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Australia's Major Islands



Flinders Island, Tas



Surrounded by over 50 mostly uninhabited islands, more than 65 shipwrecks and with over 120 pristine beaches, Flinders Island is a great place for a relaxing, rejuvenating holiday, being set amid the tranquillity of one of Australia s idyllic natural settings. Not many people live there, and not many people go there, so this is the place to be if you don t want to share the stunning scenery around you with the rest of Australia.
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King Island, Tas



Located in Bass Strait, off the north-western tip of Tasmania, is about half way between Tasmania and Victoria. Tasmania's second largest island, it is notable for its cheese, lobsters, mineral water, kelp, beef, as a safe harbour for passing yachts and also as a wind farm site for Hydro Tasmania. The largest town is Currie, situated on the western side of the island. Grassy is known for the natural penguin rookeries near the (safe harbour) port.
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Maria Island, Tas



Maria Island is a unique location where the visitor feels they have left civilization behind and stepped into another world. There are no noisy cars or machinery, just the sound of the wind rustling in the trees and the occasional bird calling to another. The air is clean; the only smells that accost the nose are the perfumes of the plants in the bushland and the salt in the air, blown off the sea which surrounds you. The whole place is a treat for the senses, and an opportunity to experience something civilisation lost more than a century ago.
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Bruny Island, Tas



Across the D Entrecasteaux Channel a short drive south of Hobart, Bruny Island is effectively two quite different islands connected by a narrow neck of sand. With its wild seascapes and sweeping surf beaches, rich maritime history, abundant birdlife and wildlife, tall forests and historic lighthouse, Bruny is an island paradise in Australia's deep south. In terms of breathtaking majesty, few features on South Bruny Island compare to a series of sea caves found along its rocky coastline.
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Sarah Island, Tas



Sarah Island was the site of the first convict settlement in Tasmania, established in 1821 and has remained unoccupied and relatively undisturbed since it was finally abandoned as a penal settlement in 1847. With the advent of the popular cruises from Strahan to the Gordon River in the 1980's (some of which call in at Sarah Island), the island has become a popular tourist destination, primarily to view the ruins of the penal settlement.
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Kangaroo Island, SA



With its rugged, pristine coastline, Kangaroo Island is located off mainland South Australia not far from Victor Harbour on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The island's relatively unspoiled environment offers opportunities to see native animals in their natural environment, spectacular scenery, pristine beaches and a rugged, wave-swept Southern Ocean coastline. By contrast, the island's hinterland is a patchwork of green fields and tree-lined roads receding to the surrounding low hills, all of which is reminiscent of the English countryside.
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Rottnest Island, WA



Rottnest Island, a short distance off the coast near Perth, is a true island paradise. Apart from Island Board vehicles, there are no cars. You either walk or cycle - all of which are conducive towards everyone moving at a very leisurely pace. The island's small sheltered bays and coves, the white beaches and turquoise waters of the island's attractive coastline, all seem to beckon the visitor to stay a while and take in the sights. The island's semi-tame quaint marsupial residents, the Quokka, also get in on the act, popping out of the bushes as walkers approach their hideouts in the low scrub.
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  • Montgomery Reef, WA



    Montgomery Reef, to the south of Yawajaba Island in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, is subject to one of the most significant and unusual tidal movements in the world. It is an extraordinary panorama of vast lagoons, tiny sandstone islets and a central mangrove island - but only when the tide is out. As the tide falls right before your eyes, along a navigable channel running deep into the eastern reef, a stunning horizon of white water rapids is created. Suddenly, a loud, raging torrent of water erupts around you as Montgomery Reef appears to rise out of the ocean.
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    • Cockatoo Island, WA



      Dutch explorer Willem Vlaming sailed past it. Dampier never noticed it. Matthew Flinders didn't see it. 19th Century pearl fishermen knew about it. Ships once stopped there to load ore. Cockatoo Island, set among over 700 islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago, was for many years a giant iron ore mine operated by BHP. Cockatoo Island is one of thousands of islands that makes up the rich coastline of the West Kimberley.
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      • Dirk Hartog Island, WA



        Located on the extreme north west corner of Australia, Dirk Hartog Island is situated between Shark Bay and the Indian Ocean. Though an isolated location, it is a significance corner in Australia's history in that it was here that two Dutchmen left pewter plates recording of their visits in 1616 and 1696; two French explorers fell out in 1801 over the ethics of removing the plates and taking them back to France; and 29 years earlier another Frenchman had claimed the place for France, leaving a bottle recording the event.
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        • Phillip Island, Vic



