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Published: July 22nd 2006
Aaaaah : )
Sunset on the Hamilton Island Harbour.
While preparing to head off to Hamilton Island, Sarah decided to read the really fine print on the Qantas e-ticket… and realized that we are supposed to have Australian photo ID or a passport… and we left our passports at home. Major stress the night before heading out… no other airline flies from Cairns to Hamilton Island, and if we’re denied boarding because of improper ID, it’s going to be a very nasty situation. We could possibly fly to Brisbane, then wait a day and get to Hamilton Island with another carrier… but we would lose the $ for the flight and one day on the island… needless to say, Sarah didn’t sleep much that night.
We were picked up at 5:15am for our transfer to the Cairns airport… with our fingers and toes crossed that we would be able to catch our flight. And… we did! No problems… we showed our Canadian driver’s licenses and the ticket agent didn’t even ask for any additional ID! Now that was an incredible feeling of relief.
The Dash-8 flight to Hamilton Island was beautiful. The day was clear and sunny, and we could see the outline of reefs all along the
Tidal pool animals
This giant clam closed as we approached but let us get a closeup of his excurrent (filtered water comes out here).
way. We were on the island and transferred to reception by 9am! Of course, our room wasn’t ready, so we dropped our bags and headed for the beach. The weather posed a bit of a challenge - too chilly to sit in the shade, and just right to sit out in the sun, but our sunscreen was in our locked luggage back at reception. Our room was a self-contained bungalow with a tongue-and-groove wooded peaked ceiling and our own kitchenette. The bathroom was dated and needed some serious upgrading.
The entire island is privately owned, and the area by the marina is like a small, very expensive village (Picture a wealthy secluded town with one owner for all of the businesses and no competitors. How much would YOU charge for a bottle of water? ... they charged more than that.). We spent part of the day admiring and drooling over the boats moored at the marina! The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the sun and keeping warm (remember… it is winter!)
Our second day on the island was spent sleeping in and relaxing. We did go on a good bushwalk up to the resort lookout
We took a sunset dinner cruise through the Whitsunday Islands. Easily the best food on the island.
(the second-highest point on the island). What an incredible view of the resort, airport and marina. We spent time today exploring the fringing reef that is exposed during low tide (The tides here are really awesome… the difference between low and high tide is several hundred metres!) Most of the exposed fringing reef was dead but we still did our best to keep to the sandy areas. We saw a small leopard shark, a giant sea slug, tons of crabs and fish and two giant clams (40-50 cm across). The tides here are so extreme the resort has two different times for watersports - catamarans and windsurfers during high tide, snorkelling during low tide.
Day three on the island was a rainy, cold, miserable day. We spent the time reading, doing sudoku puzzles, writing postcards and doing laundry. A productive day with some “forced relaxation.”
The good weather returned the following day, so we found a good spot on the beach and soaked up the sun all day (after lathering up with sunscreen, of course.) Tom was very disciplined and stayed in the shade all day, but Sarah had to stay in the sun to keep warm. During
Catseye Beach at sunset
This beach had a great tidal range - probably 500 m between low and high tide.
low tide in the afternoon, we dug out our fins, masks and snorkels and investigated the fringing reef from under water. The water was VERY cold in spots, but we did get to see some really cool things. Lots of long, skinny pipefish with bright orange noses, some small sting rays relaxing on the bottom in the sand, a shovelnose ray, a fringe-eye flathead and a majestic eagle ray skimming across the top of the reef (it’s body alone was a metre across!)
For dinner, we booked a dinner cruise on the Dennison Star. It was a beautiful evening. We saw a gorgeous sunset from the middle of the Whitsundays and enjoyed the best meal of our vacation with Lil and Hazel - two 70ish, retired sisters who spend their winters travelling (They told us that Canada was beautiful but the tropical gardens at the Calgary zoo was quite disappointing).
No plans for our final day on the island, so we continued to sit back and relax. We enjoyed the beach and sun and did a little more snorkelling. Unfortunately, the visibility wasn’t as good as it was the previous day. After dinner at the steakhouse, we walked
along the shores of the marina and enjoyed watching the flying foxes (fruit bats as big as eagles). On our way back to our bungalow, we saw a small wallaby munching on the grass just across from our room! He was very skittish, though, and didn’t let us approach.
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