As you probably know, each month I write an article for Australia and New Zealand magazine, available at a newsagent near you for just £3.99. That is, of course, as long as ‘you’ live in the UK.
But many of you don’t, and maybe some of those of you who do, don’t actually buy the magazine, even though it is jampacked with over 100 pages of yummy stuff.
That’s why each month I reprint my article about a month after it has appeared on the shelves. This article was in the May edition of the magazine.
It’s a scorcher, and with winter taking a grip here and no holiday in sight for me, even I’m going to get a little jealous reading this one. It’s called…
Islands in the sun.
I have spoken about holidays before, explaining that many Aussies holiday here in Australia. Well, we are a good deal more isolated from other countries than those of you living in Britain. But I did overlook some amazing holiday opportunities which I am only just realising; I am many things, slow is probably one of them.
Greece, with its 6,000 or so islands, may be known for its island hopping. But Australia has more islands, over 8,000 of them. You just can’t hop them so easily. Maybe I’ve been slow to catch on because Australia itself is one great big island, one huge wraparound beach. With beautiful beaches everywhere, why go to an island?
Then I went to an island; North Stradbroke Island.
Not hugely adventurous of me, as the crow flies it’s about 50 kilometres straight ahead from my front door. Stradbroke only has a handful of roads, but an abundance of natural wildlife, with rugged beaches and is a glimpse of how you would imagine life was in Australia 20 or 30 years ago. I liked it so much, I’ve been three or four times.
Then a while back, I got really adventurous. I went to Moreton Island, this one is further north. It’s still about an hours drive to the ferry, but where Stradbroke takes 50 minutes by boat, Moreton is 75.
Look at me, a right little Captain Cook!
Moreton Island is totally different from Straddie; this one has the feel of an island in the Pacific. Oh, it is.
I’m not usually one for hanging around on the beach all day, but Moreton Island has gone a long way to changing my mind about that. Wild dolphins; scuba-diving; quad biking; 4 wheel driving on the beach and messing around on boats. Later, sipping beers in the pub; listening to the waves and watching the sunset. Is this paradise?
Well that’s two islands covered, how many have we got left? Looks like I’ll have to miss out a few.
Further north is the World Heritage listed Fraser Island. It has no roads, is subtropical, has a rainforest, some 40 freshwater dune lakes and is the largest sand island in the whole wide world. And I’ve still only driven three hours or so from my house.
Drive even further north, say another six hours, and we’d find the Whitsundays, a group of around 70 or so islands. They are surrounded by something called the Great Barrier Reef. You may have heard of it?
You don’t have to live in Brisbane to be near an island though. Adelaide has Kangaroo Island; Perth has Rottnest Island; Melbourne has Phillip Island; and Sydney has a whole bunch of them scattered around the harbour. Hobart has Bruny Island, Darwin has Tiwi and Canberra hasn’t got any islands at all! But the other cities have many more, enough to make up for that.
You can even buy your own island! I found one for sale just off the Queensland coast: $8 million freehold. Nice house set on 23 acres, including helipad, pool and panoramic views. But it’s not for me. I’m not ready to settle down yet. I fancy getting into this island hopping lark, it may take a while to get round them all though.
Oh, unless I really did have a helicopter…
Which I don’t, of course. Just couldn’t resist replaying the video of my helicopter ride around Moreton Island.