          Named after Governor Arthur Phillip, Phillip Island forms a natural breakwater for the shallow waters of Western Port Bay. Part of the Bass Coast Shire, it is mainly a tourist destination. The island's history has seen shipwrecks and attempts to grow various specialty crops. The Penguin Parade (see little penguin) and Seal Rocks are the main tourist venues, with visitors from all over the world coming to see one of the few areas where this species of penguin can be seen. On New Year's Eve the island hosts the Pyramid Rock Festival.
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          • Rodondo Island, Vic



            A prominent pyramid lying well off the coast of Wilsons Promonotory, Rodondo Island is curiously part of Tasmania although it lies only 12 km off the Victorian coast. Like the other granite islands off the Promonotry, Rodondo Island is covered with countless granite boulders that rise steeply from the waves. Theese islands are sparsely vegetated, some have stunted trees but most of them lack even these, only salt resistant grasses struggling to survive in the harsh conditions. Yet some of these incredible islands were considered as a site for a lighthouse back in 1850's. The island was named by British explorer William Grant in December 1800 for its resemblance Rodondo Rock in the West Indies.
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            • Skull Rock, Vic



              Skull Rock, also known as Cleft Island, gains its name from a huge cave on one side giving the impression of a human skull. The southernmost part of the Australian mainland, Wilsons Promontory consists of rugged granite ranges, sloping headlands, coarse sandy coves and picturesque offshore islands. It is the northern-most exposed link in a chain of granite mountains that continues across Bass Strait and onto eastern Tasmania. Skull Rock is rarely visited as it has no safe landing place.
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              • Fraser Island, Qld



                Situated on the south-eastern coast of Queensland is located off the coast from Hervey Bay, 300 km north of Brisbane and 37 km east of Maryborough. The largest sand island in the world, it was inscribed on the World Heritage listing in 1992. The island has a wide variety of natural features including freshwater sand dune lakes, quiet streams, white beaches, rainforest, eucalypt forest, cliffs with remarkable coloured sand horizons and rugged headlands.
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                The Whitsundays, Qld



                If you are looking for a picture-perfect tropical paradise on the Australian mainland, the trendy hideaway township of Mission Beach fits the bill perfectly. Mission Beach, midway between Cairns and Townsville, could well appear on any postcard requiring a long sandy beach lined with palm trees. The impressive Dunk and Bedarra Islands sit off the coast just to make the picture even more perfect. Mission Beach is surrounded by a lush backdrop of World Heritage Listed wet tropical rainforest, endless white sandy beaches and the silvery shimmering blues of the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef.
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                Hinchinbrook Island, Qld



                With its lush rainforests, rugged, misty and heath-covered mountains, sweeping sandy beaches, rocky headlands, paperbark and palm wetlands, mangrove-fringed shores and extensive open forests and woodlands, Hinchinbrook Island National Park is one of the world s most outstanding island parks. Hinchinbrook, off the coast of north Queensland between Townsville and Cairns, is basically two large islands joined by a long sand isthmus which has developed so there is a narrow sandy beach facing south, then a few substantial dunes and a vast, impenetrable mangrove swamp cut by sinuous channels.
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                Magnetic Island, Qld



                Unlike most of Queensland's offshore islands, Magnetic Island is not a resort island, nor is it a coral island or part of the Great Barrier Reef, but a recreational island where both locals and visitors go to relax and unwind. Just offshore from Townsville in Cleveland Bay, Magnetic Island is well established as a holiday destination with many hotels and several resorts in operation to cater for all levels of service. The locals like it so much it has effectively become a suburb of Townsville, with over 2,000 permanent residents.
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                Thursday Island, Qld



                The administrative centre for the Torres Strait islands which have been part of Queensland since 1872, "T.I." as it is usually known, is just over three square km in area and 39km off the tip of Cape York. The strait's population of 25,000 live on more than 20 islands (around one tenth of these live on Thursday Island), and is engaged mostly in fishing, prawning and a declining pearling industry.
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                Resort Islands of North Queensland



                The tropical islands of the Coral Sea off the coast of north Queensland are home to numerous island resorts which in the post World war II era were the ultimate holiday destination for Australians. In spite of intense competition from cruise liners and Australia's neighbouring countries, most have survived and are well patronised by overseas visitors and Australian who want an overseas holiday experience without leaving home.
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                Cockatoo Island, NSW



