"Hamilton Island in the sunny Whitsundays" Top 5 Page for this destination Hamilton Island by lindyz
Hamilton Island Travel Guide: 143 reviews and 417 photos
This was our first BIG family holiday, apart from close-by holidays and several holidays to the Gold Coast. I think Georgia was in kindergarten, so she would have been 5, Andrew was 10 and Ben was 12. Needless to say, we all had a ball here. The temperature was hot, very tropical with not a drop of rain.
On Hamilton Island, your biggest decisions will be:-
1/ which pool to swim in today???
2/ which restaurant to eat at today???
Oh what a difficult life we lead! This is generally a "relaxing holiday" and that we did. We did the big day-trip out to the Great Barrier Reef to go snorkelling. Frank and the boys loved it, but Georgia was only young, she tried it but got very scared, so she and I spent the whole day just chilling on the pontoon.
This pic is Frank and I overlooking the main Hamilton Island bay called Catseye Bay, and it was taken on our first trip in 2001. As you can see it is indeed a tropical paradise, sun is shining, sky is blue and water is magical. This was a fantastic holiday, but unfortunately it was pre-digital days and I dont have too many good snaps from it.
Hamilton Island still offers over 70% of natural uninhabited bushland, and has over 20km of scenic bushwalking trails for the avid bushie. It is also home to many Australian native animals and birdlife.
Hamilton Island can be explored in either of 3 ways ~ on foot, by golf buggy or by using the free shuttle bus services. Golf Buggys are available for hire for either one hour, 3 hourly, half daily or overnight.
There is definitely something for everyone to do on Hamilton Island. It has its own Shopping village, commercial Marina, many restaurants, bars, a nightclub, takeaways, sports complex, pools, and relaxation centre. It is the only island in the Whitsundays with its own airport and therefore makes it the ideal base from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef, local waterways and surrounding islands.
I STILL BELIEVE THAT THE ATTRACTION OF HAMILTON ISLAND IS PURE RELAXATION AND ESCAPE FROM THE REAL WORLD ... WHERE YOUR BIGGEST DECISIONS ARE WHICH POOL TO SWIM IN TODAY, AND WHICH RESTAURANT TO DINE IN TONIGHT!!!!!
I had booked a mini-getaway for Frank and I to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, 3 nights on "sunny" Hamilton Island, a few weeks earlier than our actual anniversary (to avoid the double price airfares in the school holidays!)
Boys were staying home (will we have a house to come home to?) and Georgia was staying at a friends house. We got to the airport, checking in and the lady is looking very confused - "Do you realise you havent purchased any baggage allowance with this fare?" Apparently, when buying airfares on line, there should be an option somewhere for you to purchase your baggage allowance, I booked our airfares on Expedia but never saw such an option. Anyway, the baggage purchase was $10 for every 23kg and luckily our 2 suitcases combined were 23.1kg so we only had to pay $10.
On the flight up, we were rather puzzled as to why the plane was only about one fifth full - we had no idea why .... but we were soon to find out!
We arrive on Hamilton Island, its humid but not hot and not much sunshine, but thats ok - we are away from the kids and the real world for 4 days - just relax and chill woman!
This was our first holiday away from the kids in a very long time, we had short overnight stays in Sydney occasionally, but I think it would have to be about 15 years since we had gotten away for more than one night.
Upon checking into our apartment, we were informed of an imminent cyclone!!! I knew of the cyclone off Fiji so I assumed this is what they were talking about - BUT NO .... APPARENTLY THERE WAS A NEW CYCLONE WHICH WAS AT THAT STAGE ABOUT 600KM OFFSHORE ... CYCLONE ULUI!!! At that stage I was thinking that if it was that far offshore that it would fizzle out before it reached us .....
After checking in, we had lunch at Sails Restaurant then walked down to the Marina, stocked up on groceries and alcoholic refreshments! Back to our room and then we decided to do what seems to be something people JUST MUST DO! It was low tide so we donned our swimmers and aqua shoes and swam out to the small island. Im not sure why people do this, because it is merely a small rocky island with a few trees on it ... but anyway, we did it!!! Then back for a swim in the pool, shower and into the Marina for very yummy pizza at Manta Cafe.
