#1: Idyllic island – Norfolk Island “We have the cleanest, most beautiful waters, bountiful fresh fish, pristine forests, our food tastes better and you’re never more than five minutes from home. You can’t beat our lifestyle,” says Norfolk Island resident Emily Ryves, who along with her husband Zach Sanders established an artisan goat’s cheese farm, The Hilli Goat, overlooking Anson Bay on Norfolk Island. “It’s not just convict ruins here or old people on buses. There’s a raw energy to Norfolk; it’s not static or boring.” This creative buzz is evident at the regular farmers’ market, where locals sell their island-reared produce, and in the development of new industries: the island now has its own winery, as well as local charcuterie (Robyn Tavener taught herself the skill), cheesemakers, coffee beans and a whole lot more. And the best way to see it all? Hire a cute Mini Moke, grab a map and get going!
#2: Idyllic island – Rottnest Island, Western Australia Sitting just off the coast from Perth, Rottnest Island is a protected nature reserve that offers up pristine waters and natural beauty by the bucket-load. Activities range from snorkelling to walking to surfing (try Strickland Bay), and a few more besides, but the things everyone visiting the island wants to know about, and see up close, are the quokkas. So, here are a few fast facts to wow your fellow ferry passengers with when you’re next there:
- The island got its name when Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh dubbed it ‘Rotte Nest’ or ‘rat’s nest’ thinking quokkas were rodents.
- They are in fact small macropods, belonging to the kangaroo and wallaby family.
- There are between 10,000 to 12,000 quokkas on Rottnest Island; they breed in late summer, have a gestation period of just 27 days and produce one joey per pregnancy.
- They are crazy cute!
#3: Idyllic island – Kangaroo Island, South Australia “Kangaroo Island is nature’s paradise, a zoo without fences, and the best place in Australia to see nature in its natural habitat! We have stunning scenery, rugged coastlines and a surprise around every corner. And we’re also fast becoming known as a hot spot for foodies, with wineries, a gin distillery, breweries, sheep dairies, amazing oysters and seafood, and great places to eat it all.” So says Kangaroo Island Odyssey guide, Nikki Redman; Kangaroo Island Odysseys
#4: Idyllic island – Bruny Island, Tasmania If it’s good food you are after, you’re heading in the right direction taking the 20-minute car ferry across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel from Kettering to Bruny Island (a near neighbour of Satellite Island). Bruny Island berry farm: The kids will love the pick-your-own option here; brunyislandberryfarm.com.au Bruny Island cheese co.: Nick Haddow uses both cow’s and goat’s milk to make its range of cheeses, using environmentally sustainable farming practices to produce the best milk – and cheese – possible; brunyislandcheese.com.au Get shucked Oyster farm: A locally owned operation farming oysters in the clear Tasmanian waters; getshucked.com.au Bruny Island House of Whisky: Head here for a range of single-malt Tasmanian whiskies; tasmanianhouseofwhisky.com.au
#5: Idyllic island – Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory All you need to know about the Tiwi Islands...
- The islands are nicknamed the Island of Smiles, reason enough to spend time there.
- The Tiwi Islands are made up of two islands, Bathurst and Melville Islands, which are located 80 kilometres north of Darwin.
- The Tiwi people are rightly famous for their art; visit Bathurst Island for the annual art sale in March to meet the artists and buy works, and then watch the footy Grand Final. The sale takes place at the Tiwi Design Art Centre, with additional arts and crafts from Jilamara Arts and Crafts and Munupi Arts and Crafts from Melville Island, beginning at 9am and concluding when the footy starts at 1pm.
- Tours led by an Indigenous guide are the best way to explore the diverse landscape of tropical rainforest cliffs, white sand beaches, dense jungle and idyllic rock pools.
#6: Idyllic island – Lizard Island, Queensland The northernmost resort on the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island was named by Captain James Cook when he was navigating the waters here and came ashore to find an island crawling with goannas. The reptiles now share the island, which is over 240 kilometres from Cairns, with an indulgently luxurious resort of 40 suites and villas. From there, guests have the run of 24 private sandy beaches, as well as the aquatic wonderland of the reef. Apart from that, it’s all hanging out on sun lounges soaking up the rays and looking out to an infinite horizon.
#7: Idyllic island – Satellite Island, Tasmania Happened upon accidentally by French explorer Bruni D’Entrecasteaux back in 1792, Satellite Island became a private island, bought to farm salmon and sheep (and as a creative outlet for the new owner to paint and write poetry). When the owner’s nephew Will acquired the island, and the house he’d built on a hill, he and his wife set about opening it to visitors as a private escape. The humble house is now a stylish three-bedroom affair named The Summer House, and guests can indulge in the remote beauty of the island by hunkering down and doing nothing at all, or pulling on a pair of gumboots and exploring exquisitely named spots like Dreamy Bay, Last Glimpse Point and Morning Light Bay.
#8: Idyllic island – Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia Consisting of 122 islands stretching across 100 kilometres of Indian Ocean off the coast of WA, the Houtman Abrolhos Islands are clustered into three main groups: the Wallabi Group, Easter Group and Pelsaert Group. The reefs that proliferate here are rich with sealife, while the islands harbour large breeding colonies of seabirds and sea lions. But while their remote location encourages life, it also takes it away: many ships have been wrecked on the reefs here over the centuries, the most notable being the Batavia in 1629. The ship came to a tragic end on Morning Reef in the Wallabi group, and the story of the survivors making it to land only to turn on each other is famous. It is possible to dive the wreck site but it’s only for experienced divers. Charter cruises running from three to nine days are available out of Geraldton if you really want to immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of these largely undiscovered gems.
#9: Idyllic island – Haggerstone Island, Queensland Situated on the Great Barrier Reef, Haggerstone Island is a private haven that indulges your fantasies of being stranded on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere. A labour of love of Roy and Anna Turner, the couple have spent the last 30 years creating a luxury resort constructed from raw, earthy materials, many scavenged from the island itself. The result is a uniquely individual offering of lodges that melt seamlessly into the lush tropical surrounds. The Swiss Family Robinson aesthetic reaches it zenith in the main lodge, with heavy beams, a high thatched roof, and flickering candle light illuminating the pitch-dark nights. Being cast away never looked so good.
#10: Idyllic island – Thursday Islands The Torres Strait Islands are the stuff of mythology for most Australians, largely because many will only dream of visiting them in their lifetime. Scattered like confetti in the waters of the Torres Strait between Cape York and Papua New Guinea (there are some 274 islands in total), for those who do make the journey, the reward is experiencing an area that is rich in culture and beauty. The sense of time moving at a different speed is something to embrace here; Thursday Island represents the thriving heart of the Torres Strait, but don’t expect this to come with hustle and bustle. Tour the historic sites on the island – Green Hill Fort and its tunnels that now house the Torres Strait Historical Museum, and don’t even think of leaving without seeing the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. And take a boat ride to neighbouring Friday Island.