Here we are at Hamilton Island, smack bang in the middle of the Whitsunday Islands. Being here feels a little like coming full circle as it was in the Whitsundays that we first caught the sailing, scuba diving and all-things-boaty bug (bugs?) on our honeymoon back in 2002. It was, in a sense, the beginning of the journey that has brought us back via 4000 nautical miles and more than 10 years.
You can stay in the marina
here for $105 per night which is really expensive as marinas go but -
here's the clincher - you have full access to the resort facilities.
Cocktails by the pool for us!! (Well, mocktails for me, but I can
pretend...) When others are paying many hundreds of dollars per night,
even thousands, we feel a bit like we're cheating but then our whole
lives feel a bit that way these days... We keep expecting someone to come along and tell us its not allowed and we have to go back to reality!
OK, a quick recap of the last few weeks. Our short stop in Mackay was much longer than planned as the weather came in and we couldn't seem to motivate ourselves to battle strong winds and choppy seas. This QLD cruising is making us soft! Oh well, it gave me a chance to break the back of a work project and Michael to do some much needed painting and boat projects. We were also able to scope out a nearby boatyard where we will most likely haul out Bass Voyager and leave her over the summer while we're off in Adelaide having a baby.
Finally we sailed from Mackay about 20 miles north to Brampton Island. Its a very picturesque spot with a public jetty and walking trails around the island, however it had an eerie atmosphere as the resort on the island is all boarded up and off limits - another apparent casualty of the struggling QLD tourism industry. From there we stopped for a few days at Goldsmith Island, another beautiful anchorage with none of the uncomfortable surge and swell that we'd come to expect in the southern islands. The tides are getting smaller as we head north and that seems to make a difference to the comfort at anchor.
With strong winds in the forecast we scoured our cruising guide for the area and chose nearby Shaw Island as a place to hole up for a few days. Its an excellent anchorage, again totally swell and surge free, even in developed trade winds. Just a few of the notorious Whitsusnday "bullets" (where the wind rockets down the gullies and makes the boat dance around the anchor for a minute) to contend with. Not in any great hurry to be anywhere, we settled in and waited for the weather to improve. All the other boats in the anchorage seemed to have the same idea and, like us, not many seemed inclined to get off the boat while the weather was so blustery. We did manage to do some exploring on land though, and as you'll see from the photos below even "bad" weather in the Whitsundays is pretty spectacular!
A few hours north of Shaw is Hamilton Island. We expected the worst of Hamilton and so have had our expectations exceeded by quite a lot. I had this image in mind of a noisy, over-the-top resort stuck in the 1980s, probably run-down because of the GFC, and horrendously overpriced. Instead its very tidy, beautifully landscaped and ... dare I say it ... fairly classy as these things go? Perhaps I have been away from civilisation a little too long...
Generally we like to eschew the crowds and built-up resort-iness of places like Hammo but after a few weeks getting back to nature we get a real kick out of the opportunity for a restaurant meal and a bit of people-watching. Plus there is an awesome bakery here and we were also able to get an order from Coles sent over on the ferry saving us having to go in to Airlie Beach for another few weeks.
Tomorrow we'll head out again and bum around the islands for the next week and a half before we meet family in Airlie Beach!
Views around Brampton Island
Whale near Goldsmith Island
Views of beautiful Shaw Island
Rare picture of pregnant Caitlin. Back-burning a few weeks earlier made it possible for us to climb a hill for spectacular views over the anchorage.
Checking out the facilities on Hamilton Island
Spot salty old Bass Voyager among the superyachts at Hamilton Marina.