5 fab island holidays to take close to home


Here are five family-friendly island holidays you should add to your must-visit places.

Olde worlde charm

Phillip Island, Victoria

Perennial family favourite Phillip Island in the Bass Strait, off the coast of Victoria, is a picturesque, heritage island that’s easily accessible from the mainland by road bridge, ferry or air. There is a plentiful choice of accommodation to suit your family – from cheap and cheerful camping and caravan parks, to higher-end hotel and resort accommodation – meaning you can make it suit your budget.

This location offers a magical blend of nature, wildlife and family fun that can entertain all ages and includes bush walks and bike rides, animal parks and mini golf attractions. Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is a must-do and the well-known after-dark Penguin Parade cannot be missed. With trout-fishing, working farms, beaches and a unique maze and puzzle park, this island is one of Australia’s little treasures.

Accommodation: Choices range from camping and YHA options, farm stays and holiday homes through to hotels and resorts.

Adventurers’ paradise

Tangalooma, Queensland

Forty kilometres off the Brisbane coast, Tangalooma Island Resort is packed with fun times for adventurous and nature-loving families. Water-based activities include snorkelling, banana boat rides and boat hire; nature lovers can hand-feed bottle-nose dolphins, go whale watching and take one of a range of guided ECO walks that include shipwrecks, birds, marine life and spotlight rambles. Throw in quad biking and desert safari tours and this island is ideal for families with older kids, or those with adventurous primary-school-aged nippers.

If you want to simply relax, you can do that here too with splendid white sand beaches around every bend and a huge selection of free activities that include the likes of tennis, badminton, board games, wildlife presentations and tours plus swimming in the resort pools or at the beach.

Accommodation: Ranges from resort units and holiday houses ($500 for 8 people for 6 nights in low season; around $730 in peak season) to beach-front apartments and luxury accommodation (at around $750 per person per night).

Quokka spotter

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

WA is blessed with numerous islands off the coast but you have to experience Rottnest at least once in your life. This 11-kilometre long Class A nature reserve takes just 2.5 hours to cycle around at a leisurely, child-friendly pace – and it’s a mere 25-minute ferry ride from Freemantle.

Bring your family here for a reminder that life doesn’t have to move at a 100k/ph. With 63 secluded beaches on this 1900-hectare island, think boating, surfing, swimming, diving, snorkelling and fishing – you can BYO or hire everything you need to enjoy these water-based activities. Family friendly walking tours and nature trails take you passed reefs and wrecks, or you can challenge the kids to spot resident quokkas, bottle-nose dolphins or whales, or take on other families in an Amazing Race-style team game. An old-style ‘picture house’ is a draw card as is the Putt Putt.

Accommodation: Choose to camp ($14 per adult, per night) or stay in the hostel, which offers family rooms, or push your budget to stay in the luxury six-bed Commander’s Cottage ($288 per night). This is another budget-friendly option that provides natural beauty and history in an outdoor, fun environment.

Roo rambling

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Take a ferry or a plane 110km off the coast of South Australia and you’ll arrive at the country’s third largest island – Kangaroo Island. Another island named for the animal that abounds on it, your family needs a couple of days to explore here. Baby in a sling, toddler in a backpack, tweens tramping at your side, Kangaroo Island has a host of flora, fauna (there are 18 native mammals here – including eight marsupials), shipwrecks, lagoons, reserves and surf beaches. Older children will also enjoy horse riding. These elements all combine to create a memorable ‘getaway’ holiday that even your youngest family member will enjoy. The three lighthouses, dating back to the mid-1800s and the early 1900s, dot the landscape, are fun to explore and each offers a different perspective from the land.

Accommodation: You can opt to stay in lighthouse cottages, bed and breakfasts or holiday homes – the latter of which is most suitable when you have children (as you can run your own schedule).

Island time

Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

Australia can offer just about every holiday you can imagine and the epitome of the relaxing, away-from-it-all island break has to be taken on Lord Howe Island, 660km off the North Coast of New South Wales.

A nature-lover’s paradise, this is a go-slow holiday for kids where it’s all about wildlife and enjoying what nature has to offer – in the sky, in the ocean, on the land. Older kids will love the sports activities such as surfing, sailing and kiteboarding; the littlies will enjoy spotting ‘comedy’ birds such as Masked boobies or Sooty terns, and tramping around the 11km island. If bush walking is your thing, this is another ‘baby on board’ vacation as some of the walks on offer are for serious hikers – although of course you can do as little or as much as you like. With golf, bowls, tennis and bike riding to complement what nature offers, your family will be kept busy and entertained.

Accommodation: Starts from around $55 per night (twin share).