Wed 17th to Thu 18th Nov
Most people look forward to their holidays for months, and count down the sleeps until The Big Day. We’re not too good at that and find that all of a sudden it’s just a few days until take off and nothing is packed. I have a packing list that has served us well for years so all we need do is follow orders and usually find ourselves packing about 12 hours before we fly.
This time was no exception; we packed in the morning and zipped up the cases about 2 hours before leaving home. Mum had come to house and dog sit for us and we did the usual – drove to David’s parents’ home to leave the car and then catch a taxi the short distance to the airport. As soon as we set foot in the taxi the holiday has begun and the excitement hits.
We left Perth airport at 10.55 pm as scheduled, crossing Australia for the who-knows-how-manyeth-time, and landed in Brisbane, having slept very little on the plane, at 5 am. And, oh goody!!!, a 4½ hour wait until our flight to the Whitsundays. There had been no choice in this. The apparent backwater of Perth never seems to have any flight that meets nicely with connecting flights to anywhere so we accepted our fate and sat around. Because we’d had to change from Qantas to JetStar we were also burdened by our luggage for the first 2½ hours until we could check that in again so initial thoughts of scooting into Brisbane on the train for a decent breakfast were quickly dismissed.
Sticking our heads outside the airport we found it to be not only cold and wet but also there were smokers around so we went back inside in a hurry. I tried to have a bit of a sleep but was not successful and thankfully, at last, we could get rid of our bags and go get scanned and enter the nicer waiting area.
For some unknown reason I began to feel really sick as well, to the point that I sent David to get some bags for me rather than stand endlessly in the bathroom, living in dread of having to come out to catch the next flight. He had to ask a hostess and she had apparently run down to a plane to get them so I can’t say I wasn’t cared for! I tried lying down but that made it worse so I just sat there feeling tired, queasy and miserable and trying not to share that with David. Eventually it was time to take my next travel sickness medications and I prayed they wouldn’t make a reappearance!
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Then it was time to board the JetStar flight and I’m very happy to report that once I was in something moving I felt well again. The short 90 minute flight to the north west was bump, bump, bump from start to finish; nothing hugely turbulent, but constant for the entire flight. And the view was nothing but clouds until we were well into our descent. Finally we could see lots of verdant green, hilly islands bobbing in the grey ocean just off the coast of Queensland and, as we fast approached one, we dropped down over the ocean only just getting land beneath us in time for the wheels to hit the runway. Ahead was more ocean but the plane pulled up in plenty of time before we had time to worry.
We got off at the back of the plane, down metal stairs, and followed the queue of other passengers across an extended marked zebra crossing/pathway to the small airport building and the clouds above drizzled on our heads.
Baggage claim was easy and as we went out of the airport to its verandahs we saw various desks for different resorts and felt the slight chill of the wet air. Looking at all of the desks there seemed to be every resort except for our own until we rounded a final corner and there it was, snuggled at the back. We were quickly and very thoroughly greeted by a gorgeous, bubbly lass named Georgie who we instantly fell in love with. She tied a bright blue ribbon around our right wrists, telling us to keep these on for our entire stay as it showed we’d paid for the all-inclusive package so that we would not be refused food or drink, and she gave David 2 bag labels and our ferry passes along with instructions on which bus to catch to the little harbour.
Our bus trip was all of 3 minutes long but did include a steep hill down to the harbour and it rained lightly all the while so we were happy to accept it. Beyond the small harbour area we’d been delivered to we could see the shops of Hamilton Island but did not have time to go and look at them which was a shame.
Waiting with other people under a shelter, all of a sudden the skies opened and the rain thundered down. The safety of our shelter was only from above because the paving bricks were soon swamped and a deep puddle began to grow across the floor. I kept moving our cases away from it and we got ever friendlier with the other people huddled there as our safe haven shrunk in size. The puddle shown at the bottom of this photo is under the shelter!
Two male employees came from one of the boats towards us and with no apparent planning, both of them made a huge jump into the deepest puddle near the white fences. We did laugh!
Then David looked for our boarding passes for the ferry and they were nowhere to be found. Of course he asked me what I’d done with them!!! I had not laid a finger on them and reminded him of how he had given me the baggage labels to attach to our bags but kept the boarding passes himself. Georgie had told us that she would be sharing the ferry with us though so we waited for her to join us and confessed our sins. We can only presume they were still on the floor at the counter where she’d given them to us!
