10 Queensland islands you’ve never heard of
It may seem counterintuitive to share a list of the most secret Queensland islands but really, it would be rude not to. This is Queensland after all, where friendliness is in the water and there’s no shortage of beauty to go around.
Plus with so many islands off the coast – almost 2000 diverse beauties, actually – the secret is probably safe anyway. From uninhabited coral cays to luxe private bungalow-dotted isles, the sheer amount will leave your island-hopping appetite well and truly sated.
Whether you’re a card carrying Queensland islandophile or just starting out on your journey to true fandom, put this lineup of hidden gems on your list.
For the Queensland island bundle deal: Frankland Island National Park
If you’re looking for a quintessential Great Barrier Reef experience (who isn’t?), then hop aboard a Frankland Island Reef Cruise to this bevy of coral-fringed islands. Just 10km offshore and 45km south east of Cairns, this uninhabited and World Heritage-listed archipelago – consisting of Russell, Normanby, High, Mabel and Round Islands – is the definition of pristine.
Whether daytripping or staying for a while (self-sufficient campers can stay on Russell and High Islands only) the Frankland Islands is perfect if you want untouched beauty in an accessible package.
Sink below the surface on a diving or Skoo Do adventure for an audience with the Great Barrier Reef’s star attractions. Hard and soft coral, manta rays, turtles, dugongs, whales and giant clams will be the main event, but the islands’ rocky outcrops, coastal vegetation and dense rainforest also set the scene for a staggering diversity of flora and fauna experiences (including an array of bird species) you won’t find anywhere but Queensland.
The gateway to the Whitsundays: Keswick Island
Queensland’s very own Treasured Island at the start of the Whitsunday Islands, as it’s nicknamed, Keswick Island boasts a bounty of island gold just a short sea or air journey from Mackay, only 32kms north. Diversity is this island’s middle name.
Walk through the beautiful coral gardens or dive into reef caves to see teeming marine life such as turtles, manta rays, dolphins and hundreds of tropical fish species. For divers, Keswick Island has three shipwrecks all within 30 minutes of the island, offering world-class diving and a history lesson in one.
If you like your bushwalking with a generous side helping of spectacular, hit the trails that snake their way across the island. You’ll wind through tropical vegetation, alongside private coves and fringing reef beaches and underneath a bevy of birdlife. Between June and October, keep an eye out for pods of humpbacks on their annual migration north – one for the bucket list!
Don’t forget to taste the sweetest part of Keswick Island – its honey. Home to a healthy population of Caucasian bees, the colony produces a unique honey that can only be sampled and bought from the Keswick Kiosk.
Life is sweet at Sweers Island, situated in the Southern Gulf of Carpentaria, considered to be where the outback meets the ocean. While many are lured here for the fishing, there’s also plenty of other activities such as bird watching, nature walks, bushwalking and boating. Accommodation is in comfortable cabins.
Perched off the coast of Mackay, in the Whitsundays, sits pretty Keswick Island. Stay in a self-contained house, or fully-catered guest house, and enjoy the abundant nature, which has contributed to this being nicknamed the “treasured island”. There’s birds, bees and bushwalking here, as well as diving, snorkelling and coral walks.
Another island off the Gladstone coast in the Southern Great Barrier Reef that has received little press is Facing Island. Travel just 12km by boat from the mainland for secluded beaches, camping, 4WDing, fishing, surfing and unspoiled bushland. You’ll love the expanse of sandy beaches here.
For ultimate seclusion, head to Tropical North Queensland and 600km north of Cairns near the tip of Cape York you’ll find this remote island. There are only seven structures on this property – four huts, a beach house, pavilion and jetty. Go sand boarding, fishing, spearfishing, skin diving, snorkelling, bird watching and beachcombing.
North West Island
Further away from the Gladstone coast, 75km to be precise, sits North West Island. Part of Capricorn Cays National Park, this island is the largest Coral Cay in the area and is ideal for camping, bushwalking, reef walking, diving, snorkelling and studying nature. The fishing is reported to be good here, too.
If you want to soak up the culture of Queensland’s Torres Strait Islanders, head to Thursday Island in Tropical North Queensland. There’s several hotels, motels, lodges and a hostel here. The Grand Hotel offers views over Endeavour Strait, Horn Island (which has a modern motel and a hotel) and Prince of Wales Island.
Situated between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, you’ll find this island with the cutesy name, which some say is the “jewel of Moreton Bay”. This tiny land mass – it’s only 5 square kilometres in size – is named after the prominent red rock on the island. There’s a motel, private accommodation or the aptly-named Quirky Cottages.
Also in Moreton Bay off Brisbane sits Russell Island, which is practically a city compared to Coochiemudlo. There’s a host of accommodation here, from private holiday homes to motels and hotels. Check out the Gooramundra Trail walking track on this island.