The Whitsunday Islands was the destination for our latest Australian escapade, which was timed to coincide with Tom turning 28 (on the 27th) and the one year anniversary of our engagement. After last year’s rather impressive and romantic gesture from Tom of proposing on the sandy beaches of Bunker Bay , I thought it was my turn to come up with something special to celebrate his birthday. Whilst checking my emails during a footie match (I do all my best thinking in the third quarter – obviously I’m still paying attention to the game, yes really.. erm, ok not always) I chanced upon some reasonably cheap flights to Hamilton Island. I decided to book the trip as a surprise for Tom and excitedly told him that we’d be going away to a ‘mystery location’ for his birthday! 20 minutes later at half time I carelessly flashed my phone in his direction and he couldn’t help but read the giant orange letters on my email header ‘HAMILTON ISLAND HOTEL BOOKING’. Dammit. So the surprise ended there, but the anticipation began!
The Whitsunday Islands are a collection of continental islands off the coast of Queensland, approximately 900km north of Brisbane, which are actually mountains drowned by rising sea levels. Hamilton Island is the commercial centre of the group, but other islands also welcome tourists, including the idyllic honeymoon destination Daydream Island. We’ve got 18 months to go before we can claim to be honeymooners, so after ruling out the amusingly named ‘Plum Pudding Island’ (yes, that’s real!), we settled for Hamilton.
Our second day was spent doing what everyone comes to the Whitsundays for – sailing. Aboard a 20 metre catamaran we spent a glorious day basking in the sun, swimming, sitting on the beach, snorkelling and watching the crew do all the hard work! Snorkelling on the reef is something that I was really looking forward to, but the fish were a little disappointing in numbers and the water was freezing. The promise of 24 degree waters was definitely a false one, although the crystal clear visibility did make jumping in a slightly more tempting option. As with our previous snorkel trip, it’s stinger season in Australia, meaning that lyrca suits are mandatory for all swimmers. The protection offered is not just a physical barrier between your skin and the water, but also the unflattering cut, colour and ‘cling’ which is enough to put any jellyfish off coming near you. NOBODY looks good in these things, but some people look particularly hideous and it doesn’t help your confidence that the size is written across the shoulder in black marker – pity the woman with the XXXL suit. Our day trip also included a visit to Whitehaven beach, which has apparently made every list on the topics of Top 10 places to go / beaches to sit on blah blah. It was incredible and the pictures probably don’t do it justice, but the fact that there was a fat man selling Four X beer out of an esky on a totally uninhabited island just topped off the ‘Aussie’ experience for us!
a trip to Australia, this paradise should be on your list.
We stayed at: The Reef View Hotel
We ate at: Mariners
We snorkelled with: Cruise Indigo