The Whitsunday Islands are off the central coast of Queensland (click for map). They have been a popular holiday destination for many Australians and tourists from overseas for decades. The islands are ideally situated for those not wishing to go too far north and the associated airfares plus it offers great access to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The GBR is the largest coral reef on Earth and it’s home to an amazing collection of Australian native fauna and flora. If I hadn’t studied medicine at university I would have read my first choice, i.e., zöology and studied marine biology. I often joke I didn’t read zöology at university because I couldn’t grow a decent beard. At the time all the famous zöologists had big bushy beards. Maybe if I win lotto I can resign my job and attend James Cook University in Townsville and read zöology.
We nearly didn’t make it. On the Thursday evening before the trip Miss15 was at training and sustained a neck injury. She was taken to hospital in an ambulance and later released feeling very stiff and sore. She had hyperflexed her neck as a result of falling on her head at speed after a mishap at gymnastics training. I spoke with her a few times on the Friday from Canberra asking if she was okay and she claimed she could still swim and snorkel. I asked if she asked the attending emergency resident if she could swim and she sheepishly said no. I figured I’d assess her when I saw her. Given her physique and level of fitness I wasn’t overly concerned.
Friday was an interesting day at work. Something came up that needed urgent attention so my anxiety levels immediately rose. The last thing I wanted was to be recalled and not allowed to take leave. Fortunately I have very good bosses and colleagues and I was able to leave a little early to make my flight to Brisbane.
At the airport I indulged in a few chicken and leek pies at the Qantas business lounge.
The flight wasn’t too bad except I had to travel via Sydney. I could not get a discounted ticket direct to Brisbane and rather than pay $500 I elected to pay $399 for the fare between Canberra and Brisbane via Sydney. The cost of flying is significant. I’m not sure how the taxation on the emission of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and perfluorocarbon emissions and other gases into the environment will affect airfares, I expect they will rise dramatically. This will have consequences in terms of higher costs and reducing my flexibility to see my children.
On arriving in Brisbane my parents were happy to see me and I was ecstatic to see Miss11 and Miss15. Sadly I didn’t get to see Miss17 this trip. She had already had a holiday to Darwin to see her old school friends and was back at school. After a good chat and reviewing school report cards we went to bed early in anticipation of an exciting day ahead.
The next morning we readied ourselves for the flight to Proserpine (PPP) airport. We were flying Jetstar which is associated with Qantas so I was able to access the Qantas business lounge in Brisbane and we could enjoy a light breakfast. This yoghurt would be a sign of things to come.
About now I should mention that I captured a few hundred images on a variety of cameras. I’ve chosen a selection and uploaded them to Flickr as a set. You can view the slideshow by following the link here http://www.flickr.com//photos/garylum/sets/72157630503718798/show/ I suggest clicking on show info in the top right corner and selecting the slow play (under options) to read some descriptions I’ve added.
You can also see the individual images via this link http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAxq9L7 and click through them all to also read the descriptions. Please feel free to leave comments.
The Jetstar experience was really good. It was much better than my previous Jetstar flight to Hobart for work. I was able to use my iPad and read some Game of Thrones while having a soft drink.
The Proserpine airport is a neat well run small airport. The bags came off quickly and we were on our way through Proserpine to Abel Point Marina in Airlie Beach for our boat connection to Daydream Island. We arrived shortly before 1300 AEST and started to explore after unpacking. From our room we had a view of the water. The room was large and comfortable.
Miss11 was feeling peckish so we ventured to the Boat House Bakery and enjoyed a snack. Miss11 asked for a plain meat pie and was delighted to see the bakery brands the pies.
On the way to the south side of the island we came across a very cute rock wallaby (I’m guessing a Proserpine rock wallaby Petrogale persephone). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock-wallaby
The wallabies were plentiful and best seen at night and the early morning. Because of the rain I didn’t get any more good photographs.
After lunch we walked around the north side of the island and visited the three mermaids on Mermaid Beach.
While this is no demonstration of exercise, this link will give an indication of the geography of the island http://runkeeper.com/user/garydlum/activity/100125166
The resort has a lagoon water feature running through it. The glare even when overcast makes photography without a polarising lens difficult. I did get a nice image of an anemone fish in an anemone.
On the Sunday evening the resort had a seafood buffet. Need I say more! Check out the Flickr images. http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAxq9L7
While the prawns were fresh, the oysters had been frozen and the spanner crabs were not very fleshy. The baked coral trout was overcooked (this can be regarded as a crime against humanity for those who have enjoyed fresh coral trout) and should never be kept under heat lamps. The kids liked it though so I was pretty happy.
We spent a couple of hours in the reception area to allow our meal to digest (my dessert stomach, i.e., my œsophagus was quite full) while we listened to the band and the girls took advantage of the free wifi to download games to their iPod Touches. Back in our room I blogged a short post and then fell asleep in anticipation of Sunday. Snorkelling Sunday that is.
