The Whitsunday Islands

By Arthur Bensley

This year Carol and I are celebrating our Golden Wedding. A special year for us both. We decided to start off our years celebration with a holiday on Hamilton Island, this is one of 74 tropical islands in the Whitsunday island group, midway between the tropical coast of Queensland and the Great Australian Barrier Reef , and a one hour thirty five minutes flight by jet from Brisbane airport. The first day of June, which is the start of our winter over here, was also the day we landed on the island around noon. The air temperature was 27 degrees Celsius and the water temperature was 25 degrees, not bad for winter! The Reef View Hotel has high rise apartments, ours was on the thirteenth floor. ( Lucky for some !) We had great views across the water to the coral reefs, also to other islands. It was pointed out to us , that on leaving the apartment , make sure to close the balcony door, if not, at the first available opportunity, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo’s of which there appears to be hundreds, will hop in and help themselves to your sachets of sugar, plus biscuits etc! Crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets, appear to be all over the islands.

Carol & Arthur with feathered friends on their balcony

Hamilton attracts many celebrities. Property sales seem to be booming. The late George Harrison’s house is for sale. A bit out of our reach! On the second day we hired the islands main means of transportation. A golf buggy. There are hundreds of these, and it appears private cars are not allowed on the island.

We were lucky enough to meet a very nice couple Vicky and Ken Jobe, who were on a three week holiday from Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham. They had, like us, snorkeled in coral reefs, in different parts of the world, so we teamed up and on the 4th June, went to the Coral Gardens by fast launch Wild Dream, from the Dive shop. The Coral reefs were teeming with multi colored tropical fish .This plus the fact that the warm tropical air was filled with hundreds of colored butterflies, made it difficult to know if one should look up or down ! We then headed for Whitsunday Island , which is the largest island in the group. Here we had a pit stop and imbibed iced drinks & biscuits. before heading back to base , a memorable trip for us all.

A day on out on Whitehaven and Chalkies Beaches

Island Transport

Carol on One Tree Hill. Hamilton Island

After our pommie snorkeling pals Ken and Vickie left for England via Singapore, we still had a couple of days left before we headed back to reality, so booked a half day on Reef Ryder. A rigid inflatable vessel which went like a bat out of hell! Leaving at 1-30 p.m.We landed on Whitehaven Beach at 2 p.m. Reputed to be one of the ten best beaches in the world. I can assure you, this would be correct. The pure white silica sand and clear water has to be seen to be believed. Trevor one of the two crew, told me how he invites visitors with gold

jewelry to pass items to him ,and he washes them under the sand just off the beach. They are returned sparkling like new. (I always check with the owners to make sure none of the stones in their rings are missing before hand said Trevor, just in case!) I was told one young lady, on the last day of her honeymoon was swimming off Whitehaven and on returning to the hotel, realized she had lost her wedding ring. She was so upset, so the next day the boat crew returned to the beach and dived in and found her wedding ring and posted it on to her.

After leaving Whitehaven Beach we sped off to Chalkies Beach , here we donned masks and flippers and Carol and I went out into the deeper water with Trevor, who called me to say he knew where a Lion fish was hiding under a Bombie, or coral outcrop .I dived down and there it was, looking at me from under the coral, lovely to look at ,but don't touch.

Poison in their fins can kill. Carol and I also swam with a large Turtle which suddenly appeared amongst the beautiful coral formations.

Carol and Arthur on Whitehaven Beach

Trevor - Hamilton Island Water Sports

7th June 2003 with two Coral Trout, considered the best eating fish in the coral reefs of Australia

Well here I am back home on the Gold Coast. This was a great holiday and both Carol and I, hope my readers have enjoyed this article of a trip to tropical Queensland.

Arthur.E. Bensley



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