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.”

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.


Thursday, 9 January 2014

"Beautiful one day...” Bonza the next! Floating on Hamilton Island time.

Sunnies – check; bikini – check; flip-flops – check; big hat and over the top bag – check..... portacot – Big Tick!
Port-a-cot...  What the??? I hear you say.   
Well I’m delight to announce, the ‘Babymooners’ have become proud mama & papa and Big M and I are over-the-moon rattle-shaking gaga-grandparents.  And as the now Go-go Grandma and Poppin-off Poppy we’ve become, we’re bundling up our brand new little grandbubba, Peanut (along with her parents – Bud and the Gorgeous Gal) and floating off to the tropical paradise of Hamilton Island to welcome in the new year of 2014.   I can’t wait to show Peanut all the delights and excitement of travel and introduce her to this amazing world we live in.  What better way to start, then to take her to one of the most beautiful places in Australia – The Whitsundays – a cluster of over 90 islands scattered along the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. 

I first visited the Whitsundays thirty years ago where I spent my 18th on the (then) party island of Daydream.  7glorious days (and probably only 7hours of them sober) of island hopping sundrenched beaches and floating above coral gardens. 
 Our last visit to the area was a long 7years ago when we welcomed in the new year of 2008 on Hamilton Island.  We’ve been dying to get back.
As the plane descends towards the island’s airstrip the first thing that hits me is the colours – Blue.... the most amazing shades of blue – from the air, the water is a blending of indigo, turquoise and aquamarine that melds into the crisp celestial blues of the sky. These hues sparkle against the incandescent golden beaches that fringe the dense, lush greens of the islands forests. I’d almost forgotten how brilliantly vibrant the Whitsunday’s palette can be.
Peanut has traveled well, not a peep from her during the takeoff and landing and  along with her parents, Big M and I proudly tell her what a good little baby she is as we disembark from the plane, amidst the wails of other babies and toddlers.

We’ve rented a private villa for the week and at the airport, we wait for the representative to meet us. Time ticks away and we watch excited holidaymakers jump onto cute little golf buggies and whiz off over the hill to their resort rooms and villas. Others board the large ferry cats and head off to the other island destinations – Long, Daydream and Hayman. Finally, almost an hour after touching down, our representative appears to collect our luggage and give us the keys to the golf buggy we will be using for the next week. She explains our villa is not quite ready yet – another hour or so she says and suggests we pop into the village for a bite to eat. We don’t need to be told twice, our tummies are having a bit of a growl (we’ve been up since 4am and breakfast was nothing more than service station fare) and besides we now have our own buggy and can whiz around the island to our hearts delight.

First stop is the village.  Hugging the edge of the Marina, Hamilton Island’s village is the sweetest little cluster of buildings peppered with aromatic restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and all the necessary little stores required to make a holiday enjoyable, including a bakery, which we find, has the freshest mouthwatering croissants for an indulgent breakfast every morning. The bakery also has the most delicious panini’s which fills us up perfectly for lunch.   We then take a buggy ramble around the island, happily re-discovering the steepness of the hills and the giggling excitement of almost sliding off the buggy’s back seat. It’s decided then and there that whoever has Peanut gets to ride in the front passengers seat.

Finally (a good two hours plus late!) we receive the call that our Villa is ready and we are delighted to find it has the most spectacular view. Facing the north west of the island, we over look the lush gardens of the six-star resort “qualia”.... yes, small q, it is that exclusive! and every evening we will be mesmerized by stunning sunsets over Whitsunday Island, Henning Island and a sweet little island named Plum Pudding. Our villa is beautiful. Four split levels, well appointed and luxuriously furnished it has everything possible going for it.... except for the management! Unfortunately, the cleaning of it is little more than a broom wave and tea towel wipe and we are to find hot water is sparse and using the expansive balcony at night  will be by romantic torch beam, as the light doesn’t work.

Leaving Bud & GG to settle in and nestle down Peanut, Big M and I buggy off back to the airport to organise a ‘bucket list mustdo’ – a seaplane flight over Heart Reef and landing on Whitehaven Beach. This is something we’ve wanted to do for such a long time, but during other visits to the island, the cost and time constraints (but mainly cost) had been prohibitive. Now it is finally going to happen. Turns out this activity is very popular and is booked out 5days in advanced, no seats until our last full day on the island – Friday – so we promptly book into the morning session and find we’ve scored the last two spots.
Then with beaming smiles we head off to the Yacht Club for a sunset cocktail on its cantilevered  terrace that stretches over the Marina.  The  building is stunning and has been referred to as the “Opera House of the North”.  Built about three years ago, from the air it resembles a manta ray; the terrace its tail, the main building, the rays pectoral fins. From ocean level, at night lit up, it looks like a cruise ship and by day, the silhouette of a whale (just narrow the eyes a tad...  Big M and I sip our drinks and watch the first of what will be a week of spectacular sunsets. From this vantage point we watch the sun dip behind Dent Island (which ‘houses’ Hamilton Island’s amazing golf course) as it sets the sky aglow in a vibrant pink. 

