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5 Australian islands you need to see in your lifetime

For those looking for a real off-the-beaten-path experience, look beyond mainland Australia and even beyond Tasmania – Australia is resplendent with beautiful smaller islands that are well worth your exploration. We select five of our favourites…


KING ISLAND (Tasmania)

King Island, located in the Bass Strait about 80km off the coast of north-west Tasmania, is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history and mouth-watering culinary delights for travellers looking to get off the beaten path.

This hidden gem features breathtaking landscapes with rugged cliffs, pristine beaches and lush green pastures. It’s also a foodie’s delight, renowned for world-class dairy produce, tasty seafood and succulent beef. Don’t miss Wild Harvest, voted Australia’s number one fine dining restaurant by TripAdvisor, Travellers’ Choice in 2022.

The island also boasts fascinating historical sites, including the Cape Wickham Lighthouse and the King Island Museum. And if you’re a golfer, you’ll want to give Cape Wickham Links and Ocean Dunes Golf Course, ranked No.3 and No.13 respectively in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Australian Golf Courses for 2022-23.

Finally, don't miss the opportunity to explore the island’s abundant wildlife, such as seals, penguins and a plethora of bird species. King Island promises an unforgettable travel experience.

King Island Tours offers a 4-day 3-night King Island Experience tour that allows you to take in the island’s fauna, flora, history and finest fresh produce with your own local guide and hostess on board. Their 4WD coach will take you in air-conditioned comfort with great viewing windows to explore the 196km of coastline and everything in between. Visit the King Island Tours website for more information.

LORD HOWE ISLAND (New South Wales) 

Lord Howe Island is a pristine paradise that offers an idyllic escape for those who venture there. Located 600km off the NSW coastline, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed island mesmerises visitors with its unspoiled beauty and tranquility. Think crystal-clear waters, lush forests, towering mountains and pristine beaches with numerous hiking trails and opportunities for exploration.

Explore the island’s walking trails, including the challenging 875-metre Mount Gower Climb, rated as one of the best day treks in the world. Snorkel the calm waters of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park lagoon, home to an astounding 500 species of fish and 90 species of coral.

And if you’re into birdwatching, there’s something for you year-round, with 14 species of sea birds breeding there in the hundreds of thousands including red-tailed tropicbirds, shearwaters, providence petrels, sooty terns and more.

KANGAROO ISLAND (South Australia)

Situated just a 45-minute ferry ride from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is a captivating destination offering a unique and diverse experience for travellers.

Get up close with the island’s wildlife – think tammar wallabies, koalas, long-nosed fur seals and, of course, kangaroos. Visit the Flinders Chase National park with its rugged beauty, including the iconic Remarkable Rocks and majestic Admirals Arch, where the aforementioned long-nosed fur seals come to play.

And don’t miss the opportunity to learn about the island’s rich heritage: at Kingscote, visit South Australia’s first European settlement at Reeves Point, and find the famous Mulberry Tree that was planted when the town was established. Enjoy the views from Flagstaff Hill and check out Hope Cottage Museum with its fascinating insight into the island’s history. And depending where you are on the island, witness any of its three famous lighthouses: Cape Willoughby (east), Cape Borda (north-west) and Cape Du Couedic (south-west). 

TIWI ISLANDS (Bathurst and Melville Island, Northern Territory)

Okay, Bathurst and Melville are technically two islands, but generally combined into the overarching name of The Tiwi Islands. They're also affectionately known as the “Islands of Smiles” and offer a rich destination just a 2.5 ferry ride away from Darwin. This idyllic getaway is cherished for its warm and welcoming locals, passion for AFL, untouched beaches and vibrant Indigenous heritage and art scene.

The Tiwi Islands Retreat, situated off the coast of Bathurst Island, beckons with its private, beachfront resort offering hotel-like accommodations or the option to enjoy glamping. Delight in the picturesque shores of Rainbow Beach, where pastel pinks create a dreamlike setting for picnics and sunset viewing.

For art enthusiasts, Jilamara Arts on Melville Island showcases masterpieces crafted with natural ochres, while Munupi Arts & Crafts and Tiwi Design captivate visitors with their extraordinary works.

Or embark on a Tiwi by Design day tour for an in-depth exploration of the islands’ artistic treasures and cultural wonders, including a traditional Welcome to Country featuring a smoking ceremony and totem dances, and participation in a screen printing workshop where you can take home an authentic Tiwi print as a cherished memento.

K’GARI (Queensland)

K’gari (Fraser Island), the largest sand island in the world, is located off the coast of Queensland, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a nature lover's paradise. Explore its pristine white sandy beaches and swim in the breathtakingly beautiful Lake McKenzie and Lake Wabby. Marvel at the coloured sand cliffs known as The Pinnacles, a natural phenomenon formed by layers of minerals. And immerse yourself in the lush rainforests that grow on the island’s sand dunes – the only island in the world where you can witness such a thing.

For wildlife lovers, encounter wild dingoes, go whale watching, and spot an array of bird species that call the island home. And discover the rusting wreck of the SS Maheno, a famous landmark that adds a touch of mystery to the island's landscape.

Fraser Island offers an incredible blend of natural wonders, adventure, and relaxation, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and explorers alike.