Archive for October, 2010

Cockatoo Island, Sydney, New South Wales

Cockatoo Island is the largest island nestled in the Sydney Harbour, and offers stunning views of the city skyline.  The island is located at the joining of two rivers – the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers.

The island, which is a national heritage-listed island, was opened as a tourist destination just a few years ago, in 2005 with the Cockatoo Island 2005 Festival.

History

The island has a strong history – it was home to an old imperial prison, reformatory, gaol, and industrial school.

Maria Island, Tasmania

Maria Island mixes beautiful landscape and wildlife with a rich history.  Maria Island runs 20 kilometers by 13 kilometers, with the entire land-mass designated a National Park, and does not have a sizeable settlement – only park ranges reside on the island.

The island is located off the East coast of Tasmania, and is a break from the hustle and bustle – as the island has no automobiles or shops.

Visitors must remember to procure food supplies and clothing prior to arriving on the island.

Flinders Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania

Flinders Island is the largest island in the Furneaux Group of 52 islands (and the only island with a permanent settlement, of about 900 people). It is located along the Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from the mainland. Measuring 70 kilometers by 40 kilometers, Flinders Island has over 450 kilometers of road for visitors to use.

Flinders Island is located 20 kilometers off the north-eastern tip of Tasmania, Cape Portland.

The Furneaux Group was sighted by Tobias Furneaux in 1773, who was part of Captain Cook’s expedition, and then explored again in 1798 when Flinders and Bass circumnavigated Tasmania, proving it was an island.

Great Palm Island, Queensland

Known as Palm Island, Great Palm Island, or by its Aboriginal name “Bwgcolman,” this 64-square kilometer island is the largest in the Greater Palm group, and is located 65km north-west of Townsville in Queensland.

Palm Island was named by Captain Cook due to the cabbage tree palms growing on the island during his exploratory travels.

The Queensland government established an unofficial penal colony on the island, which operated for most of the 1900s but mostly during the 1940s and 1950s. An Aboriginal reserve was established on the island in the early 20th century.

Dunk Island, largest of the Family Islands

Dunk Island is situated just off the mainland cost from Mission Beach, south of Cairns, and within the Great Barrier Reef UNESCO World Heritage site.

Dunk Island is part of the Family Islands Group, which are known for their long spits of sand. Dunk Island is the “father” of the family – the largest, at six kilometers by two kilometers.

Three-quarters of the island is a National Park. Dunk Island’s shoreline and surrounding waters are designated a Marine Park.

The island is accessible for day trippers, but is more popular for extended stays at the island’s resort. The resort is one of Australia’s leading resorts.

Fitzroy Island, Queensland

Fitzroy Island is a continental island located within the UNESCO Great Barrier Reef World Heritage site. The island is a protected area – the Fitzroy Island National Park.

Fitzroy is known for its adventure activities and nightlife, offering an opportunity for budget travelers to experience all that the Great Barrier Reef has to offer.

History

The Gunghandji have gathered food, hunted, and held special ceremonies on the island for thousands of years.

Whitsunday Island, Whitsundays, Queensland

Uninhabited Whitsunday Island is well-known for the Whitsundays’ world-famous beach – Whitehaven beach.  Comprising fine powdery white sand with 98% pure silica content, and surrounded by warm clear turquoise water, the seven-kilometer beach is picturesque. Whitehaven beach is considered to be Australia’s “most beautiful beach” according to Keep Australia Beautiful (and Australia’s most photographed beach), and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Because of this, many folks consider Whitehaven beach to be a must-see attraction, and a large number of people visit the island – the largest of the Whitsunday grouping.

Tiwi Islands – Melville and Bathurst Islands

The Tiwi Islands are part of the “Top End” (the top part of the Northern Territory), located as they are 80km north of Darwin.

They comprise Melville and Bathurst Islands, and together cover 8,320 square kilometers. Melville is Australia’s largest island (except for the state of Tasmania), and Bathurst is Australia’s five-largest island.

The islands are known as the “islands of smiles,” due to the happy attitude of the approximately 2,500 residents who call the Tiwi Islands home. Over 90% are of the residents are indigenous, most of whom speak Tiwi as their first language.

Thursday Island, Torres Strait

Thursday Island is the administrative and commercial capital of the Torres Strait Islands, which total 23 islands.  The Thursday Island township is Australia’s most northern town.

Measuring just 3.5 square kilometers, the archipelago’s most developed island, endearingly called “TI”, is home to approximately 3,500 residents. Thursday Island’s residents are very diverse, including Malays, Chinese, Polynesian, and Japanese – who together outnumber European settlers.

History

Thursday Island has been inhabited for thousands of years by the Melanesian Torres Straight Islanders.  Their name for the island was Waiben, which is thought to translate to “place of no water,” due to the island’s lack of supply of fresh water.

the Mackerel Islands, Western Australia

The Mackerel Islands are famous destinations in Australia – for both diving and fishing. The islands, which receive over 300 days of sunshine a year, are very laid-back, casual, and quiet. The island environments are beautiful, with clean turquoise waters and pristine coral reefs.

The Mackerel Islands are located in Western Australia, in the Pilbara Coastal region. 10 islands make up the group, of which two have accommodation (Direction Island and Thevenard Island).

The bulk of tourists visit either Thevenard Island (which is a nature reserve) or Direction Island.