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Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island

Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island. These 3 lesser-known territories have some excellent options for all family travel adventures.

1. Christmas Island

red crabs on christmas island. image christmas island tourism association
Red crabs on Christmas Island. Image: Christmas Island Tourism Association

Described by beloved naturalist Sir David Attenborough as “one of the ten greatest natural wonders on earth”, the annual red crab migration on Christmas Island is a fantastic phenomenon for families looking for something different this year. But getting the timing right can be tricky, as it starts with the first rainfall of the wet season, usually in October or November, but is ultimately determined by the moon. Red crabs leave their homes throughout the island at the same time, and start marching towards the ocean to mate and spawn. The island, which lies 2,600km northwest of Perth, is a beautiful destination in its own right. Swim at deserted beaches named after the female relatives of the first settlers, go snorkelling in crystal clear water to see glowing coral gardens, hike through rainforest, go fishing or bird watching. The newish luxury eco-retreat, Swell Lodge, is a great accommodation option, and welcomes guests with kids.

2. Cocos (Keeling) Islands

a girl waving at a kite surfer in the cocos keeling islands
A girl waving at a kite surfer in the Cocos Keeling Islands

If you’re itching to travel overseas, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are about as far as you can get from the mainland of Australia without leaving the country. Located 2,750km northwest of Perth and 900km from Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, the Australian territory is also as close to paradise as you are likely to find. The atoll consists of 26 coral islands, two of which are inhabited, forming a horseshoe shape around the lagoon. It’s a popular destination for kiteboarding, windsurfing, snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and motorised outrigger canoe tours. Most accommodation is on West Island, which makes a great base for island hopping. You can also catch the ferry to Home Island to stay at the historic Clunies-Ross residence, and discover the culture and traditions of the Cocos Malay people who reside there.

3. Norfolk Island

emily bay on norfolk island is ideal for families
Emily Bay on Norfolk Island is ideal for families

A holiday on Norfolk Island offers families the chance to combine activities, such as swimming and snorkelling in the calm lagoon at Emily Bay, with learning about history whilst wandering around the ruins of the convict settlement and fascinating graveyard at Kingston. An easy 2.5 hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane, you can also learn how goat’s cheese is made at Hilli’s Farm, marvel at the rock formations on a guided sea kayaking tour and join a guided trek to the outer island, Phillip Island.


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