Want to treat yourself to an island experience like no other? Indulge in naturally luxurious surrounds while spotting turtles, penguins, koalas and sea lions, enjoy stunningly fresh produce or go snorkelling in paradise.
By Katrina Lobley
Redefine your concept of luxury on one of these Australian islands. Rent the house of Sir Richard Branson, dive into a sparkling blue swimming pool straight from your tropical island suite or order up a romantic beachside dégustation dinner for two.
Makepeace Island, Noosa, Queensland
Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has homes all over the world, including a Balinese-themed one tucked into the backwaters of Queensland’s Noosa River. Heart-shaped Makepeace Island is Branson’s Australian home – and it can be rented in its entirety for up to 20 people at a time.
Bedarra Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Bedarra Island, 140 kilometres (86 miles) from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, is all about barefoot luxury. With just nine villas secluded in rainforest, this island is a lush sanctuary you can imagine is (almost) yours alone. Organise a candlelit dinner for two on your own beach or pack a picnic into a rowboat and make for the nearest deserted island.
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Kangaroo Island, off South Australia's coast, is known as Australia’s Galapagos. Besides animals such as Australian sea lions, little penguins and koalas, KI (as it’s called) is also home to another stunning attraction. Southern Ocean Lodge, which curves along windswept cliffs, is so luxe you might not leave to explore the rest of the island at all.
Lord Howe Island, New South Wales
Switch off on Lord Howe, an island lying 600 kilometres (372 miles) from Sydney. There’s no mobile phone reception but plenty to do, from snorkelling the lagoon's calm waters to hand feeding fish and conquering Mount Gower (an all-day hike). Check in to Capella Lodge, Arajilla Retreat or Pinetrees Lodge.
Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Queensland’s most northerly tropical resort is Lizard Island. The only way to reach the island and its 24 glittering beaches is by charter plane from Cairns. With just 40 suites, it’s entirely possible to picnic on your own beach or to snaffle one of two beachside marquees for a private seven-course degustation dinner with matching wines.
Haggerstone Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
With just four huts channelling a rustic luxury vibe, far-flung Haggerstone Island is as close to a castaway experience as you can get in Australia while still enjoying creature comforts. The property, near the tip of Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, is the handiwork of the Turner family who you will get to know during your stay.
Bremer Island, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
Learn more about the culture of indigenous Australians at Bremer Island, within the traditional East Arnhem Land area of the Northern Territory. The island’s Banubanu Wilderness Retreat offers beachfront eco-tents and private cabins for up to a dozen guests. Follow the lead of local Yolngu men hunting for fish and crabs, or learn from the women how to weave a basket.
Norfolk Island is closer to New Zealand than Australia and boasts a unique culture. Islanders speak English but visitors may hear them chat to each other in a mix of Tahitian and Old English inherited from descendants of HMS Bounty who resettled here from Pitcairn Island in the 19th century. Stay in The Tin Sheds – a trio of luxury apartments – or the Cumberland Resort's White House with panoramic ocean views.
Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Take a 2.5 hour boat ride from Gladstone or a seaplane to reach Heron Island, a stunning coral cay in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. The island has excellent snorkelling but its main attraction is turtles and guests in the Beachside Suites can gather outside their rooms to see hatchlings scurry to the water.
King Island, Tasmania
King Island's slogan – “clean, green, serene” – sums up the delights of this rural idyll anchored in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and Victoria. Base yourself at Portside Links, apartments built on a former golf course, while taste-testing the island’s world famous cheese, crayfish and abalone.
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