Australia: Visiting Three Queensland Islands
Three Queensland Islands in Oz: Lizard, Hamilton and Fitzroy
By Kent E St John
Islands are a strong pull for me, a strong enough pull to fly to the other side of the world from my home in the Hudson River Valley of New York.
The fabled Great Barrier Reef was a part of my decision but the chance to sample some of Queensland’s Islands sealed the deal.
I discovered three islands that were totally different from each other in every way but for the sheer delight they offer.
Queensland has always been a targeted place on my must-see list, and it didn’t disappoint. Flying by small planes offered unparallel vistas of ocean and reef. Snorkeling opened up my eyes while huge blue clams and bounties of tropical fish passed by as if I followed Alice into the rabbit hole, a wonderland indeed.
Queensland offerings are amazing and facts such as 1500 species of fish and 360 species of hard coral on paper may sound academic.
As one lucky enough to have visited, I assure you that Queensland will stir your heart and leave you with lifelong memories.
The World’s Best Job, Hamilton Island
Upon arrival on Hamilton Island I was given a tour of a very special villa, one that was once the home to the winner of the best travel marketing campaign ever launched.
To win, a one-minute video was submitted stating the reasons why the applicant would fit the bill as caretaker of the island. The response was enormous. The PR fallout was magical. The winner did his time and had a blast!
Hamilton Island is one of the most built-up islands of the many that dot the coast of Queensland, and commercial jets fly in. This is the island that fits if a bigger resort setting is what you are looking for.
Best on Hamilton are the many options for the type of stay you want, lux to high-rise to bungalow all at varying costs. Qualia is the super deluxe option and lives up to its title, private plunge pools anyone?
At Reef View Hotel my lodgings were spacious with wonderful views of the sea and island. Self catering bungalows are also available.
No matter what your lodgings, the island is open for all, and the fact that the island is part of the Whitsunday Islands is perfect for standard activities such as sailing, boarding or resort activities.
My favorite choice was the chance to get a seat on a charter seaplane that fit in a stop at the fantastic Whitehaven Beach, a bit like James Bond would do.
Bond, perhaps, would have passed on an early breakfast while hugging koalas but the restaurant choices in the village would have drawn him. A koala hug and it was time to head to Lizard Island.
Playing a Rich Robinson Crusoe, Lizard Island
Private props fly to Lizard Island, one of the finest hideaways in the world. In fact Hinterland Aviation only makes two flights a day for the 60-minute trip from Cairns.
My bungalow had a stacked fridge with anything needed by a desperado who just might be related to any Rockefeller. Is there anything better than lux done laid back?
Primitive can be stylish and on Lizard it is done well; put your wallet away, slip into your flips. The biggest decision is which of the 24 beaches I will need to check out in the morning.
For divers there's the amazing Cod Hole, snorkeling the Horseshoe Reefs was fantastic and I was mesmerized by the giant Blue Clams just off of the island.
After a busy day of island options, meal time in the Osprey was a highlight. This is no all-inclusive buffet nightmare, this was chowing nirvana. The choices were all superb and local ingredients. Order a second dish, yes here it is acceptable.
After dinners meet the other guests in the bar, top-shelf choices with no bar bill. Not to worry -- the next day can be spent just chilling, that's what all the local lizards do.
Better yet, make an appointment at the Azure Spa, though to feel relaxed on Lizard it is more of an afterthought.
Home Away from Home, Fitzroy Island
It is new and was really under going a shake-down when I visited, but the Fitzroy Island Resort showed real promise. Of course when you are the only resort on a national park, the future looks bright.
The Gunghandji aboriginals from the mainland used to use Fitzroy as a place for spiritual retreat. The island’s future however looks like a great spot via a quick ferry ride from Cairns. Day trippers included.
The resort has all types of accommodations from hostel to apartment style. My well-appointed one bedroom had a complete kitchen and sitting area.
The washer and dryer made me feel that a few days here would be perfect place to rest during a long trip through out Queensland.
Water sports dominate the choices but a one-mile walk through rainforest to Nudey Beach is a must. The small white sand beach is a perfect put-in for a snorkel back to the resort along the coast.
Nude beaches are not common in Queensland and Nudey isn’t one. If your time is limited in Queensland, Fitzroy is a blend of all you might see in Queensland all wrapped up together.
And the Winner Is...
One of the best public relations launches I have ever witnessed was the 'Best Job in the World' one done by Queensland. Thousands of people from around the world entered 60-second videos to apply for the job.
The job is to spend six months based in a beautiful villa on Hamilton Island while exploring the rest of beautiful Queensland.
Blogs and accounts will be posted and the winner, Brit Ben Southall, will have his hands full.
Queensland has so much to explore. While I covered three islands, there are hundreds to see. Not to be missed are Queensland cities such as Cairns and Brisbane. In fact Queensland has jumped from my must-see list to the must-return one.
Queensland Tourism has a very comprehensive website to plan your own island explorations. The varied links will give you everything needed to plan sights, stays and natural wonders. Interesting facts also fill out the offerings.
My Three Island Visits:
While all offer the natural beauty and fine weather of Queensland, Hamilton, Lizard, and Fitzroy are all different and unique. Each has its own style and attractions. Plan according to your lifestyle and wishes. Queensland has something for everyone.
Kent St. John was GoNOMAD’s Senior Travel Editor since the website was founded in 2000. During that time he circled the globe many times, visiting more than 80 countries. Sadly, he passed away on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. He had an appreciation of subtleties, always finding a way to capture the nuances and essences of a destination, whether he was whale-watching in Nova Scotia, riding the rails in Australia, bungee jumping in China or worshipping the sun on a beach in Brazil.