IDYL­LIC IS­LANDS

Beau­ti­ful off­shore re­treats.

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

HOUTMAN ABROL­HOS,WA

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.

THURS­DAY IS­LAND, QLD

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 (pic­tured below).

ROT­TNEST IS­LAND,WA

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!

KAN­GA­ROO IS­LAND, SA

“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; kan­ga­roois­landodysseys.com.au

LIZARD IS­LAND, QLD

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.

It’s all about hang­ing out on sun lounges soak­ing up the rays and look­ing out to an in­fi­nite hori­zon.

TIWI IS­LANDS, NT

All you need to know about the Tiwi Is­lands... are nick­named the Is­land of THE IS­LANDS Smiles, rea­son enough to spend time there. are made up of two is­lands, THE TIWI IS­LANDS Bathurst and Melville Is­lands, which are lo­cated 80 kilo­me­tres north of Dar­win. are rightly fa­mous for their THE TIWI PEO­PLE 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. are TOURS LED BY AN IN­DIGE­NOUS GUIDE the best way to ex­plore the di­verse land­scape of trop­i­cal rain­for­est cliffs, white sand beaches, dense jun­gle and idyl­lic rock pools.

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!

HAGGERSTONE IS­LAND, QLD

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.

BRUNY IS­LAND,TAS

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 #70, Satel­lite Is­land). The kids will love the BRUNY IS­LAND BERRY FARM pick-your-own op­tion here; brun­y­is­land­ber­ry­farm.com.au Nick Had­dow uses both BRUNY IS­LAND CHEESE CO. 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

A lo­cally owned oper­a­tion GET SHUCKED OYS­TER FARM farm­ing oys­ters in the clear Tas­ma­nian wa­ters; get­shucked.com.au

Head here for BRUNY IS­LAND HOUSE OF WHISKY a range of sin­gle-malt Tas­ma­nian whiskies; tas­ma­ni­an­house­ofwhisky.com.au

SATEL­LITE IS­LAND, TAS

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.

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