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7 small Australian islands to explore this summer

It’s time to explore Australia’s beautiful islands. From beachy paradises overlooking the Great Barrier Reef to the world’s largest sand island, here are seven of the best to get you started.

Dangar Island in New South Wales

Lounge by the water at this Hamptons style boathouse

Lounge by the water at this Hamptons style boathouse

From the shore, Dangar Island is a tiny spot of green, floating in the Hawkesbury River. Look closer and you’ll notice something even more unique – an island covered in trees, and with no private car ownership, you might spot locals transporting goods from the ferry via wheelbarrow. You can stay on the island at the Hamptons Shack Boat House, or a short ferry ride away at the Brooklyn Motel.

Maria Island in Tasmania

Gnarled trees and spectacular walkways capture the island's dramatic landscape

Gnarled trees and spectacular walkways capture the island's dramatic landscape

Maria Island has a truly dramatic landscape, where rainforests and soaring cliffs jostle for space with long sandy beaches and wildlife reserves. It’s not possible to stay on the island but you can stay a 10-minute walk from the pristine beaches at Prosser Bay, when you book a room at Orford’s Sandra House B&B. Here you’ll find a vine covered veranda perfect for long summer evenings, and easy access to the Maria Island ferry.

Orpheus Island in Queensland

With over 30 beaches, there's no shortage of sunbathing opportunities

With over 30 beaches, there's no shortage of sunbathing opportunities

For a relaxing base from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef, look no further than Orpheus Island. Just west of the Barrier reef, this sun drenched island has over 30 beaches and is part of the same national park as the slightly larger Palm Island. Despite being relatively small in size – with a population of only 21 – it is possible to stay on the island at the Orpheus Island Resort.

Green Island in Queensland

Teal waters keep the green theme alive on this island

Teal waters keep the green theme alive on this island

Green Island was created by a steady build up of sand and coral on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Though starting out as the ocean’s dumping ground, today the island is a brilliant green oasis, surrounded by white sand beaches. Visitors often just stay for the day but there is also a splendid hideaway on the island itself – the Green Island Resort.

Lord Howe Island in North Coast, New South Wales

Lord Howe Island is near-tropical paradise with untouched nature and sweeping vistas

Lord Howe Island is near-tropical paradise with untouched nature and sweeping vistas

As Lord Howe Island is the only place in the world where you can find certain endangered species, visits to the island are strictly controlled. Plan your trip well in advance, because the untouched forests and secluded pebble bays of this near-tropical paradise are not to be missed. To make sure you don’t miss out, try the Beachcomber Lodge for easy access to two of the island’s most popular beaches: Ned’s Beach and Middle Beach.

Magnetic Island in Queensland

Allegedly over 800 koalas live on the island

Allegedly over 800 koalas live on the island

Over half of Magnetic Island is observed as National Parkland and recent estimates believe that over 800 koalas live on the island. As well as being covered in eucalyptus forests, Magnetic Island also has a surplus of white sand beaches. Anglers and holiday makers particularly favour Florence Bay and Picnic Bay (although they both have their own distinct stretches of coastline). For accomodation close to the beach and the beautiful Nelly Bay, check into the Island Leisure Resort.

Fraser Island in Queensland

Glide along the sandy beaches – this time on four wheels

Glide along the sandy beaches – this time on four wheels

Fraser Island’s Seventy Five Mile Beach is one of the longest in Australia and the combination of clear open stretches and sand dunes makes it a popular spot for four-wheel driving. Often referred to as “a highway on the beach”, this stretch of sand is also where you’ll find the legendary Maheno shipwreck and unusual volcanic rock formations. Only a 4-minute walk from the beach, Fraser Island Resort has sea views and an on-site bistro.