10 April 2013 by Alex Stewart
Australia is well-known for road trips and superb self-drive holidays, with plenty of classic overland journeys to choose from. There are also several iconic rail journeys that crisscross the country allowing you to explore regions that aren't readily accessible by road.
However, there are also a number of wonderful opportunities to discover the country's best islands aboard a luxurious sailing boat. Alternatively, travel on some of Australia's famous, historic waterways to discover hidden corners. Read our round up of some of the best multi-day cruises and day trips to tackle to uncover destinations beyond the icons.
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Kangaroo Island is regarded by many as a zoo without fences and anyone looking to combine wildlife-spotting with island living should take the short flight from Adelaide or ferry from Cape Jervis. On the island, pink pelicans wheel through the air whilst sea lions recline on the sand of Seal Bay. Koalas and the islands namesake marsupial can also be found in large numbers.
All the island essentials are here too, from fishing to snorkelling, swimming, sunbathing and beachcombing. This being South Australia, there's also exceptional local wine and fresh produce to try. For the best experience, take to the waves aboard the Lade Eugenie, a beautiful 75-foot ketch with four en suite cabins for everything from a twilight cruise to a three-day adventure that explores the island and its breathtaking coastline.
Gordon River, Tasmania
The fishing village of Strahan on Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast is a great base from which to explore the World Heritage-listed Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. It's also the departure point for cruises on the magnificent Gordon River.
Board the Lady Jane Franklin II in Strahan for a scenic cruise upriver. The memorable trip includes the chance to walk among 2,000-year-old rainforest and uncover the ruins of the former penal colony on Sarah Island. There's also the chance to explore Hell's Gate and visit a Tasmanian salmon farm.
Explore Tasmania's Western Highlands
Stay at the Wheelhouse Apartments or Ormiston House in Strahan
Swan River, Western Australia
Western Australia's oft-overlooked capital, Perth, has a style all of its own. Stood on the banks of the Swan River, it boasts a laidback lifestyle, vibrant café culture and numerous famed beaches. The city's heartbeat can be felt most clearly on the banks of the river, a natural haven where the city's residents flock to sunbathe, swim and escape the bustle of urban life.
When you've enjoyed all that the city has to offer, take a wine tasting tour in the picturesque Swan Valley. Rather than drive, sail up the Swan River, past the historic town of Guildford, to the state's oldest wine-growing region; the area produces just 3% of all Australia's wine but a staggering 25% of its premium vintages. Enjoy lunch and afternoon tea on board and go wine tasting at the Waters Edge Winery to discover the diverse landscapes and gourmet delights of Australia's south-west corner.
The Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
The Whitsunday Islands in the Great Barrier Reef are among Australia's greatest natural attractions. For many sailors, snorkelers and beach lovers, the mosaic of coral platforms, turquoise lagoons and sandy cays are about as close to perfect as you can get.
The 74 islands are most commonly accessed from Queensland's Airlie Beach. Many are uninhabited but can be visited on multi-day sailing trips; there are private charters and pre-scheduled cruises available from outfits such as DescaradA Luxury Charters. It's also possible to stay in luxurious resorts on several of them, where there's a wide range of island activities to delay your departure.
Cruise the Whitsunday Islands
Stay at the private Hayman Island Resort