Overnight stays: Island Gateway Holiday Park, Airlie Beach (2 nights); Lagoon Lodge, Hamilton Island (4 nights);
Islands are the best!
No matter where you go, islands just seem to do it better… Ilha Grande in Brazil; Corsica in France; Sardinia in Italy; Spain’s Menorca; and The Whitsundays here in Oz 🙂
Sitting in the tiny town of Prairie, in central Qld, after just over a week in the outback, we decided we’d had enough of the dust, flies, and egg water. So at that moment, hearing from varying sources that Hamilton Island was a special place, we booked the last room in the forthcoming fortnight. The only catch was that the booking started the day after next – time to get our skates on.
Leaving at the crack of dawn the following day, we knocked out our longest driving day to-date, totalling over 560km in 8 hours. And we couldn’t have been more excited to be back on the coast, in Airlie Beach. Just like our longest driving days back in 2012 with Betsie in Europe, nothing washes off a big day better than a refreshing swim with the sun shining.
After Liv wiped the floor with us in mini-golf (seriously), and a feeding of the local parrots, we packed our things and got excited for our holiday from a holiday.
We had been told by a few people that Hamilton Island is a bit special. The weather, outlook, water, golf carts, rooms, service – it all adds up to a unique place to unwind – not that we had that much to unwind from 😜.
Golf carts for days
Our first impression didn’t disappoint. Personally welcomed off the boat, and handed the keys to our golf cart, we sped our way around the island, exploring what all the fuss is about. We soon realised that the getting around in your own golf cart is part of what makes it so special.
It is the primary mode of transport on the island, which seems weird at first, but very quickly becomes the norm, with cars and pedestrians looking out of place after a few rides.
This part of the world had had an ordinary summer, wetter than the slippery slope of expense we were heading down with such a luxurious stay and no income. But we literally turned up on the second sunny day all season, and it remained so for our entire visit ☀️.
Our accommodation, although not as flash as the mighty WomBatmobile, couldn’t have been better – a massive two-bedder apartment overlooking the south-eastern end of Catseye Beach. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the view, with birds aplenty joining us throughout our stay.
We decided shortly after arriving that Hamilton has to be an annual destination for us, for a family weekend away. It’s so easily accessible, and is utter paradise.
Most of our time was spent in and by the plethora of pools behind Catseye Beach, or admiring the endless views around the island. Without doubt the best view is watching the sunset from One Tree Hill with the scores of other punters whose carts have all barely made it up the steep accent from everywhere.
The only things on the island that don’t appear to be relaxed are the Curlews, those lanky kookaburra birds we first spotted on Straddie. Mate… at night when these things get going, they sound like a kindergarten classroom being held hostage, and taken down one by one. Their shrill screams are petrifying when you have a child in the next room, continually checking to make sure she’s okay.
Watershed wombat moment
Speaking of Baby Wombat, we had a proud parent breakthrough at Hamilton that we’ve been looking for for years. She finally has the confidence to swim unassisted. Sounds minor to many, but this girl is more cautious than a one-term government, and likes to do things in her own time. Our patience finally paid off when she voluntarily ditched the floaties and doesn’t want to see them again, happy days 😀.
SUP with the fuss?
Standup Paddleboarding is all the rage, and has been for the past few years. Seriously, what is all the fuss about? We tried it out on Catseye Beach, and there is nothing enjoyable about these things; nothing!
Actually, I’m lying. Watching others standup paddle board is one hell of a way to spend an afternoon. Not only did we entertain each other, taking it turns tumbling, but I’m sure we would have entertained the entire island, had they not been climbing back on board themselves 😂.
My brother-in-law, Marcus, recommended the walk to Passage Peak as an island must-do. And with our last day looming, I left the girls for an hour or so to check it out.
Having done minimal exercise in the past week or 10 years, I decided to try and reach the peak as quickly as possible, by running where I could. I made it 100m from the top, and had to rest before my heart exploded out of my chest – those stairs are brutal!
It was all worth it at the top, with almost 360′ views of the Whitsundays, just as James Cook had in the 1770s.
Unfortunately we left our shoes in the WomBatmobile, so I was exploring in my thongs – this made things difficult for two reasons, primarily on the return leg:
1. My feet were sweatier than a financial planner facing the Royal Commission. This meant I was sliding around in my thongs on a steep descent – not recommended for hiking.
2. The steep slope meant I was putting unnecessary pressure on the single plugs at the front of the thongs, increasing the risk of blowout.
The return trip took me just over and hour, and was well worth it.
We’ve all heard about it, seen the photos etc. But when a Beach is rated so well, how could it possibly live up to the hype? We’ve had our beach hopes us at various times on this trip, only to be disappointed – Dreamtime Beach was terrible, as was Burleigh Heads.
But when you turn that corner in towards Whitehaven Beach on the boat, all adjectives go to the back of your throat – it really is paradise; better than the photos and expectation.
Whitehaven shot straight to he top of our list of beaches for the trip so far, and even into the top 10 we’ve seen in the world, right there with those of Mexico, Cuba, Sardinia and Corsica.
The sand is a deliciously chalky white, and the water is as blue as Colin Miller’s hair in the nineties.
We opted against the stinger suits here, as none of the staff seemed that serious about it, despite being technically still in stinger season. But we made it though, without a bite, and feeling on top of the world, with the perfect Beach ending a perfect four nights of holidaying in paradise.
Now, back to the luxury of the WomBatmobile…