                Steeped in colonial history, Norfolk Island is located in the Pacific Ocean between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia, and is one of Australia's external territories. The Norfolk Island pine, which is pictured on its flag, is a very striking evergreen tree endemic to the island and is quite popular in Australia, where two related species grow. Norfolk Island's history is interwoven with that of Pitcairn Island, the HMS Bounty mutineers, and with New South Wales in its formative years.
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                Bare Island, NSW



                The small island just inside the heads was described by Captain James Cook as a small bare island. It was never given a name, and so the notation on Cook s charts stayed as the means of identifaction of this small island at the head of Botany Bay. The island was fortified in 1885, according to a design by colonial architect, James Barnet (1827 1904), and fitted with heavy guns. In 1912 Bare Island became a retirement home for war veterans, which continued to operate until 1963.
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                Norfolk Island, NSW



                Steeped in colonial history, Norfolk Island is located in the Pacific Ocean between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia, and is one of Australia's external territories. The Norfolk Island pine, which is pictured on its flag, is a very striking evergreen tree endemic to the island and is quite popular in Australia, where two related species grow. Norfolk Island's history is interwoven with that of Pitcairn Island, the HMS Bounty mutineers, and with New South Wales in its formative years.
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                Ball's Pyramid, Lord Howe Island



                Ball's Pyramid is the erosional remnants of a shield volcano and caldera that formed about 7 million years ago. Ball's Pyramid is 20 km (13 miles) southeast of Lord Howe Island. It is 562 m high, while measuring only 200 m across. It is part of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park. The first successful climb to the summit was made on 14th February 1965.
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                • Lord Howe Island



                  Lord Howe Island is the erosional remnant of a 6.9 million-year old shield volcano. Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird (777 m) dominate the south end of the island. The island is 600 km east of the continent of Australia and near the boundary between the Lord Howe Rise and the Tasman Basin. The Lord Howe Rise is made of continental crust that was rafted eastward as volcanism at a mid-ocean ridge formed new seafloor and opened the Tasman Basin. Seafloor spreading was active from 80 to 60 million years ago. The Lord Howe seamount chain, defined by coral-capped guyots, continues to the north for 1000 km and is probably the result of the Australia plate moving northward over a stationary hot spot. The Tasman Basin is greater than 4,000 m deep.
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                  • Tiwi Islands, NT



                    Dubbed The Islands of Smiles because of the warm welcome offered to visitors, the Tiwi Islands are a short flight or cruise from Darwin, situated 80 kilometres to the north and acclaimed for their Aboriginal culture and warm hospitality. Dense rainforest, sandy beaches and rock pools combine to create the Tiwi Islands  coastal landscape. Travel to the islands includes a 20-minute flight in a light aircraft from Darwin, or a ferry across the Timor Sea on a ferry to Bathurst Island.
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                    • Groote Eylandt, NT



                      Groote Eylandt is unique place with a very diverse environment  pristine beaches, spring water swimming holes, open woodland, rainforest, red sand dunes, the aqua waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, rock art which is thousands of years old, fascinating Aboriginal culture and friendly locals. 50 km from east to west and 60 km north to south, it has no high mountain ranges; the highest point, Central Hill, is only 219m above sea level. The island is becoming renowned for its fine aboriginal rock art sites, arts and crafts and outstanding sport-fishing.
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                      • Christmas Island



                        Located in the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island is such a natural tropical paradise that 63% of it is National Park. Here visitors can walk through the rainforest, come face to face with some of the island's terrestrial crabs or spot one of the many species of rare and endemic birds. The island is surrounded by a fringing coral reef that is home to a myriad of colourful tropical fish that can be seen in only metres of water while a short distance away the reef plunges dramatically into an abyss. Dolphins circumnavigate the island & whalesharks visit there each year.
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                        • Heard Island



                          Heard Island, in the southern Indian Ocean, is the location of the only active volcano in Australian territory. With an area of about 160 square miles (400 sq km), the island is dominated by the magnificent Big Ben massif (2,745 metres), with the volcanically active Mawson Peak. About 85-90% of the island is covered by glaciers and permanent snow despite its relatively modest latitude of 53° S, a testament to the continual foul weather and heavy precipitation of the Southern Oceans. The volcano itself is extremely active, with a historical record of eruptions reaching back to the late 1800's. The main cone is topped by a broad plateau about 3 miles (5 km) across at about 7500 ft (2300 m), which is an eroded ice-filled caldera breached to the southwest, and the newer summit cone of Mawson Peak rises above this in the western part. A crater about 150 ft (50 m) in diameter is located atop Mawson Peak, and this was observed to have an active lava lake within it in 1986.
                          Photo: Bruce Hull, Australian Antarctic Division

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