On Sunday morning we got up early and had our first resort breakfast. You can imagine it. A buffet of bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, hash browns, mushrooms, fruits, cold meats, breads, yoghurts, fruit compotes, breakfast cereals, tea and coffee and juice. Each morning I had basically the same thing, some eggs and bacon plus yoghurt with honey from a comb plus dates and fruit compotes. You can see the theme on the Flickr site. http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAxq9L7
The boat trip to Knuckle Reef takes a few hours on an ocean going three tiered catamaran. The weather was bad and on Saturday the trip had been cancelled. We boarded with about fifty school children from the USA on a People to people program http://peopletopeople.com/ The winds were around 30 knots and the sea choppy. We were all advised to administer ourselves sea sickness medication. I had already bought a packet of crystallised ginger and took two Kwells as well. In the shipping lane the water was really rough and we were rocking and rolling all over the place. Passengers were falling off their seats and many people were going green and the look of nausea was common. On the trip back it was worse and most of the passengers spent the entire journey out the back making room for afternoon tea and saying g’day to Ralph. It’s a pity because the lunch they served us was delicious. Miss11 and Miss15 slept through most of it. They were happy with that except on the trip back we had a pod of Southern Right whales alongside the starboard side and I saw one breach the water and almost jump right into the air. Only the end of its tail was in the water. It was a wonderful sight, yet my sleeping beauties missed it.
We spent nearly four hours on the pontoon at Knuckle Reef. The pontoon is operated by Cruise Whitsundays http://www.cruisewhitsundays.com/ The pontoon has attached to it a flat bottomed boat, a semi submersible vehicle, a helicopter pad, an underwater observatory and platforms for scuba diving and snorkelling. It also has a cool water slide. The website has all the details. It’s worth a day out to do this.
Photography in the semisubmersible and in the flat bottomed boat isn’t very good because of the glass. Not only is it thick but it’s not cleaned very often. On Sunday the general water visibility was poor. The tide was high and the particulate load was high. Most coral in the area is brown and without flash lighting the images are mostly of poor contrast. That said I captured some reasonable images and have put them on the Flickr slideshow.
The highlight for me is snorkelling. I love being in the water. Water sports for me are the epitome of athleticism. The feeling of being in and underwater is difficult to better. The thought that I would take Miss11 and Miss15 out into the water with me and dive down to see fish and coral has been keeping me going for months. I’d been so looking forward to this small period of time. I wasn’t disappointed. Miss11 had fun. It was her first time and she was a little apprehensive. The water was really cold and using the snorkel for the first time was a little confusing. If we’d had time we could have practised in a swimming pool. Miss15 loved it. Even with her injured neck nothing was going to stop her. She swam on the surface and learnt to dive and blow water clear of her snorkel like a professional. I just loved it. If I could be a super hero I would be Aqua Man or Marine Boy.
This is a short video clip of a large wrasse that is well known to the Cruise Whitsundays marine biologists and diving instructors.
The trip back was quiet, the girls slept, I saw a whale and most of the passengers were hurling their lunch over the back of the boat.
That night we enjoyed the carvery. We slept well that night.
Monday morning came and we were greeted with steady rain and strong winds. We had hoped to go snorkelling off the beach but the weather was against us. We spent the morning playing a marathon game of Monopoly and after lunch ventured to the resort pool and had a splash in the cold water. Fortunately they have a few heated spas and we enjoyed warming ourselves in those. Later in the afternoon we played cards and thought about dinner options.
With the rain falling all day we wanted to go to the south side for dinner at the Fish Bowl Restaurant. We were issued plastic ponchos and caught a ride on a gold buggy.
For me a really good hamburger has pineapple and beetroot. I wasn’t disappointed. I also had my first dessert pizza which was a slight let down. I think if it had been lathered in Nutella I would have been happier. That said it was a good day.
Tuesday morning came and we had hoped for a fine day to walk around the island one last time. The rain was heavier and even though we saw some wallabies it was not walking weather. So we ate breakfast and packed our bags. We spent most of the day on a boat, in a bus and in an aeroplane. We flew back Virgin Australia which was also really good. We had individual screens and I could watch the Food Channel. It made me think of the kilograms I had added to my weight. I now need to reduce my food intake and increase my exercise schedule.
On the way back I checked-in on Foursquare and became the mayor of Proserpine. I’m not sure how the real mayor would feel about that. During the weekend I also because mayor of Daydream Island most of the other places there too including the resort itself.
Daydream Island resort and spa https://www.evernote.com/shard/s183/sh/43112f7a-c9b1-4adf-9ba8-3ae09030a4cd/c66798f1c45fb4d00231c5a66cb074ef
We got back to Brisbane in time to have some of Mum’s chicken curry. That capped a delightful holiday for me, Miss11 and Miss15.
Just in case you’re interested, staying at the resort is expensive. They have to ship everything in. You pay for what you get. I am fortunate that I could save for this by putting away some money every pay day. We didn’t buy gifts or souvenirs. We didn’t go and do fancy things or hire sporting equipment. It was expensive but worth it just for the smiles on the girls faces. I have wonderful daughters who are gracious, generous and always grateful. It was a holiday to always remember.
- Daydream Island (garydavidlum.com)
- Rainy day on Daydream Island (garydavidlum.com)
- It started on Daydream Island (taotaomagazine.wordpress.com)
- Travel pic of the day: Daydream Island (travellersoul76.com)
- PM says Brisbane standout choice for G20 (news.theage.com.au)
- The long awaited Daydream Island blog post (garydavidlum.com)