Islands Around Australia: Paradise on our Doorstep

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.

ANZ MayI 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.

IslandNot 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.

Look into the distanceI’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.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • will newman May 8, 2013, 4:15 pm | Link

    Hi Bob, I’ve recently returned from a trip from Hamilton island to take in the wonders of the Reef. The two hour cruise was great, and the staff all treated us with great care and courtesy. Once at the Pontoon, we were able to go scuba-diving and snorkelling, which enabled us to take in an array of gorgeously coloured fish, which sadly I lack the skill to identify. Whilst there were the odd patches of the most exquisitely coloured reef, most of it was as grey as George Osborne in a mud-bath.
    One guide explained this away by saying that it was actually very bright, but just appeared dull because of the lack of sunlight. Strange that not all of the coral and none of the fish were affected in this way, I thought. Another suggested that we could remedy this by purchasing some tinted goggles to wear underwater. We have since discussed this with many Aussies who all seem to agree that there is a problem, and which they blame on pollution, mining, global warming, and even non-English speaking tourists dropping their litter into the sea.
    I am sure that you could recommend better spots from which to view the Reef, but this was a very expensive disappointment for us; and I do wish that more was said about this, so visitors know what to expect. What’s more, if this is how this particular part of the Reef has been damaged by mankind, shouldn’t we all resist the urge and stay well clear?
    Will

    • BobinOz May 8, 2013, 9:47 pm | Link

      I’m afraid it’s sad but very much a fact of life that pollution is pretty much everywhere, and if you were to search Google for “great barrier reef pollution” you will find more information than you can shake a stick at!

      I couldn’t tell you where the best spot would be to view the reef, but it doesn’t sound as though it was the place you went to. Maybe somebody else will see this and give us an idea, if there is one, of somewhere that hasn’t been subject to as much pollution.

      Over time, word-of-mouth from people like yourself who have been and have been disappointed will surely reduce the number of visitors, but it won’t bring the Coral Reef back to how it was.

      Bob

  • james June 24, 2012, 6:02 pm | Link

    how long did your flight last and do youhave to pre -book ?
    also right thats enough good news just feel sorry for us soggy brits over hear

    • BobinOz July 12, 2012, 4:18 pm | Link

      Sorry James, only just noticed this. You’d better sit down for this, make yourself a cup of tea. Our flight lasted for….

      Drumroll….

      6 minutes! Yes, we did have to book.

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