Escape the cold with an island visit

Last updated 09:17 12/07/2013
Lizard island

PURE LUXURY: When approached from the air, Lizard Island Appears like a scene from the film Jurassic Park.

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When we're feeling the bite of winter in the bottom hemisphere, we look to the north for island inspiration.

Here are 10 Aussie islands to visit to escape the cold - they're close enough for a quick getaway, yet far away enough to feel exotic:

COCOS KEELING ISLANDS

For a destination that feels far from Australia, head to Cocos Keeling Islands.

This group of coral islands is in the Indian Ocean, far flung from the shores of Western Australia.

For adrenalin addicts, try kitesurfing and windsurfing in the stunning aqua waters.

If you're more about tradition, go fishing, snorkelling, diving or birdwatching. Or you can simply relax on the beach, swim with dugongs and bask in the quiet of one of Australia's most isolated destinations.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND

The annual red crab migration across the beaches of Christmas Island is reason itself to visit this remote spot off the coast of WA.

But there is also great scuba diving, with whale sharks stopping by between November and April.

Lovers of the outdoors will be kept busy on the rainforest walking trails, while the island is also a seabird breeding ground and the surrounding waters attract keen anglers.

THEVENARD ISLAND

For somewhere else a tad different to your typical island getaway, check out Thevenard Island, part of the Mackerel Islands group.

It's off the coast of WA's Pilbara region, near the small town of Onslow.

Although it's not a tropical beauty, it does still have white sand beaches and turquoise water.

A coral reef makes for good snorkelling, and fishermen are known to reel in numerous species, including Spanish mackerel, snapper and yellow-fin tuna.

MELVILLE ISLAND

Melville is one of two inhabited islands that form part of the Tiwi Islands, off Darwin. It's much bigger than its sister, Bathurst Island, but don't come here expecting a resort-style holiday made up of sunbaking and margarita-sipping.

A visit to Melville is about the culture of the Tiwi people. Expect to learn about the local arts and craft, which includes batik clothing, carvings, pottery and Pukumani burial poles.

If you can't stand the humidity, there are swimming holes on Melville.

HINCHINBROOK ISLAND

Wild and woolly, Hinchinbrook Island, a stone's throw off the coast of tropical north Queensland, is the kind of place you'll find your own private beach to spend the day at.

It's also a great destination for birdwatching, attracting species such as herons, cockatoos and pretty wompoo pigeons.

Hikers will be kept happy and swimmers can explore the secluded bays and snorkel above coral reefs.

The island is about 37km long and 10km wide and is covered in national park.

HAGGERSTONE ISLAND

For a family holiday with a difference, head way north to the secluded, privately-owned Haggerstone Island.

It's a whopping 600km north of Cairns so access isn't easy, and with a couple of flights and a boat transfer in order, it'll likely cost you a pretty penny to get there. But once you do you'll be blown away by the beauty.

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Near the tip of Australia's rugged Cape York, visitors can stay on Haggerstone Island at a resort straight out of Treasure Island.

Managed by a family for 20 years, parents are encouraged to take along the rug rats.

LIZARD ISLAND

Lizard Island, north of Cooktown, is what dreams are made of. You can dive the well-known Cod Hole or snorkel just off the island's white beaches.

If you love fishing, time your stay with the marlin fishing season from September to December.

The surrounding waters are also great for sailing and kiteboarding, while on dry land there are plenty of bushwalking opportunities.

LADY ELLIOT ISLAND

The southern-most island in the Great Barrier Reef group, Lady Elliot is a haven for nature lovers.

Bird life is abundant and the marine life very accessible. Visitors can step off the beach and snorkel, while not much further out are great scuba diving spots.

This coral cay is also a popular place to watch turtles nest and hatch.

MAGNETIC ISLAND

Farther north along the Queensland coast, off Townsville, is the ever-popular Magnetic Island.

More than two-thirds of the island is a national park, with hoop pine trees, eucalypts and vine forest.

There is also Mount Cook (497m above sea level), plentiful bays and beaches, and a large koala colony.

SOUTH MOLLE ISLAND

One for backpackers, budget travellers and families is South Molle Island in the Whitsundays.

There is plenty to keep holidaymakers entertained, with golf, tennis, squash and even archery available for landlubbers.

For water enthusiasts, take your pick between sailing, parasailing, waterskiing, jet skiing and diving.

South Molle Island isn't for wallflowers. It has an upbeat, party atmosphere with live music and themed entertainment.

- AAP

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