In a year when many places have been out of reach for most Australians, there are two islands named by readers of Conde Nast Traveler as the best in world, which are close enough, safe enough and, hopefully soon, will be taking visitors from the rest of Australia.
Tasmania has secured the No.1 spot in the magazine's prestigious annual readers' choice awards for its natural beauty and wilderness: "the spectacular pink granite mountains and stunning beaches on the island's eastern coast, and Cradle Mountain, part of the UNESCO-listed Tasmanian Wilderness, to the west."
A nod was given to MONA, Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art, known for its "provocative and controversial exhibitions" described as "interesting: but not for everyone".
The chief executive of Tourism Tasmania, John Fitzgerald, said the recognition by readers of Conde Nast Traveler was fantastic news, especially as Australia's state borders begin to open.
"Tasmania's compact nature, stunning world heritage wilderness and excellent food and wine are the perfect complement to its world-class hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, golf and surfing."
"Our borders are set to reopen to most jurisdictions from late October, so this recognition is timely for our tourism industry as it starts to recover from the impacts of COVID-19."
Taking the No.2 spot in The Best Islands in the World list is South Australia's Kangaroo Island, Australia's third-largest island with an area of 4405 square kilometres. It is known for its wilderness and native wildlife, including sea lions, echidnas, and naturally, kangaroos. The island made world-wide headlines during the 2019-20 Australian bushfires when almost half of the island was affected.
South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said Kangaroo Island, a major tourism icon of Australia, has long been a drawcard for locals and overseas tourists.
"There's no doubt it's been a tough year for the island, with the COVID-19 pandemic following the tragic January bushfires, but it's been incredible to see how quickly nature has bounced back and how it's back on the must-see list for Australian travellers."
One of the worst affected areas on the island is Flinders Chase National Park, with about 96 per cent of the park destroyed over the summer. Harrex said the park, which reopened in mid-February, is now covered in green shoots and regenerating well, and Seal Bay, has just as many sea lions as always.
"Whether it's checking out the stunning coastlines and secluded swimming spots, tasting the award-winning gin at Kangaroo Island Spirits, or visiting the wildlife at Raptor Domain, Kangaroo Island is firmly back on the must-see list for domestic travellers," Harrex said.
"The next very important step is to make sure that when the international borders open, the island is again in the spotlight for those looking for a uniquely Australian getaway."
Among this year's reader's choice results is another Australian destination, which made No.4 in the best biggest city in the world list – Sydney. Australia's largest city has been named as an ideal getaway "no matter the season" for its al fresco dinning, its rock pools and beaches (with special mentions to Bondi and Redleaf) as well as its neighbourhoods (Paddington and Surry Hills). Sydney was named behind Kyoto which topped the list at No.1, followed by Lisbon and Singapore, respectively.
Conde Nast Traveler said its 2020 Readers' Choice Awards results represented the first time readers voted when almost no one was travelling. The publication wrote: "the names in this year's edition are the ones that brought you comfort, that you still connected with long afterward, that got you through the months without travel. These are the enduring gems that can withstand the test of time and the vicissitudes of circumstances."