The World is an amazing place .... go and be in it

Saturday, 11 January 2014

I’m a Daydream believer....

Just as every other day so far on this glorious island, in this amazing part of Australia, New Years Day dawns bright and vibrant.  We’ve been extremely lucky, as the temperatures here have been a pleasant 29 to 33degrees, whilst the rest of Queensland is in the grip of a heatwave.  Even the humidity levels haven't been too bad. And it should be the wet season here, but as we stare into crystal blue skies, there’s not a cloud on the horizon, not even a whisper of one. 

Over breakfast, we debate what activities we might do – there’s so much to do on Hamilton Island, not to mention the rest of the Whitsundays, but we’ve ruled out going to the Reef. 
“Sacrilege!”  I hear you gasp.  What other reason is there to come to this area if not for the Great Barrier Reef.  The world’s largest coral garden, one of the Seven Wonders of the World!  How dare we not even consider a trip to it!!!!    Fear not – having spent many joyful Christmas & New Year’s holidays over the last 30years in the Whitsundays,  we have snorkelled, scuba dived, glass bottom boated and submarined this beautiful reef.  During our last trip here we’d  spent a glorious day floating in the warm waters of Hardy Reef taking in the wonderment of the many fish and sea life, feeling dwarfed by the huge coral gardens and falling under the  mesmerising spell of ‘George’ the enormous, fabulously vibrant  giant Gropper who rules of this area of the reef.  When we weren’t floating, we were wandering about the enormous pontoon stationed on the reef; munching on a sumptuous lunch, watching the helicopter flights take off and gazing into the Underwater Observatory. There is nothing like the Great Barrier Reef, it is simply stunning.... and yet I am sad to say, despite this incredible beauty, the coral bleaching was so evident it cannot be ignored.  There were great swaths of white coral gardens, rising out of the seabed like ghostly haunted gravestones.    Still we will not miss out on the reef even this time for we are eagerly anticipating our seaplane trip in three days time.

The ‘what-to-dos’ today are bandied around the table – an ATV tour, a whiz around the Go Kart track, join the Buggy Rally scavenger hunt or perhaps a cruise & tour to Dent Island to explore the golf club - this is knocked on the head by the boys as they don’t feel like getting ‘fancypants’ on day 1 of the new year.  But an Island hop is not out of the question and so we pack a picnic lunch and board the ferry cat to Daydream Island.

 Daydream Island played a huge role in my younger years.  It’s where I turned 18 and had my first adventure. Eager to travel, I didn’t have a fear in the world back then.  I fell upon the island, not knowing a soul. My travel agent had booked me a twin share, with the thought I’d perhaps meet a travel buddy,  but I ended up having the room entirely to myself. Not so the Island, by time I waved it goodbye seven days later,  I'd met and partied with everyone!  Back in the eighties, it was the party island, owned by 'Mr Resort' Jim Kennedy (who also owned the Resorts of South Mole and Tangalooma), and managed by the flamboyant and very effervescent hostess Sybil Harrison, the Parasol Princess of the Whitsundays.  I remember the first moment I stepped onto Daydream, this incredibly glamorous woman in white flowing pyjama suit, enormous spiral shell ring and parasol held high greeted me with a Lei and said “Darling you’re in for the most wonderful time.”  She was so right.
Me in 1983.... oh to be so young again
Back then Daydream boasted the largest swimming pool in the southern hemisphere, the prettiest little secluded  (if not) risqué beach, coral gardens within inches of the shore and a happening nightclub to rival any on the mainland! Ahhh, I so remember the Down-Under Bar so very fondly......   

Today Daydream is the ultimate kids resort, overflowing with families. 

We arrived mid-morning where I find the Lei greeting is still happening for those who are staying on the island.  Over the years, Daydream Island has changed but one thing has remained, its reef.    Ringed by shell encrusted shores and coral beds just off the northern beach, there's an abundance of marine life and this is where one can see the GBR’s beauty without needing to take an hour-long boat trip to a pontoon on the outer reef.  Daydream  also boasts an internal living reef, where kids and ‘big kids’ alike can keep dry and yet still see the coral up close, handle a sea cucumber and be tickled by  sharks and stingrays.  We head straight to the living reef lagoon, eager to catch a glimpse of the resident stingrays, Pancake and Pikelet, but find they are not in the pools nearer the resort’s atrium.  Instead we watch fascinated as a large shovelhead ray ‘stalks’ the rim of the pool.  He’s enormous! 

Daydream Island is in two parts.  The accommodation suites and wings are on the Northern end of the island, hugging the stunning pools and spas. On the South end is Daydream Village, where we intend to spend the day lounging and playing.  The two areas are separated by a large tropical rainforest, which we happily explored last time we were on the island. I distinctly remember the copious birdcalls and as we walk along the boardwalk to the ‘village’, I can hear the calls once again.  The Curlew's are the loudest.

Despite the gentle heat of the tropics the last couple of days, today’s heat is starting to bite.  We can feel the intensity of the UV rays and so we find a grassy knoll under a huge tree (Poinciana I think – gorgeous!) and set up our picnic.  Just next to our knoll is another huge pool filled with Stingrays, sharks and colourful coral fish.  We’re in luck! It’s feeding time and we’re invited to take part, which becomes even more wonderful when we discover the rays are Pancake and Pikelet - they are huge!  One doesn’t have to ask Big M twice to feed a ray, last time he did this (in Malaysia ), he ended up having it ‘chewing’ his arm almost to the elbow!  (Note of point, Ray’s don’t chew, they suck... hungrily)  Big M was on the platform, elbowing the kids out of the way (only joking, though at one stage I had to tell him a little fella behind him wanted a turn) and was practically lying with  head in the water playing with the ray.

One of my favourite things about Daydream is its very kitsch 19hole mini golf course.  A short tour of anything Australiana, we played a boisterous game, me constantly losing my ball in the water – right from the first swing (another pretty pink bauble for the shark/ray pool right next to the course)....   and Big M showing off his putting skills by meeting par way too many times for my liking.  Of course we won’t mention the cheeky moves I took with the ‘well defined’ surf-lifeguard on the Gold Coast hole or Big M getting his revenge on a certain ex-prime minister and how we really wished the almost lifelike Birdsville Pub really did serve lifelike tipples... the day was really heating up! 

With the barometer rising and finding Castaways Tavern closed (actually we note that quite a few of the shops in the village were closed, which was a bit of a shame), there was no other choice but to make headway to the main resort area to find those lifelike drinks and plunge ourselves into the gorgeous lagoon pools that run the length of the resort.  As Big M, Bud and GG dived into their drinks,  I wandered back into a dream of days past, walking along the coral and shell encrusted beach, staring across to South Mole Island – remembering a tipsy catamaran marooning (and rescuing) on her north-western shores – and ‘hear’ the sirens call, “next time, don’t wait so long to come back”.

Yes, how wonderful it’d be to hide under these blue skies with a siren as she sings and “the six o'clock alarm would never ring”.... I am a Daydream believer.


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