Australia's ten best inland islands

Australia is blessed with thousands of magnificent islands. The likes of Rottnest, Hamilton and Fraser Islands are world famous, but you don't necessarily have to head to the coast for a bit of island time. Unsung in Australia's lakes and rivers are a host of inland islands that also have something to offer. Here are 10 of them that are worth your time…

Makepeace Island

Makepeace island

Photo: Supplied

Where? Noosa, Queensland

Owned by Richard Branson and Virgin Australia co-founder Brett Godfrey, this island in the Noosa River is designed as a private retreat for the seriously cashed-up. Access is via private boat, and despite the sprawling swimming pool and tennis courts, efforts have been made to keep the island as green and natural as possible. The closest most will get, however, is going past on a boat tour up the Noosa River. See makepeaceisland.com

Gunbower Island

Gunbower Island

Photo: Getty/Oliver Strewe

Where? Near Cohuna, Victoria

The biggest island in the Murray River brims with native forest, birdlife and inquisitive wallabies. Gunbower Island is sandwiched between the Murray River and Gunbower Creek, and has plenty of timber industry history lined up along the Gunbower Island Forest Drive. The real joy, however, is in pulling up at a campsite near one of the Murray River beaches and chilling out on the river for a few days. See parks.vic.gov.au

Ulupna Island

Ulupna Island

Photo: Parks Victoria/Facebook

Where? Near Strathmerton, Victoria

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Bumpy four wheel drive tracks cross Ulupna Island, but they lead to some magnificent camping spots on the bends of the Murray. Carters Beach is a longstanding favourite with the ludicrously over-equipped camping crew. Ulupna Island is also tremendous wildlife-spotting territory. Expect kangaroos on the ground, koalas in the trees and peregrine falcons in the air. See parks.vic.gov.au

Hindmarsh Island

Hindmarsh island
david whitley story on inland islands
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Photo: Graham Scheer/SATC

Where? Goolwa, South Australia

With mangroves, salt lakes and farm stay accommodation, Hindmarsh Island feels ripe for lazily mooching around. But it's the position near the mouth of the Murray River that makes Hindmarsh Island special. Either rock up to the lookout or – better still – take a kayaking tour around the Coorong lagoon system to joint the migratory birds and pelicans. See canoethecoorong.com

Ponyfish Island

Evans Walker Bridge, Southbank Ponyfish Island and Raymond Island
david whitley story on inland islands
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Photo: Josie Withers/Visit Victoria

Where? Melbourne, Victoria

Thousands of people walk over Ponyfish Island every day without realising it's there. This bar is built as an island around one of the supports of the pedestrian bridge connecting Melbourne CBD to the Southbank. It's currently revamping to give itself a Palm Springs vibe and increased capacity, but cocktails in the middle of the Yarra is an excellent gimmick. See ponyfishisland.com.au

Heirisson Island

heirisson island

Photo: Wikipedia

Where? Perth, Western Australia

Too often looked upon as a bridge support for crossing the Swan River between East Perth and Victoria Park, Heirisson Island offers a natural escape near the heart of the West Australian capital. Barbecues, a playground and short walking trails can be enjoyed in the middle of the river, although it's the handful of kangaroos living on Heirisson Island that tend to steal the show. See parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Raymond Island

Darren Donlen â Nature and Wildlife 2019 Ponyfish Island and Raymond Island
david whitley story on inland islands
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Photo: Darren Donlen/Visit Victoria

Where? Gippsland, Victoria

With a population of just over 500, and no bridge to the mainland, you really have to want to live on Raymond Island. It's connected to the mainland by a cable ferry from Paynesville, but the relative isolation in the Gippsland Lakes makes it a haven for koalas. If your idea of a good day out is walking through trees, looking up for sleepy marsupials, Raymond Island will probably feel quite heavenly. See raymondisland.net

Aspen Island

aspen island

Photo: Wikipedia

Where? Canberra

This small island in Lake Burley-Griffin is home to one of the largest musical instruments on earth. The National Carillon stands 50 metres tall, and has 57 bells inside. A gift from the United Kingdom, this giant bell tower pretty much has the island to itself and it's lit up beautifully at night. A small pedestrian bridge links it to Kings Park. Walk over to the island for fabulous views of the city. See nca.gov.au

Milson Island

Milsons island
david whitley story on inland islands
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Photo: Sport.nsw.gov.au

Where? Hawkesbury River, NSW

There are several islands in the Hawkesbury River, of which Dangar Island is the only one with a permanent residential population. But Milson Island, only accessible by boat, is the one that will bring back memories of school camps. This former quarantine station, venereal disease hospital and prison is now all action – with kayaking, abseiling and ropes courses on the long list of activities. It's run by the NSW Government Office of Sport for camps, corporate training, weddings and sporting events. See sport.nsw.gov.au

Tamar Island

Tamar island
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Photo: Parks Tasmania

Where? Launceston, Tasmania

North-west of Launceston, Tamar Island is the centrepiece in a series of mudflats and lagoons. Birds, naturally, love this, but rare frogs and skinks can also be found among the native grasses. The best way to explore is on the boardwalk, which crosses the island. The Tamar Island Wetlands interpretation centre should give you a helpful education on what you're looking for. See parks.tas.gov.au

 David Whitley has been a guest of Tourism Australia and the state tourism boards.

See also: Australia's 10 biggest inland cities you should visit (or avoid)

See also: The 10 most beautiful small towns in Australia you must visit

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