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

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Sailing away on a sea of dreams....

Our last three days on Hamilton were about dreams. Watching them, imagining them, living them. On Hamilton Island, dreams have a way of becoming reality. Clichéd? So very, but then this is Queensland, the sunshine state, the state with a golden coast and a ‘can do’ premier…. And as the Hamilton Island slogan goes: “Where in the world would you rather be?”

Earlier the evening prior we’d watched the superyacht ‘Ubiquitous’ berth at the Marina. 34metres of sheer luxury commanding centre stage, it was amazing to watch it’s bulk (196tonnes!!!) be manoeuvre amongst the other beautiful (but no-where near as big) watercraft with the finesse of a ballerina and settle ‘just up from’ another incredibly stunning piece of craftsmanship – the “Spirit of the Maid”, or - as some of us ordinary folk who take the barest of fleeting interest in ocean racing, that is once a year on Boxing Day – the racing maxi formerly known as “Nokia”, the Sydney to Hobart 1999 winner (who won it in an astonishing record feat of 1day 19hours & 45minutes….oh and 2seconds). I know new years resolutions should be considered some time near the end of the year and declared on New Years Eve, but as I stared at these floating fantasies and dreamed a ‘wouldn’t it be nice’, I made my belated resolution that in 2014, I would learn to sail! I declared this to Big M who snorted and replied dryly, “You do realise you’ll have to do more than hug the hull and getting wet will be part of the deal.”

