Top 5: Australian islands

Did you know there are more than 8,000 Aussie islands out there? But which gets our vote? We reveal five that have our seal of approval.

By Stephanie Cavagnaro
Published 11 Sept 2015, 09:00 BST, Updated 5 Jul 2021, 10:46 BST

01 Lizard Island, Queensland
The island's namesake resort reopened in August after a major overhaul with a nifty new wine cellar. But it's the location — adrift in the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef — turquoise lagoon and 24 white-sand beaches that ensure it's an all-round crowd-pleaser. 

02 Kangaroo Island, South Australia
For front row views of roos, there's no better place than this chunk of land near Adelaide. Explore bays, cliffs and nature reserves on the 40-mile, five-day Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, which opens next June, and discover its revolving cast of sea lions, birds, koalas and platypuses. 

03 Heron Island, Queensland
This coral cay on Heron Reef in the southern Great Barrier Reef is a top spot for snorkelling and scuba diving. From October-March, it's a nesting site for hundreds of green and loggerhead turtles, while in June whales can be spotted on route to sub-Antarctic waters. 

04 Cockatoo Island, New South Wales
History buffs will relish a nosy around this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sydney Harbour. It originated as a site of a penal establishment to alleviate overcrowding on Norfolk Island, and operated as a prison from 1839-69. Having opened to the public in 2007, there's a campsite for visitors with impressive views of Sydney. 

05 Phillip Island, Victoria
At dusk each day, a colony of the world's smallest penguins waddles up the beach to dune burrows. The Penguin Parade has become one of Australia's most popular wildlife spectacles, with viewing boardwalks for visitors. 

Published in the October 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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