Friday was my last day in the house and it took me a bit longer than I expected to take care of the last few odds and ends. That meant I barely caught the final call for my flight and almost missed the plane.
I connected in Brisbane and landed in Hamilton Island in the early afternoon. Auntie Mildred was already waiting for me, having arrived on an earlier flight from Adelaide. The airport was a bit sketchy. Passengers had to wait for another plane to take off from the tarmac before we could walk inside to claim our luggage, straight off the carts. Not sure what I was expecting for an island airport, but I suppose that would be it.
Auntie and I took the ferry across to Long Island Resort where we were staying, where I happened to win the on-board raffle for a free trip to Whitehaven Beach, the tour we were planning to take anyway. Our luck continued. After looking at the budget accommodation, we decided to upgrade. Queensland tourism is hurting after the flooding and Cyclone Yasi, so we were offered a sweet deal on an ocean front room, which we gladly took.
I’ll let the photos on Facebook tell the story about what the resort itself is like.
At dinner we were disappointed with food that was quite “average” as the expression is over here, so we since decided to eat in the cafe rather than the full buffet every night. It was a glass or two of wine and then we called it an early night. I was exhausted from the cab-train-plane-transfer-ferry adventure, and I’m sure Auntie was as well from her travels.
Saturday didn’t start out promising, a grey sky and drizzling rain. The weather turned around by 9 am and has been beautiful since. I spent the morning drifting in and out of sleep in a hammock by the beach. In the afternoon I went down to the fish feeding and saw massive batfish battle it out for the bread we were feeding them. I also got into the kayak and paddled around Happy Bay where the resort is located. How can you not have a good time when you’re in a place named Happy Bay? It blew my mind when I saw the sun go down in the east, and it was just one more reminder how conventional wisdom and common truths that you take for granted disappear when you are halfway around the world. Sunday boasted even better weather and more of the same. Eating, sleeping, drinking, lounging in the sun.
Monday we had booked onto the Camira sailing trip, one of the fastest catamarans in the world, and headed out onto the Great Barrier Reef. We stopped for a snorkel in the morning and I had a chance to use my new underwater camera. (Check out the pics on Facebook.) Then we headed around Whitsunday Island to spend an hour or so on Whitehaven Beach, one of the top 10 in the world. The sand is made primarily of silica, which is great for washing your hair or polishing up your jewelry. Auntie and I waded into the water after donning our wetsuits (jellyfish season – don’t want to get stung!) and I marvelled at the buoyancy in the water – a person couldn’t drown if he tried. After that we set sail back to the resort, enjoying all the mini bottles of champagne we wanted.
On the trip I met two fellow Canadians who happened to be staying at the same resort as me, so after we got back to the resort we continued the party at the beach bar. Two games of Sociables later, we decided it would be fun to go skinny dipping. There was no way we were going into the ocean in the dark – who knows what’s lurking under the water? Instead we jumped into the resort pool and then raced into the spa (hot tub). Sadly we were in for a surprise. Australia’s version of a hot tub isn’t all that hot, so after shivering a bit we called it a night at 3:45 a.m.
Tuesday I woke up rather late, about 10:30, and lounged around reading a tabloid magazine and enjoying a good cup of coffee. Then Auntie and I headed over to the “Back Beach” on the other side of the island, a real hidden gem. I was amazed by all the little creatures in the shallow water – tiny crabs, snails, minnows – and corals just meters from the shore. Auntie and I saw a sea snake darting under one of the corals and so retreated from the water. Don’t want to know what they can do to a person!
And now I am sitting at the beach bar enjoying a cold drink and updating my blog. It’s the first time I’ve turned my computer on days, and I must confess, I haven’t really missed it.
Well, until next time…