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The great escape to Australia’s Hamilton Island
Even laid-back Australians describe Hamilton Island as being the most desirable island escape destination. This atmosphere of relaxation is matched only by the tropical climate, breath-taking scenery and some surprisingly appealing restaurants and amenities. Occupying an area of approximately three square miles, it is the largest inhabited of Queensland’s Whitsunday Island group and lies very approximately, mid-way between Cairns and Brisbane. It is easily accessed via regular flights from those two cities and from Sydney and Melbourne. The airport at Hamilton Island is the only airport serving The Great Barrier Reef. So, it’s easy to experience the heaven on earth that is Hamilton Island.
Plotting a potted history of this island paradise
For thousands of years Hamilton Island was inhabited by the Ngaro Aboriginal tribe. Then, in 1770, Captain Cook stumbled across a group of 150 tropical islands. One of those was Hamilton Island. He named the group Cumberland Isles but the passage of time resulted in a re-titling to The Whitsundays. European settlers arrived in the mid 19th century and tourists started appearing in the 1920s. Accommodation at that point was in a series of metal huts. Thanks to the vision of Keith Williams and Bryan Byrt, things really began taking off in the 1970s; and in more ways than one. Charter companies began operating out of nearby Shute Harbour and the airport ensured that Hamilton Island was well prepared to accommodate the real swell in tourist numbers. It’s well worth raising a glass to the Oatley family. Australian winemaker, Bob Oatley purchased the island in 2003. Since then, the family has invested heavily in the island’s infrastructure. The result now includes choice restaurants and hotels, combining to create the slice of heaven that is today’s Hamilton Island.
Accommodation choices range from basic to fantastic
Visitors to Hamilton Island now find a pleasing range of facilities and accommodation possibilities. In addition to the picturesque marina; restaurants offer relaxed style dining with a real emphasis on fresh produce. Seafood dishes are a speciality in most eateries on the island. Cuisine choices are impressive and include Australian, Italian, Asian and Mediterranean. Bommie and Beach Club are popular restaurant choices and Bommie Deck has one of the island’s most appealing open air bars. It’s fair to say that, such are the restaurant choices on the island; you can enjoy a different cuisine every day of the week. There are houses and apartments that are available for rental, in addition to guesthouse and sea-view hotel accommodation. The financially flushed find it difficult to resist the privacy, seclusion and luxury of Qualia on the northern tip of Hamilton Island. The island, though, is full of options to suit all budgets and those regular flights from mainland cities ensure that its unique style, climate and scenery, are always available to all.
Treasure your time on Hamilton Island
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week takes place in August and attracts yachts and crowds from around the globe. Chefs, florists and artists supervise the activities of novices during the annual Weekends of Wonderment. Great Barrier Reef excursions, hiking and just lazing around in the sunshine are popular activities. Is it time for tee? Golfers are in for a real treat. There is a boat service to near neighbour, Dent Island and to one of the most challenging 18-hole courses in the world. The 19th tee is appealing too, with stunning views across the islands and the Coral Sea. Think ahead and request your space. The Dent Dash is part of the annual Fujifilm Hamilton Island Triathlon. This also includes the junior and senior Hamilton Island Triathlons. One of many positives relating to the fairly recent emergence of Hamilton Island as a tourist resort is that it has been in a position to diversify. Conferences and business events, for instance, are catered for superbly via the introduction of purpose built, in-house hotel facilities.
A time to relax, reflect and just watch
This is the perfect island setting from which to wonder at what nature has to offer. Hamilton Island is a natural habitat for wallabies, goannas, sea eagles, kites, ospreys, sulphur-crested cockatoos and kookaburras. At Wild Life Hamilton Island, there are even guided tours that include photo opportunities with the resident koalas. The island also hosts a range of creative and cultural activities. Guided bushwalking excursions take you to coves and beaches that you never knew existed. As part of the exercise, stop off at Passage Peak and stand in awe of the finest views that the Whitsundays have to offer. There are more wonders to behold with the annual visit of The Australian Ballet to Qualia. This pas de deux in paradise is staged in exquisite outdoor surroundings and augmented by drinks and fine dining. It is, for many, the perfect finale in the Hamilton Island experience. The calls of encore demand your own early and enthusiastic return to this island paradise.