This article was written by Kate Flannery, a part-time Perthie sailor on her way to becoming a full-fledged captain on the Adriatic Sea. Her favorite routes are along Western Australia, but the islands of Oceania are alright, too.
To read more of her work, check out her section at www.highstylife.com!
You don’t need to go as far as a Hawaii, the Caribbean, or Northern seas in order to live through a real maritime adventure. Australian islands are amongst the most stunning locations in the world, and as such, it’s a shame not to drop by at least one (at least Tasmania, if you’re going for it) when you visit.
There are many means and itineraries you can stick to when exploring these islands. However, since they are all relatively untamed, the most value will come from visiting them in your own boat. In Australia without a boat? My goodness. Most of this continent’s transport is water based, and there are plenty of shipwrights around every corner to get you fitted with your own transport. Chartering is also an option; you can strike a deal with a local liveaboard, or a tour operator.
What could be more interesting than navigating on the open sea like a modern day Magellan, or- to be more historically/geographically correct- Captain Cook? Wind in your hair, and nothing but a clear blue sky or a silent dome filled with stars above you until you reach some wild Australian island paradise. They say that everything has already been discovered (even Mariana Trench) but that little hard fact is not enough to stop you from feeling adventurous!
You could start your maritime quest by exploring the world’s largest sand island. Fraser Island is famous for its beauty as well for its clear, freshwater lakes, truly a perfect spot for rest and relaxation. That is, until you get the idea of renting a 4×4, and cruising the sand dunes in a different style! The island is predominantly inhabited by dingos and turtles, and it is a great place to spot humpback whales. You could even volunteer to protect tiny baby turtles from being eaten as they make the run of their lives, from nest to ocean.
You can find an entirely different form of relaxation on Hamilton Island, one of the most famous islands in the Whitsundays group (all of the Whitsundays are beautiful, some are wild, some are tame. Do not feel biased towards Hamilton merely because we are discussing it in more detail). Hamilton is the location of one of Australia’s poshest hotels – the qualia, a place so dandy and out of this world they don’t even need to capitalize their name. Hamilton Island is ideal for fishing, swimming, and mingling with Australia’s crème de la crème. It is also a humpback whale sighting station.
While you’re in the Coral Sea, specifically the Whitsundays, head on forth to Lizard Island. This is one of the most alluring locations near the Great Barrier Reef. There are two major things to do here: The first is to visit the Lizard Island National Park (it is remote enough to have an entirely different flora and fauna than the mainland). The second is to go diving. Lizard Island is one of the hottest diving spots of the Great Barrier Reef, a divers’ mecca itself. Its distance makes it too hard to reach for some, and that exclusivity is what maintains a perfectly intact coral, and a vastly colorful marine eco system.
One of the world’s most famous islands (thanks, Taz the Tasmanian Devil). It is surrounded by a group of 300 smaller islands. Tasmania provides a perfect opportunity for diving, swimming, and exploring old shipwrecks. Its beautiful marinas give off a vintage, time-travelling feeling, but fear not, all the perks of 21st century tourism are to be found as well. Unlike the other islands on this list, Tasmania is south of Australia, and surrounded by the Tasman Sea. It is quite different to the rest of the continent and its wildlife experiences.
Lord Howe Island
This bird watcher’s paradise is also located in the Tasman Sea, halfway between Australia and New Zealand. The island is vastly inhabited by endemic species. The island is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and can only take up to 400 tourists at a time, to preserve its natural beauty. Popular activities on the largely intact island include bird watching, kitesurfing, diving, and kayaking, and the easiest way to get from one destination to another is by bicycle. Needless to say, this is a great place to head to if you’re the athletic type, or have a family history of camping.