5 Australian islands to visit in a campervan

Australian islands to visit in a campervan

Australia enjoys a collection of more than eight thousand islands, which are scattered throughout the surrounding seaboards of its states and territories. Although this is a huge number of places, the accessible list of islands is much smaller, and drive-able options even less so.

A road trip adventure to one of Australia’s drive-on islands, provides a uniquely memorable way to experience a fantastic destination. A campervan is the ultimate option in flexible travel methods, and affords holidaymakers the ability to immerse themselves in pristine nature, which can be found at campgrounds in each one of these 5 island locations.

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Situated one and a half hours drive from Adelaide, the vehicle ferry from Cape Jervis operates regularly, but you will need to book in advance to ensure there is space and availability for your required dates.

Kangaroo Island is large, so having your own transport is essential to explore it all. As with all the islands on this list, activities and attractions are heavily (or almost completely), nature based. Over forty percent of Kangaroo Island consist of protected areas and National Parks, which accounts for the abundant native wildlife and picture-perfect landscapes.

Some recommended places to visit on Kangaroo Island:

  • Flinders Chase National Park:

Known for its spectacular natural rock formations, including Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, the park is also frequented by a colony of seals. In spring and summer, delight in the blooming wildflower display.

  • Little Sahara:

This huge expanse of sand dunes has options to participate in a buggy tour, sand tobogganing or a guided walk through the region – where you are almost certain to spot koalas in the trees above.

  • Seal Bay Conservation Park:

This protected area houses a large colony of sea lions – you can either pay a small fee to enter the area via a boardwalk, where you can easily see the animals on the nearby sand dunes, or if you want a closer encounter and some expert knowledge, you can participate in a guided tour.

  • Cape Willoughby Lighthouse:

Found inside the Cape Willoughby Conservation Park is the oldest of South Australia’s operational lighthouses. The visitor centre provides historical insight, and guided tours allow you to climb the lighthouse to enjoy the breath-taking view. The area is frequented by kangaroos too, which is just an added bonus.

Phillip Island, Victoria

There is no ferry required to get to Phillip Island, you simply drive on via the San Remo bridge, and it is less than two hours away from Melbourne city.

The Island is diverse in attractions and activities, containing surf beaches, museums, wineries and of course, plenty of nature experiences. This makes Phillip Island a place where anyone will have a great time, whether travelling with friends or family, as a couple or on a solo adventure.

Some recommended places to visit on Phillip Island:

  • Penguin Parade:

Observe the world’s largest colony of little penguins as they come ashore in the evening, knowing that your admission fee is put towards further conservation.

  • Seal Rock:

Take an adventure eco boat-tour and sail past a huge fur seal colony, where you will get to see thousands of them in their natural habitat.

  • Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit:

Located beside the famous Grand Prix track, is a museum “History of Motorsport”, a café, and a miniature version of the track. This 750-metre replica circuit is set up for go-kart racing (providing a great opportunity for bragging rights when you beat your travel companions).

  • Koala Conservation Reserve:

Visit 6 hectares of protected Koala habitat, allowing you to wander through the bushland via its many boardwalks, and experience native wildlife close up. There are no enclosures here, so sometimes you may see more or less wildlife, including echidnas, reptiles and many bird species.

Bruny Island, Tasmania

Just thirty minutes’ drive from Hobart, followed by a short twenty-minute ferry ride, will have you arriving at the natural wonderland of Bruny Island.

The island is notorious for its gourmet food and wine scene, extensive history, spectacular scenery and its diverse native flora and fauna. There are both paid campgrounds and free camping sites available on Bruny Island, depending on whether you need facilities or if your campervan is fully self-contained.

Some recommended places to visit on Bruny Island:

  • The Neck Game Reserve Lookout:

The North and South landmasses that form Bruny Island are joined by an isthmus referred to as “The Neck”. Take the 279 steps up to the top of this lookout point and be rewarded by phenomenal panoramic views. If you come just before dusk, you are likely to spot some little penguins on their way in to shore.

  • Inala Jurassic Garden:

For plant lovers and history buffs, enjoy this garden of ancient Gondwanan flora species, then explore the attached Nature Museum, featuring shells, fossils and gemstones.

  • Quarantine Station:

Gain insight into local Bruny Island history dating back to the 1800’s, at the old-world quarantine station, which screened international sailors, returning soldiers and even plant-life. Information about the Spanish Flu epidemic is especially interesting.

  • Cape Bruny Lighthouse:

This must-see attraction was erected in 1836, and the tour provides both fascinating historical information and a remarkable view. There is a 10km unsealed road on the way in, so make sure you are covered to drive your campervan or hire car to get here.

North Stradbroke Island, South East Queensland

Known affectionately to locals as “Straddie”, North Stradbroke Island (the world’s second largest sand island), is located off the coast of South East Queensland. It takes about forty minutes’ drive from Brisbane city to get to the harbour, and then it is less than an hour’s ferry ride across.

The pristine beaches here are so rugged and untouched, that they were used in the 2021 filming of Amazon’s TV series, “The Wilds”. The mixture of swimming and surf beaches provide the main holiday attraction on Straddie, and there is no shortage of options.

Some recommended places to visit on North Stradbroke Island:

  • Amity Point Beach:

This beautiful stretch of coastline is somewhat sheltered, making it great for swimming and snorkelling. Dolphins frequent the area, so you might get lucky and see a few frolicking nearby.

  • Frenchman’s Beach:

One of the beaches used in the filming of “The Wild’s”, this stunning spot is not for swimming, but a gorgeous place for nature walks, or to explore the sparkling rock pools. There are a lot of stairs to get down to the beach, so be prepared for the walk back up.

  • Brown Lake:

To have a respite from all the salt-water, there is also a wonderful fresh-water swimming lake on the island. It is also a perfect spot for a picnic, with a playground and bathroom facilities available.

Magnetic Island, Tropical North Queensland

Townsville in Tropical North Queensland is the gateway to Magnetic Island, by means of a quick twenty-minute ferry ride across the 8kms of ocean, that separates it from the mainland.

Magnetic Island is known for its accessibility to the Great Barrier Reef, but it also has its own abundant nature and thriving wildlife. From sandy beaches and coral reefs, to national parks and bushwalks, you are spoilt for choice in this tropical paradise.

Some recommended places to visit on Magnetic Island:

  • Arthur Bay:

This beautiful secluded beach is fairly protected, providing an ideal place to swim. One half of the ocean floor is filled with an exquisite coral reef, creating the perfect chance to go snorkelling.

  • Forts Walk:

This popular walking trail is located within the Magnetic Island National Park. The track visits historic World War II forts, while providing spectacular panoramic views, and another plus – this area houses a huge colony of koalas. The track takes around ninety minutes to complete.

  • Geoffrey Bay:

Renowned for the adorable rock wallabies that frequent the area, this bay is also the site of the Moltke Shipwreck, a popular place to dive and explore the vast species of ocean wildlife.

Australia is lucky to have so many amazing drive-on island destinations to choose from, the hardest decision now, is deciding which one to do first!