Next morning the boys were up early and gone. They were on a mission, something they’d eagerly been anticipating ever since we’d booked the flights – FISHING. They were champing at the bit, keen to throw a line, sit for hours cooking in the sun and hopefully come home not just smelling a bit fishy, but to actually slap a fish on the barbie. After looking at the differing charters and unable to agree on one (they all looked great) and then unable to decide if they wanted full day or half, they settled on booking a dinghy and have the freedom of getting lost amongst the coves. It was also thought it’d be a good idea too that if they came back early, then Big M could take GG and I out for a quick zip across the waves.
Meanwhile, whilst the boys worked on getting a lobster red glaze (the heatwave currently hitting the southern part of Queensland was on the move – northwards) GG and I decided it was time to indulge in a little retail therapy…. but more than anything, I was eager to wander the art gallery and check out the work of two of Australia’s finest marine and seascape artists - Greg Wardle and Trevor Platt, both currently “artists in residency” at Hamilton Island. I was blown away by the abstract vitality of Greg’s fine brush strokes of his sails and rigs paintings and absolutely fell in love with his mesmerising swirling underwater scene in ‘fish n trips’. And the glowing effervescence of Trevor Platt’s 'Jellyfish series' (a mix of oil and resin on canvas) took me to another world. Stunning and incredible, these pieces not only ‘flowed' from the canvases, but actually glowed in the dark. But the most beautiful crème de la crème is Platt’s oil “Whitehaven at Sunrise”…. It’s like looking at a photograph. And talking about photographs…. one could never click a bad photo at the Whitsundays, though I must say, the resident photographers of Hamilton Island are in a league of their own with their work – the photos of the Islands, the reef and of Heart Reef are amazing and one just cannot help but take one home. Of course right at this moment I didn’t have a spare grand or so for an original Platt or Wardle (they are however on my list) and so I settled for a delectable Kerry Sea Designs scarf by Mackay artist, Kerry Alexander. Echoing the essence of the reef and it’s marine life, the patterns are so incredibly vibrant.
Before we knew it, the afternoon had fallen upon us and a pair of proud ‘hunters & gatherers’ returned. The smile couldn’t be wiped from Big M’s face as he paraded his Trevally for all to see. It had been an excellent morning of fishing with lots of ‘catch and releases’ happening and the sighting of two large turtles.
It was GG’s & my turn for a putter-about around some of the shore line, so whilst Bud scaled the fish and undertook ‘daddy’ duties, Big M took us out along the southern western side of the Island, past the airstrip and Dent Island and down past South West Head towards Crab Bay.
This side of Hamilton is in sharp contrast to the north and north-eastern side for unlike the wide sandy shores of Catseye Beach or the undulating valley where qualia rests, South West Head was a formation of sharp cliffs and rocky volcanic outcrops flanked in pines, gums and cycads. It’s sharpness announced the wild side of Hamilton Island. As we turned into the inlet of Crab Bay, once described by the developers back in the seventies as a “shallow and unattractive area”, I could see clearly the underwater rocky fringe lying in wait to catch a wayward boat and her unsuspecting skipper, of which I could safely say Big M was close to becoming as he was busy gazing in awe at the cliffs. My yelp and the soft scrunch of hull meeting seafloor had the reverse being thrown into full throttle. “Whoops,” was all the comment made. Once a large inlet, a considerable amount of the bay had been reclaimed for the construction of the airstrip and a couple of lakes, but I failed to see any of the ‘unattractiveness” - under the cloudless skies, the coral beds and fringing reef ‘shimmered’ in the crystal clear water.
Back at the Marina, as we disembarked from the dinghy, I spied the flotilla of Sunsail yachts and literally swooned. My sigh of “Oh my god I so want to do that” was so loud it caught the attention of a crewmember and he invited GG and I to go aboard and have a looksee. Two seconds aboard the monohull has confirmed my resolution to learn sailing this year and in the office collecting information for future ‘sailing holidays’….
Wandering along the ‘main street’ we meet up with ‘I.S’ and he offers us another little tour and this time we find ourselves buggying down ‘millionaires row’ and exploring the church. Hamilton Island ‘hosts’ over 400 weddings a year (along with a number of christenings and naming ceremonies) and the All Saints Chapel is one of the most sort after spots to declare the “I do”. It’s quite obvious why…. It’s adorable!
As the sky turned to a burnish gold, we raised our glasses to toast Hamilton Island - “Sometimes, there really is no other place in the world, you would rather be.”
As we stared out over Catseye Beach and the iridescent blue sea, I say to “I.S”, ‘Your office view is amazing, any jobs going up here you know of?’ To which he turned to Big M and replied “I’m looking for a mechanic, interested in a flyin-flyout?’
Our mouths are watering and stomachs growling as we eagerly anticipate the catch of the day, the Trevelly… It’s so large it won’t fit in the oven or completely on the BBQ – the tail needs to be cut off. Slathered in lemon and pepper, wrapped in foil, it is baked on the BBQ – 15minutes into the cooking the gas runs out. A frantic phone call is made to the villa manager and another bottle is delivered. But crisis is not adverted, this bottle also runs out five minutes after being connected, and there’s not another available bottle according to the manager. Big M tries to light the oven, but it won’t even flicker. More phone calls, no help, the fish is going cold. Frustrated I’m about to hack this sumptuous fish into frypan size pieces when Big M disappears next door and begs the neighbour for their BBQ bottle. Thankfully theirs is still full, but unfortunately they’ve already eaten and have to turn down our offer to join us for the feast (or maybe they thought it’d be safer not to try a fish that took nearly an hour & half to cook).
It's funny how quickly things can turn, especially the weather! Friday dawned hot and gusty. Extremely gusty! Outside our balcony, the gums thrashed and creaked, threatening to snap. The cockatoos screamed and careened in their flight. Below, out to sea, the waves were choppy and the blue had become a slate with white tips. Big M received a phone call. It was the Seaplane people notifying us that the landing on Whitehaven Beach part of our tour would not be taking place because of the wind conditions. It's possible the seaplane might be able land at Chalkies Beach. I was crushed, having waited so long over the years to do this trip and now the ‘icing’ wasn’t going to happen. It’s not a cheap tour to do and we debated over justifying of the costs with not getting the ‘full experience’. Before we could ring them back to say yes or no, we received another call. There would be no landing at all, the whole two and half hour trip would be being scaled down to the one hour flight. The difference in cost is only $50.00 With great reluctance, we decided to forego it this time. ‘On the positive side’, I declared, ‘this means we have a definite reason to come back to Hamilton Island.’
But going to Whitehaven wasn’t totally out of the picture yet and we went down to the Marina to see what cruise tours still had spots available. None. All were fully booked. We could get on the afternoon half day tour with the larger ferry company but later, upon chatting with a person who’d just come off the morning tour, we vetoed it when we were told that the beach had been ‘meltingly hot’ and it had been like being ‘sand blasted’ with the northerly gusts that were whipping the area. As the day continued the heat became intensely unbearable and we found ourselves seeking out the air-conditioning. The day was not lost however for we had a beautiful consolation prize at the end. Our villa had come with a sunset cruise voucher and originally I had decided to give it to Bud and Gorgeous Gal as Big M and I had cruised into the sunset on our previous trip to Hamilton. Unfortunately for Bud, after his day of fishing, he had woken this morning stiff and sore and barely able to move and so they reluctantly gave the cruise back to us.
On the Edge’ is a commanding catamaran, one of the largest in the area at 20metres in length and was specially designed for the Whitsundays. Although it takes 60people (including crew), there was only about thirty people all up for the cruise and so it was as if we were having a very private intimate cruise with friends as everyone began chatting and laughing, helped along with lots of bubbles and liquid ambers. Big M took a liking to the Great Northern Brewing brew which is made in Cairns (an ‘Old’ man through and through, it was quite something to see him happily accepting this pale ale).
The sail was unfoiled and the Cat skimmed effortlessly across the waves taking us across the northern tip of Hamilton, past qualia and the tiny island, Fitzalan, that sits in the strait to the east of Hamilton Island (which during the low tide times is quite an interesting sight to see from the One Tree Hill lookout as it appears to have ‘rapids’ forming in it) and past the wide mouth of Gulnare Inlet on Whitsunday Island. This inlet looks to be a favourite of the overnight boaties as there were a number of yachts settling in for the evening.
As the sky turned to a burnish gold, we raised our glasses to toast Hamilton Island - “Sometimes, there really is no other place in the world, you would rather be.”

No comments:

Post a Comment