Monday began with half of us gathered in the dark at Wollongong and the other half would meet later at Sydney Airport as some of the group came from as far afield as Canberra and Nowra. The main freeway from Wollongong was blocked due to some major accidents but we weren’t about to let this slow us down as one of our local guys knew a convenient back road, a little bumpy but still on track and got us there with time to spare!
As we all got together, Virgin Airways gave us the rockstar treatment with priority check-in and we were first on the plane; Who needs those business class tickets and frequent flyer miles, not the Trusted Travel crew! As we were headed to the famed Whitsunday Archipelago which is sprawled across one of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, we couldn’t expect to get there in a single flight. Our first flight was to Brisbane Airport; like Sydney, one of Australia’s busiest airports, a great flight but pretty normal intercity. The second flight however went from Brisbane to Proserpine, a small regional airport near Airlie Beach. Now this was an interesting flight, incredible scenery on the way in, islands and tropical wonderland as the far as the eye could see. The Virgin Airways crew kept up the great service, and due to the small airport size, most of us were a little jealous as 2 of our guys with accessibility requirements went with Virgin staff into what looked like a space shuttle simulator and transported directly down from the plane while the rest of walked down the external stairs to the tarmac. From Proserpine, we travelled to our base at Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, what a great place to stay, and the weather was perfect… More on that later.
Tuesday was a big day, breakfast then out to Airlie Beach Marina and a cruise to Hamilton Island. What a day, perfect weather, good company and amazing scenery. Hamilton island is a leisurely 1-hour cruise, and on the way we passed Daydream Island, our destination for tomorrow. Once on the island we went on a scenic bus tour and stopped off at one of the many resort pool areas, and had a look around. Some of us got back on the bus and some of chose to walk the scenic route before meeting together again for a great lunch overlooking the bay and out to the horizon, littered with islands and the occasional ship. After lunch, we decided to see the Hamilton Island Zoo, a pleasant walk from where we had lunch, but while the setting was wonderful and staff helpful, we started to wonder whether we were really at a zoo or at a Madam Tussauds. We saw the largest crocodile up close any of us had ever seen, it had its mouth open but it wasn’t moving. We saw some dingoes but they sat far away not moving, we saw a few koalas but they sat still, looking the other way. But then we started to notice the birds and lizards in other places moving, one of the koalas turned and looked at us, we started to notice the tongue moving ever so slightly on the crocodile as evidence of it breathing before it moved quickly when it was feeding time, and a young lady pushing a pram past the dingo enclosure was enough to see them jump to attention and move to the front of the enclosure. We did some souvenir shopping before enjoying the cruise back and went for dinner nearby at a location recommended to us highly by the locals, it was great.
Wednesday was exciting, we would be getting up early again and heading to Daydream Island. More great weather, another fabulous ferry trip this time a shorter ride. On arrival, we were greeted by island staff, and all given a wonderful shell necklace and information about the island including to beware of the local Curlew population, traditionally nocturnal birds that have adapted to wondering in the daylight to get human food. Daydream Island is spectacular, it’s only 1km long and 400m wide, but kangaroos and wallabies roam freely, and the living reef runs in and around the buildings full of fish, rays and even sharks. There are a variety of bars and entertainment facilities, and even though we had many great lunches and dinners on this trip, the Daydream Island food was the very best-tasting and hardest to choose what to eat from the menu. While we were eating, we were visited by the local curlews, a strange looking bird with a head a bit like a kookaburra with bigger eyes and supported by skinny emu legs. They are quiet until they get annoyed with you, then they make a sound like a jet taking off, we guess this is their way off telling you to get far away, now.
Thursday was a more leisurely pace, we spent most of the day around our adventure park base. Before breakfast, we visited the park’s farm, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks and more, they were all being fed and we got to participate, great fun. After breakfast we spent time on the waterslides, in the pools, playing Putt Putt, even a small bit of tennis and table tennis before having lunch, but not before those that accepted the challenge were filmed getting the park’s giant water bucket dumped directly on their heads. As this was our final night, we headed into Airlie Beach for another great dinner, this time with live music. We all found ourselves in awe of the stunning sunset. As soon as it was dark the fire dancers and trainee fire dancers came out and put on a show for us all to watch. We finished off with a late gelato and headed home.
Friday morning there was time for some of the group to do some more souvenir hunting while some stayed to relax at the park, before heading to the airport. Once again, Virgin looked after us and we watched as some of our group used the space shuttle simulators to enter the plane and the rest of us walked up the stairs. Two flights later we landed in Sydney Airport, said our goodbyes to some before driving to Wollongong with the rest. A wonderful holiday.