, snorkelling and lazing on crescent-shaped beaches.

There are no shops on the island, a designated national park, but it is possible to stay there – there are campsites and basic accommodation is available in an old penitentiary.

TIWI ISLANDS – NORTHERN TERRITORY

Most of the residents on the Tiwi Islands are of Aboriginal descent and you’ll meet some of them on cultural and wildlife tours

Most of the residents on the Tiwi Islands are of Aboriginal descent and you’ll meet some of them on cultural and wildlife tours

The Tiwi Islands, or the ‘Island of Smiles’, comprise two main islands – Bathurst and Melville, which are 80km (49 miles) north of Darwin.

Most of the residents are of Aboriginal descent and you’ll meet some of them on cultural and wildlife tours, says northernterritory.com.

It adds: ‘The people on Tiwi Islands are famous for their traditional lifestyle, stunning artworks, vibrant fabrics and textiles, plus an exuberant passion for football.’



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