Ferry good! 6 easy-to-reach Australian islands
By Peter Burchell
Dreaming of an island adventure?
Australia’s coastline is dotted with spectacular islands that make for boundless exploration, providing the feeling of being a world away from everyday life.*
And as you’ll soon discover, an island escape doesn’t have to be a drawn-out exercise.
We’ve compiled a list of gem-laden islands that can be reached with relative ease from the Australian mainland – via ferry and even by road.
It’s time to see paradise by the starboard light…
*Unless you already live on an island.
Explore abundant wildlife, fascinating historical remnants, and stunning scenery on Magnetic Island in QLD.
1. Magnetic Island, QLD
Planted within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, this little gem is bursting with charm. Variable landscapes create plenty of appeal: beautiful, secluded beaches, striking boulders, eucalypt woodlands, and pockets of rainforest can all be admired on a series of walking trails. Check out historical remnants covering themes of Indigenous culture and World War II or spot abundant bird life and wildlife, including koalas and rock wallabies.
Don’t miss: The Forts Walk, a 4km return trail that combines war history and sweeping views with fantastic koala-spotting opportunities.
How to get there: Regular ferry services depart from Townsville (passenger ferry 20min, vehicle ferry 40min).
Whether you're a surfer, an animal lover, or a foodie, you're sure to fall in love with Phillip Island in VIC.
2. Phillip Island, VIC
How much treasure can be stuffed into one island? Plenty it would seem. Sparkling beaches excite swimmers and surfers, walking tracks lead to funky rock formations, and family-friendly attractions include mazes, a chocolate factory, and trout farm. Thrilling wildlife encounters abound: spy penguins, seals, or koalas, or visit a heritage farm. Add to the mix boutique wineries and a brewery, museums and galleries, and a world-class motorsport track and you have an island with extensive appeal.
Don’t miss: A cruise to Seal Rocks where you can see fur seals up close and admire glorious coastal views.
How to get there: Phillip Island is a two-hour drive from Melbourne and is linked to the mainland by a bridge.
Visit when staying at…BIG4 Phillip Island Caravan Park.
Visit the world-famous quokkas while taking in the breathtaking surrounds of Rottnest Island in WA.
3. Rottnest Island, WA
A profusion of beaches that invite all sorts of water recreation, a series of free guided walking tours, and a cluster of engrossing historical attractions are among the many highlights of this Perth playground. Spot wildlife that’s led by the seriously cute quokkas, take a train ride, climb a lighthouse, cycle, or just relax while absorbing the breathtaking coastline. This is bliss.
Don’t miss: Did we mention those cute little quokkas?
How to get there: Regular ferries depart from three locations: Fremantle (25min), Hillarys Boat Harbour (north of Perth, 45min), or Perth (90min).
With its collection of white sand beaches, sprawling bushland, and relaxed vibe, Great Keppel Island in QLD is a great place to get away from it all.
4. Great Keppel Island, QLD
A collection of white sand beaches, ample opportunity for water-based leisure, prized lookouts, sprawling bushland, and a relaxed vibe all make this Great Barrier Reef island an alluring destination. Follow a walking track to witness magnificent views and spot a hefty assortment of bird life that calls Great Keppel home, alongside various wildlife and marine animals.
Don’t miss: Shelving Beach. Swim, snorkel, or simply relax at this beautiful spot.
How to get there: Regular ferries depart from Rosslyn Bay, Yeppoon (30min journey).
Fraser Island in QLD has World Heritage status and an astounding range of attractions, including beaches, lakes, cliffs, and even a shipwreck.
5. Fraser Island, QLD
World Heritage status. Glittering beaches. Shimmering lakes. Colourful cliffs. Towering rainforest. Shipwrecks. There is so much to love about Fraser Island. This is the largest sand island on the planet, covering well over 150,000ha, and offers an experience like nothing before it. Please note: vehicle access to Fraser Island is restricted to 4WDs and permits are required, but organised tours are available.
Don’t miss: The Maheno shipwreck, an icon of the island.
How to get there: Ferries depart three times daily from River Heads (20min drive from Hervey Bay; 30min crossing time).
With boutique wineries, tasty produce, and natural wonders like these Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island in SA is a must-visit destination.
6. Kangaroo Island, SA
A gob-smacking assortment of activities and attractions abound on Australia’s third-largest island. Glistening beaches that rank among the nation’s best, gripping wildlife encounters, incredible rock formations, caves, and sand dunes are among the many goodies. With other drawcards that include a thriving arts scene, boutique wineries, and tasty produce, this is a truly enticing holiday haven.
Don’t miss: A stop at Remarkable Rocks. Remarkable indeed.
How to get there: Ferries run three times a day from Cape Jervis (90min drive from Adelaide; 45min crossing time).
Reproduced with the permission of BIG4 Holiday Parks. This article first appeared on www.BIG4.com.au and was republished with permission.
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