From Uluru, we arrived in Hamilton after six hours of flying and an overnight stop in Sydney. What we arrived to could not have been more different than the Red Desert.
Hamilton is one of the Whitsunday Islands, a group of isles located in the Great Barrier Reef on the North East coast of Australia. It is a stunning location and feels like an exclusive exotic hideaway.
The island itself is very small at about 3.5km by 2km, but that does not stop it from offering an airport, a quaint harbour town and a number of resorts. We stayed at the main hotel, Reef View and this was the view from the room.
The island is owned by the Oatley family and run by one resort company (Uluru resort was similarly owned by one management company). You might think that this might lead to lax standards, given that it is effectively a monopoly, but it was in fact the opposite was true. Standards were very high, all staff were excellent and the facilities second to none. The island tries to be car free (or at least very few), so the transport of choice for many are the golf buggies that are available for hire. We used the free shuttle bus which does a full loop of the island within about 30 minutes, so you can see we are talking very small.
We caught some lovely sunsets at One Tree Hill where there is a great bar to sip a cocktail (or mocktail) as the sun gently fades.
We also did a bit of sunbathing for one of the days (something that we rarely do) and found it to be hot, hot, hot. It was about 31c, but at 85% humidity it felt a lot hotter.
The wildlife and bird life continues to be wide and varied here. We had plenty of the Sulphur crested Cockatoos around as they flocked around the hotel and were very good at spotting an opening to a hotel bedroom and causing chaos. There were signs all over warning guests to close windows and not to feed the little darlings. We had one come and visit us on our balcony, just in case there was something on offer.
The other bird we met for the first time this trip was the Rainbow Lorakeet. The bright plumage of the bird is spectacular.
It made us wonder what is the difference between a Lorikeet and a Parakeet – or a Parrot or Cockatoo for that matter. Well they are all a species of the parrot family. Parakeets and Lorikeets being the smaller sub species. The key difference between the two is that Lorikeets are pollen and nectar gatherers and have a tongue designed to do this, where as Parakeets are seed eaters.
We also visited the Wild Life Park which is a sanctuary and educational centre for Australian wildlife. It was our first close encounter with Koalas which are the most cute little animals you can imagine. They move slowly and sleep for up to 22 hours per day. They are extremely fussy eaters, only eating the freshest leaves off the Eucalyptus tree. They are also extremely specific about which Eucalyptus leaves they will eat, as there are many species, but they will only eat one of eight native species of the tree. Hamilton was hit by a major Cyclone in 2017 which devastated the island. The Koala’s were safe in their cyclone-proof housing, but all of the leaves were blown off the eucalyptus trees on the island. As they won’t eat leaves that are not attached to branches they had to be flown to the mainland to ensure they had a regular food supply, until the food supply on the local trees could re-grow.
We also met some Bush Wallabies which are very small and quite curious as you can see with this little one who was wondering what I had In my bag.
It was a unique and enjoyable experience on the Whitsundays and we would love to return to this charming island again. However it’s onward and upward now as we fly on to Brisbane.