Now, we had noticed some businesses in town taping up their windows and doors, and that was when we realised that maybe we should start worrying about Cyclone Ului!!! At this stage, it was not terribly windy, however by the next day ....
Saturday ... the wind had picked up big time, the skies had grown dark and the clouds were quickly rolling over. More businesses had taped up their glass windows and doors ... but we attempted not to let this worry us.
We hired a golf buggy for the day from 8.30am-4.30pm for $70 and we basically just hooned around the Island all day on that. We had hoped to go to the One Tree Hill Lookout for cocktails at sunset, but had been told that we would go into lockdown in our rooms at some stage today, so we figured we may NOT be allowed out by 4.30pm!!! So ... we took our bottle of wine and buggied on up to the lookout sometime mid avo. By this time, the wind had really worked up a swirl and it actually blew out the front windscreen of our buggy, Frank had to go running down the hill to rescue it before it blew off the cliff - that was rather funny at the time!!!!
Lockdown was to be from 8pm that night, so we were actually given ration boxes of food - FOR FREE!!! One each for Saturday dinner and Sunday brekkie. The cyclone was due to hit Hamilton Island around midnight and we were right in the path of it, with speed and intensity increasing rapidly. We were never worried, as we were told all buildings were cyclone proof, it was morbidly rather exciting, but at the same time annoying and frustrating as it meant we would not get to do any trips, either to the reef or Whitehaven beach. The only 2 days we could do these would have been Saturday or Sunday and all reef trips were cancelled both these days. Oh well ... there is always next time!
Attempted to stay awake long enough to see it cyclone on through, but I think I went to bed at about 10pm ... and then slept through it rather sadly :( I do remember hearing the wind howling outside and then it seemed to stop, start up again and stop, but dont remember hearing anything that resembled a cyclone. Apparently, Hamilton Island received the strongest wind gusts of the cyclone, around 202kph ... and when we woke up the next morning to see the destruction, that wind speed seemed plausible.We awoke about 7am and opened our curtains to mass destruction. We were still on lockdown with no word of when we would be allowed out of our rooms. From our balcony we could not see any structural damage, but lots and lots of wrecked palm trees and pools filled with chairs and palm leaves. The huge marquis in front of our apartment on the beach had its tarps wrecked, although the steel frame was still in tact.
At about 11am curiosity got the better of us, we went down to reception, they said we were still in lockdown ... but we snuck out!! Just walked down to the beach, along the beach and up to the main pool area, it was very sad and an absolute mess. At this stage of the day, the Marina was still blocked off, so we could not walk down there to survey the damage.
Residents were cleaning out the pool in front of our apartment all morning and by early afternoon, swimmers were there, attempting to salvage some of their holiday,as I did later taking my jumping shots!
On walking around the bay and the marina that day, we could only see minor structural damage ... but lots and lots of tree damage. Huge trees looked as if they had seemingly been plucked out of the ground with ease, either with roots in tact or snapped completely off at the base (as is the case with the tree in this picture) It will take crews weeks to clean up the mess and get this place back to normal. By Monday morning, heavy machinery had been brought in along with chainsaws to cut trees. The Police, Fire Brigade and SES workers were also working tirelessly to clean up this tropical paradise. There appeared to be no boat damage down at the Marina here, but news footage showed much damage on the mainland, mainly at Airlie Beach. More structural damage on the mainland, but thankfully, we heard of no injuries or casualties.
There was really not much else we could do for the remainder of our short time here. All beach water activities were closed, trips to the reef cancelled, so we just chose to chill, eat at lovely restaurants and just enjoy our time away from the reality of home.
Spending our 25th wedding anniversary on Hamilton Island ... along with Cyclone Ului ... was certainly an anniversary to remember!
- Pros:Great relaxing family holiday in the tropics
- Cons:Can work out to a rather expensive holiday
- In a nutshell:"Fun in the Sun in Oz!"
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