The next morning the raucous chorus of cockatoos, screaming and screeching, frolicking in the gum trees that surround our villa greets us. There are tens upon tens of them, a stream of brilliant white flashing across the brillant blue of the sea.  Below our balcony, a wallaby with young in pouch nibbles on tussocks in the bushland garden and further along a skittish juvenile goanna runs under the building next door. Big M and I head off for an early morning walk – one look at the hill climb towards One Tree Hill lookout has us turning at the first ‘intersection’ street and we amble down Island View Way towards Point Henning, ogling at beautiful privately owned homes of luxury proportions with incredible water views to match. But what goes down must go up and so at the elbow-turn of the road we find ourselves huffing and puffing our way up to One Tree Hill where we are rewarded with stunning 360degree (almost)  views of Hamilton Island and her neighbouring islands.

I love the name of the street that runs from One Tree Hill to the resort turnoff - Great Northern Freeway! It’s probably all of three meters wide and less than two km long, but this is a Freeway indeed. At this early time of the morning, it is packed with joggers, including one chap who is running with a backpack.

We decide to spend our first full day on the island taking advantage of the Resort’s facilities, that is lounging under big shady palm trees reading and taking the occasional plunge in the pool – our most difficult decision is which pool... the Resort has four magnificent to-die-for pools.
As we walked down to the village centre (a coffee from Marina Cafe was #1 on the list to do) we receive a phone call from a chap we’d met on the plane up. “I.S” has the dream job; he manages, maintains and sails beautiful sleek yacht cruisers to wherever in world for a handful of clients....  and he loves books. That is how we came chatting.   He and Big M had organised to swap books and so “I.S” met up with us. As we approached his buggy he indicated for us to jump in and took us for a personal tour of the island, giving us a peek at quaila (a by appointment only resort) and pointing out the homes of the who’s who, including the former home of George Harrison.

Later that day as we lounged by the Bougainvillea Pool we received a call asking us if we’d be interested in ‘tagging’ along on one of the cruisers to Turtle Bay, a cove on Whitsunday Island. How delighted we were, only to become crestfallen when we were told it would be on Friday.... the day of our sea plane trip.  

As we lounged and sun-bathed and debated about whether we should take a hike to Coral Cove and check out the views of Lindeman Island, Bud and GG got active and undertook a swing at a few balls at the golf driving range and then dashed off on a helicopter hot-lap of the Island. Then it was time for sunset viewing at One Tree Hill followed by christmas light oohing and arhing along the Great Northern Freeway.

The next day calls for a bit more activity so Big M and I decided to grab a catamaran and whip across the warm coral waters. Unfortunately, my desire to boat the azure blue is not matched by my bravery.... or should I say, my complete lack of gumption.  Mind you, the signs dotting the beaches also don’t help one iota!  Beware of stingers they warn.  Actually, they scream : Irukandji !!!  then tell you to limit your swimming to the Islands pools during the summer months, which one can safely say, January is smack middle of ! So for the hour of our hire, I spend it screaming at the top of my lungs for Big M to not let the Catamaran tip and to not sail it so fast. Unfortunately, his weight along with force of wind does not bode well with my smaller frame and most of my time is spent hugging the bow for dear life with the hull flying high out of the water. It becomes a very quick hour as the cat is whizzed across the waves, turned around and deposited back to shore... all within fifteen minutes. Big M then returns to the villa and I, to the Marina foreshore where I will spend the next couple of (long) hours drinking coffee, staring at beautiful watercraft and wishing I am on one.

However, the visual beauty of Hamilton Island is like soothing music to the soul and one cannot remain annoyed for long, and so Big M returns with the buggy chariot and we trundle up to One Tree Hill to join the hordes of sunset cocktailers and cuddle under a fluorescent sky.

And just as well we’ve made up, for tonight is New Years Eve -  my favourite festive day of the year. I am not a Christmas girl. I find no joy in decorating trees with tinsel and wrapping boxes of ‘stuff’ that will most probably collect dust in forgotten corners of cupboards. I adore the welcoming in of new beginnings and sharing the beat of dancing feet to joyous music.  Hamilton Island is one of the great New Years Eve spots in Australia – with music vibes playing in various locations around the island, inviting you to tap away.  And topping it off with two lots of fireworks displays.
We all gather early in the eve to enjoy a delicious meal at the Manta Ray Cafe – pizza and pasta that’s just too delightful! Unfortunately, in the busyness of the restaurant our drinks order gets a tad lost on the way to the table and our 'here's to the new years' cheers are toasted with a number of carafes of water
Afterwards we wander down to the foreshore to listen to music and await the first round of fireworks. At 9pm they explode - on the other side of the Island and although we can hear them popping off with incredibly loud bangs we can’t see a thing. We rush for the buggy (as fast as can be possible with a babe in arms) and buggy along at top speed -10kms per hour - to the lookout over the resort. The smoke is clearing just as we arrive and a constant flow of buggy lights flash our eyes as they pass us on the way back down the hill.   I console myself with the anticipation of the midnight fireworks, but for Bud and GG, they are new parents and take Peanut home for slumber. 
Big M and I head down to the main street where a rocking street party is underway and we get swept up in the sax and trumpet beats of the My Ty’s, a funky ska/reggae outfit that was a Triple J Unearthed band.  They go off!   At midnight the countdown is celebrated with a 15minute lightshow of fireworks over the marina, lighting up the boats and setting colour to the yacht club. 
Welcome 2014.... it’s going to be a bonza year!