**Bedarra by Belinda McDowall


Bedarra Island Belinda taking time out to know paradise

The spectacular view from Treetop Hideaway on Bedarra Island. cropped-P9171640-1.jpg

For those in need of a quiet getaway with a hint of Robinson Crusoe but including all the mod cons, Bedarra Island may be the answer. With one boutique resort and only seven houses, privately-owned Bedarra Island is the absolute definition of a deserted island.

The welcoming sight of palm trees upon arrival at Bedarra Island. 


Bedarra Island is part of the Family Islands, situated just off the coast of Mission Beach, in Far North Queensland in Australia. The Family Islands were named by English explorer Captain James Cook, who came across them on his journey throughout the southern seas in 1770. This small group of islands consists of a ‘father isle’ – Dunk Island, popular in the 1980s and 90’s as a resort, but since the havoc wreaked by Cyclone Yasi in 2011, has become a tranquil retreat for campers – a ‘mother isle’ of Bedarra Island, and the ‘children’: ‘twins’ Wheeler Island and Coombe Island, and ‘triplets’: Smith, Bowden and Hudson Is.

The deserted white sands and crystal blue waters of Doorilla Beach. IMGA0886

Bedarra Island has been referred to by several names over the years. Captain Cook initially referred to it as Richards Island, and subsequently it became Allison Island, for the first European settler 

Captain Henry Allison. It became Bedarra Island thanks to author Edmund James Banfield, who lived on Dunk Island in the early 20th century, and wrote ‘Confessions of a Beachcomber’, inspired by the 23 years he spent in the Family Islands. Banfield began referring to the island as ‘Bedarra’, which was in fact a misspelling of the Indigenous term ‘Biagurra’, which translates loosely to ‘the place of endless water’.

He travelled extensively, but always returned to Bedarra and his studio.

WOOD, Noel Australia b.1912 d.2001,

Palm Trees surround the relaxing Doorilla Beach on Bedarra Island. 

The Family Islands, and particularly Bedarra, have attracted artists and writers since Banfield’s time, enticed by thoughts of a tropical idyll in which to while away the hours engaged in artistic pursuits and a bohemian lifestyle. In 1936, Australian modernist painter Noel Wood visited Bedarra and subsequently purchased a significant section of the eastern side of the island. Wood managed this property for almost 60 years, residing on the island for much of this time.

The rustic track from the beach up to the accommodation.

Other artists in residence included John Busst and his wife, who migrated to the island in the 1940s and hosted many guests from all walks of life during the forties and fifties, notably Prime Minster Harold Holt and his wife.

  Bedarra Island Treetop Hideaway. 

Six of the seven houses are rented out as holiday lettings, and each one is a private paradise, whether perched by the beach, on the rocks, or up near the top of the hill. The delightful Treetops Hideaway is one such house, its name providing clues as to some of its many charms. Hidden away amongst the treetops, a short but vigorous uphill walk from the beach, this luxury property provides everything one might require for a truly relaxing break.

Poet Judith Wright lived on Bedarra during the 1980s, and more recently photographer Peter Lik has owned a house on the island.

A section of Noel Wood’s land was subdivided in 1993 and sold, and the seven houses now on the north west of the island are each located within what was previously Wood’s land.

The beautiful recycled wood flooring of Treetop Hideaway.

The house has been designed by award-winning architect Chris Van Dyke using an ingenious design of three octagonal pavilions of Asian influence, and built using recycled timbers, including floors from old railway sleepers, and ceilings from bleached logs.

The sleeping quarters of Treetop Hideaway. Photograph by Belinda McDowall

Every wall is comprised of either glass doors or wooden louvred windows, which open up completely to an expansive deck offering a spectacular view over the water to some of the other Family Islands. A plunge pool is also on offer, for a quick dip after relaxing on the sunbeds.DSC06241