The hidden isles: Six of Australia's lesser-known island adventures

There are 8222 islands linked to our country, plenty for all. Here are a few you may have overlooked in your travels.

MONTAGUE ISLAND, NSW

Montague Island, NSW.

Montague Island, NSW. Photo: Tom Park/Destination NSW

A lonely granite lighthouse, designed by serial lighthouse architect James Barnet in 1881, is the marker for Barunguba, better known as Montague Island. Located nine kilometres off the coast of Narooma on the NSW south coast, its two whitewashed cottages were occupied by the head and assistant lighthouse keeper until the lighthouse went automatic in 1986. But while humans may come and go, the island maintains its colony of hundreds of fur seals, who don't mind a dip with humans, though your water acrobatics will  also be upstaged by the little penguins at this address. The cottages sleep seven and 12 respectively, with wide verandahs to sit and spy dolphins and whales. From $2460, including transfers and an island tour. See nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

COCOS KEELING ISLANDS

Cossies Beach, Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Cossies Beach, Cocos Keeling Islands. Photo: Rik Soderlund

Every year, self-appointed Beach Ambassador Brad Farmer travels Australia in search of the perfect beach, and in the past, Cossie's Beach, has taken out top honours. It's a 4½ flight west of Perth to the 27 islands that comprise the Cocos, including Direction Island, where Cossie's is located. To stay here, it's a half-hour ride on the twice-weekly ferry from the two main Cocos islands, Home and West, with unsupported camping (no permit required). Those requiring more comfort should book a room at the Cocos Village Bungalows, in the heart of the action on West Island. From $240 a night. Virgin Australia flies Perth-Cocos Keeling Islands twice weekly. See cocosvillagebungalows.com and cocoskeelingislands.com.au

BREMER ISLAND, NT

Banu Banu Beach Retreat is nestled in the sand dunes on the north tip of Bremer Island, between two pristine beaches and rocky headlands. Banu Banu is part of a greater arena of beautiful offshore islands in the Arafura Sea, it has so much for nature lovers, fishermen and those who just want to chill out and relax.

Bremer Island is part of a greater arena of beautiful offshore islands in the Arafura Sea. Photo: James Fisher/Tourism NT

As Arnhem Land shrugs off its European placenames, Bremer Island, off the coast of East Arnhem Land, will finds its voice as Dhambaliya. A 30-minute boat ride through the clear waters of the Arafura Sea, or a 15-minute flight from Gove airport at Nhulunbuy, touchdown is on Yolgnu land. Return visitors here include nesting turtles who visit all year found, and the fishing is said to be as good as you'd expect in the Top End. Named for the northerly point on which the resort is located, eco-retreat Banu Banu has just six ocean-facing bungalows and beachfront tents. Take its sea kayaks out for a paddle or go snorkelling in the western bay, and owner Helen Martin recommends a blue-water fishing charter. From $870 per person a night, including all meals, non-alcoholic drinks and boat or air transfers from Gove Airport. See banubanu.com

PICNIC ISLAND, TAS

Picnic Island

Picnic Island Photo: Tourism Tasmania

At just 80 metres long, your circumnavigation of Picnic Island should take just a minute. Now, about that glass of Tassie red… An island for your nearest and dearest, there are only five double rooms, sleeping a maximum of 10, on this scrap of rock, 800 metres off the coast of the Freycinet National Park in eastern Tasmania. Discover the penguin rookery in the neighbourhood, watch whales passing by, or book a special-interest weekend: choose from astro-photography, yoga or birding. Next year sees plans for a small wedding chapel looking out to the Hazards mountain range. Costs $2200 for the whole island, including transfers. Check online for substantial discounts. See picnicisland.com.au

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You could have Picnic Island all to yourself. Photo: Luke Tscharke

FRASER ISLAND, VIC

Victoria's Fraser Island.

Victoria's Fraser Island. Photo: Tourism Victoria

Don't be confused thinking of the more famous Fraser Island in Queensland, this private isle is a short boat ride from Lakes Entrance, in the Gippsland Lakes. Low and flat, the 30-hectare island is big enough to accommodate a sawn-off golf course, tennis courts and "Kawar'', an 11-bedroom homestead built in 1906 by the son of David Syme, founding editor of The Age newspaper. The house sleeps 38, and a bunkhouse on the lawns accommodates another 11. Drop a line in for whiting or flathead off the jetty, and you'll pick up prawns from the back of the island. On the water, your company may include pelicans, dolphins and the odd seal. On land, spot a mob of kangaroos and perhaps a few shy deer on a slow one-hour perambulation of the entire isle. From $2000, midweek, minimum two-night stay. See fraserislandretreat.com.au

THURSDAY ISLAND, QLD

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Photo: Mark Fitz/TEQ

The best known of the 274 islands in the Torres Strait Islands archipelago (did you know there's also Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday islands?). Loaded with Second World War history, Friday Island is home to one of Queensland's last pearl farms, run by Japanese pearler Kazuyoshi Takami, who also serves up the freshest sushi. The four-star Island Villas on Thursday Island are a five-minute walk from the Gab Titui cultural centre and a 20-minute wander to the popular sunset viewing site Green Hill Fort, built in 1891 to protect Australia from a Russian invasion. From $320 a night. Fly to Thursday Island from Cairns or ferry from Cape York. See islandvillas.net.au and tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au

See also: Paradise on a budget: Australia's cheapest islands

See also: Australia's ten most fun islands

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