Koalas, beaches, coral reefs and
bayside seafood dining
The ferries come and go from Nelly Bay while residents sip coffees and cocktails that more than meet the big-city standards of the mainland. Take a seat overlooking the harbour and tuck into a tropical breakfast, wood-fired pizza or good Aussie pub grub. Watching locals fishing off the pier reminds you that the seafood here is some of the freshest and tastiest in the country. Try the barramundi, the coral trout, a hot sandwich with fried mud crab.
Even better, you can always catch your own, from tranquil inland waters or the deck of a boat off Middle Reef or West Point. Some say the best of the island lies offshore, beneath the surface, as seen through a diver’s mask: those luminous coral gardens where the sunken shipwrecks of the Moltke and the Adelaide now teem with marine life.
History has deep roots on land too, dating back to the ancient shell middens and folk stories of the Wulgurukaba people who called the place Yunbenun (before Captain Cook renamed it because of its supposed effect on his ship’s compass). One of the island’s many hiking trails brings you to the ruined Forts complex, a World War Two coastal battery and dramatic lookout.
Over half the island is a national park, home to more than 800 koalas, nestled amid the eucalypt branches of their Bungalow Bay sanctuary. A peaceful walk through the hoop pines is one way to reach a secluded sunset viewing spot. Another is to rent a toylike convertible “Barbie car”. Load up with a picnic and take off for your favourite quiet corner of the island with a tropical breeze in your hair.