Feb. 20, 2018:
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your patience! I left you dangling in Queensland, Australia, but our journey didn’t end there. For those of you who are curious, I’ll try to finish the story now.
Yesterday (Feb. 19th), we bid a fond farewell to the Spirit of Freedom and her crew in the port of Cairns. Then we went back to the Cairns Hilton, where we basically spent all day by the pool in the shade resting and reading after our vigorous dive trip (and having laundry done). At dusk, we had fun again watching the resident bats (thousands of them) take flight across the skies of Cairns.
Cairns at Dusk
This morning we flew to Hamilton Island (about an hour’s flight from Cairns), where we are staying at a super resort called Qualia. We’re still just off the coast in the northeast part of Australia, and the closest coastal town to us would be Airlie Beach. This island is probably the most developed in the Whitsunday Islands archipelago located at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The whole island was owned and developed by one company, Hamilton Island Enterprises, which probably explains why there is no piecemeal or junky development here. HIE still owns most of the property and about 97% of the businesses on the island. They even own the tour boats, which go out to the other islands, the reef, and the mainland. The island was pretty hard-hit by a cyclone about 18 months ago, but it is amazing how little reconstruction remains to be done.
The resort where we are staying is a real gem, and features individual units positioned so most of them look out on the channel between Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Island. Surprising, the island is fairly large, but cars are essentially forbidden here so everyone gets around by golf carts (“buggies”). Upon checking in, Jim and I were issued our own buggy for the duration of the stay. Since our room wasn’t quite ready, we hopped in and took off the tour the island.
Right outside the resort is the highest point of the island, which offers some stunning views! Photography bug satisfied, Jim and I lingered a while at the cute little bar/café located there. I ad a blast watching the resident cockatoo strut around. It turns out that there are hundreds of them on the island. Then we returned to the hotel to enjoy a quiet afternoon at our little casita gazing out on the channel and reading.
This evening, we enjoyed a fabulous meal down by the harbor at the restaurant for the yacht club which is called Bommie. As you might guess with our proximity to the ocean, the menu was almost entirely seafood oriented. It turned out to be one of the best meals we have enjoyed here in Australia and we were blessed to have amazing service, as well.