Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Whitsunday Isles Trip -- July 2000

Sunday, July 16. We had switched rooms in Brisbane from a dark cold room to a great room that had sun all day long so for the last 4 days I had been sitting on the balcony of our room soaking up the rays. Sunday afternoon we headed off to a birthday party for one of the ballerinas (Justine Summers) at a "retreat" up in the bush southwest of Brisbane. It was an interesting lodge that reminded me of Montreat a little -- except Australian!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday July 17-19. Monday morning we went back to the airport and flew up to Hamilton Island and then took a Jetcat to Club Crocodile on Long Island. The Whitsunday Islands are very effected by tides. I would guess that the tides are about 12-15 feet. It's not the Bay of Fundy but still every 6 hours all of the beautiful beaches becomes gigantic and rather unattractive soggy sandbars. I could see that from the airplane flying up but it didn't really sink in until we got to the resort and the tide was all the way out. The resort itself was fine, a little geared to young people but there was a broad range of people staying here. The food is lacking in flavor and diversity somewhat but ok. Miranda attributes it to the fact that we are very spoiled with where we usually stay and the food we usually eat! She's probably right!

The weather has been really fantastic. For a week before we left Brisbane it's been fabulous. It's a little cool at night but after about 10am it warms up to 65-75. The water is about 70 degrees.

We took the first two days to settle in, tried not to do to much. This morning (Wed) I went for a very expensive water ski but it was worth it as I haven't really skied in years! Long Island is a National Park so everything that is not the resort is bush land filled with kangaroos, wallabies, billy-goats, red-necked black turkeys and other interesting creatures. Miranda and I have taken several long walks (4-8 miles) on the paths through the park. The views off to the other islands through the trees are spectacular.

Thursday July 20. We took yet another jetcat to South Molle Island to pick up a few more passengers then headed out toward the Great Barrier Reef. The trip was about 90 minutes at about 30 miles an hours, so about 40 miles out to sea. The ocean was incredibly placid. The only waves were the ones that the boat was making. There weren’t even any ripples from wind. It was like the Lake of the Ozarks early in the morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the ocean so calm. Along the way we saw several humpback whales breaching. They were quite far off so we didn’t get a good look. We got to the area of the Reef (Heidi’s Reef, it’s called) were there was a permanent platform set up. The boat docked and all got into little glass-bottomed submarines for a quick tour. The fish and colors of coral were unbelievable. And there were so many different varieties. We got back to the station and got on our snorkel gear and eased into the water which was only about 68 degrees so not warm! We did a little snorkeling but got cold and headed back in for lunch. Afterwards we braved the sea once again and for some reason it was warmer – there were “warm spots” and “cold spots” – so we were able to swim for about an hour. The sea was so calm and had been for several weeks that the visibility was about 50 feet. We swam along an underwater bluff where the most beautiful coral grows. So to the left was the reef built-up to just below sea level and to the right was a cliff sometimes descending into blackness. All over the cliff face were giant clams, borrowing clams, stag, brain, fan, and about a 1000 other types of coral – all different colors some fixed and some waving in the current. Fish of every imaginable shape, size and color were everywhere.

They called everyone back to the station and got us organized for the trip back. On the way back more humpback whales were cavorting at the surface of the calm sea and we went right by them – amazing – flukes, dorsal fins and tails up out of the water all about 100 feet away. They were young so not massive but still impressive. Friday July 21. The resort office was eager to sell a 1, 2 or 3 island tour. We settled on a 2 Island tour which included Hook Island with an underwater observatory and Whitsunday Island and the fabulous silicon sand of Whitehaven beach. Hook Island is in the shape of a pitch fork and really should be called Trident island. There is a narrow passage between Hook and Whitsunday Island through which whales often pass. We didn’t see any this day but we were assured they did pass just before we got there. The whole area is national park land. There was a little underwater observatory which put you at floor level of the “fringe” reef. They feed some fish off the dock (not sunperch!) some of which were about 100 pounds and all were rainbow-colored. We decided not to snorkel as it was still early and a little cool. So we sat by the little pool and soaked up some sun. It was rather fun because the pool at the resort is completely shaded all day long (great design!) consequently devoid of guests. (The hot tub here, as with hot tubs at every Whitsunday resort are all “waiting on a part coming from out of the country.”) Next the boat headed to Whitsunday Island which was only across the little strait but we were headed down-island a little to where the beach was. It was well worth it. The sand was pure white and soft. And as it was pure silicon it wasn’t hot. We stayed there for about 90 minutes before we headed back. Both Miranda and I thought we could have just taken a boat directly to the beautiful beach, been dropped off and picked up about 4pm. The water was a little cool but the sun was so warm that it didn’t really matter.

Saturday, July 22. We decided to do nothing today just hang around the resort and sit in the sun. However we did have a helicopter ride around the islands that was part of our package. That was fun. Neither of us had been in a helicopter. We went up about 1000 feet and around several of the islands and back. Then we did a little wind surfing and canoeing and after that took a picnic lunch to a deserted beach for several hours. Well, we thought it was deserted until a man and his two sons in a fishing boat pulled up and beached not 20 feet from us. This particular beach was about a mile long so they were a little close for us. I waited a few minutes to see what they were going to do but when they got their fishing lines out and started to cast I walked down to the water and jumped in and swam vigorously for a few minutes. Miranda, who was laughing from her spot on the beach, said that the fishermen were looking over at me with amazement. They packed up and left soon afterwards. We had champagne (Crocodile Tears”) in the evening looking at the sunset from our balcony.

Sunday, July 23. Today we truly did nothing save a short walk around the north end of the Island and Monday the same. Monday afternoon we caught a boat to Hamilton Island and the first plane out to Melbourne.

No comments:

Post a Comment