Anyway thankfully, Georgie spoke for us and we were allowed on board and were soon on our way. There were only half a dozen of us on the boat. It rained steadily for the 30 minute journey but it was still very interesting to see the islands of all different shapes and sizes as we went by. As we finally pulled carefully through a marked channel to moor at the Club Med Lindeman Island jetty, the rain got heavier still. We could see people high above us on the jetty all dressed in white trousers and sky blue shirts and David said in a dismayed voice “How on earth do we get up there?” Fortunately there was a lower deck with stairs leading upwards and as each person or couple got off the boat, one of the blue shirts came to meet us with a large white umbrella. You can see the rain-covered window I was looking through here.
We walked along a brick paved pathway through the puddles, in front of 3-storey buildings and past a pool into the main building where a fruit juice was thrust into our hands and we were urged to sit. A greeting and short information session followed from Steve, the incredibly young village manager and then one person from each group or couple went up to sign for room keys. As soon as we’d finished our drinks the glasses were whisked away by eager hands and all of the greeters stood around looking young and enthusiastic and happy. Soon enough we were assigned a staff member (all called G.O.s which we later found out stands for Gracious Organisers) to show us to our room and we headed back down the pathway towards the jetty. Never fear, they weren’t kicking us out, our room was that way!
Our G.O. struggled to open the sliding glass door to let us in and I never did manage it myself. I tried on 2 occasions but decided to allow David to be the gentleman and do it for me other than that. It definitely needed some TLC. As we went into the room a smell greeted us. It was the same smell that had been in our room in Fiji and I can only presume it is the way wood smells in constantly moist air. We did get used to it after a couple of days.
On exploring the room we had a double bed with a desk and chair one side and a small bedside table the other, a foam sofa with a trundle bed underneath, a cupboard with a fridge inside and drawers with a small TV on top. There were also 2 wardrobes, one with a small safe in it, and an air conditioner that was permanently on even when you pushed ‘off’. We had a separate loo with a tiny hand-basin and then a bathroom with a basin, vanity unit, and a high-sided bath with the shower above it. The shower had swung around and was hanging sadly southwards and when David tried to right it, it just swung down again. When we later went to put soap in the metal soap dish, it obliged us with the same dance, tipping the soap into the bottom of the bath with the same persistence. In order to shower we either had to stand and hold the shower head for each other or put it between our knees when we needed both hands for soaping up etc. It added to the amusement of the holiday and we just laughed; I mean, we could easily have reported it and got it fixed I’m sure.
But I’m getting ahead of myself because at this time we almost literally just dumped our bags in the room and headed for the dining room where we’d been told that lunch was being held open for us. We were both extremely grateful for this as there had been no food on the 90 minute flight from Brisbane and we hadn’t had a meal since midnight on the Perth to Brisbane flight. It was now close to 2pm so the buffet was more than a little welcome. I’d felt too ill at Brisbane airport to eat and David had been caring for me and hadn’t said he was hungry.
After lunch the rain had eased up so we then chose to have a bit of a wander around and explore the resort and I think it was the steepest place I’ve ever been to, even including my grandparents’ award winning hill in England! From the main resort to the reception area were 88 steps straight up, with a shop and some toilets off to the sides at the half-way point. Beyond reception was a choice of more steps, a really steep road, or a really steep footpath that also had some steps in it. We constantly chose the path with the steps which passed a small torrent of water tumbling down rocks and then heading underneath the road and presumably reception to who-knows-where.
At the top of this path was yet another climb up a smaller hilly road until we came across the 9th hole of the golf course which did make us laugh. Check out the bunker! Or should I say lake? The beginning of the waterfall also appeared to start from just to the left of this – we found out more about this the next day but you will have to wait for that.
Further up the hill were the 4 tennis courts, an archery area and a gymnasium but we were deeply disappointed to find that the gym was just a large empty room suitable for indoor sports, not filled with treadmills, weight machines etc as we’d expected.
For our next trick we decided to give in to our exhaustion and laid down on the bed which ended up being a 2-hour nap. I’d bought us a set of eye masks each as I’d read before we went that the curtains don’t fully cover the windows, which was true, and for the first time in his entire life David had a granny nap!
After waking we finally unpacked our luggage and started to feel at home. And still it rained.
Dinner was a French-inspired theme and was very nice too. All meals were buffet, just so I don’t have to bore you with that fact again and again. There were times when rather too many of the dishes for my taste were meat based and it always amuses me when you find a salad (yippee!) only to find it infused with meat pieces (booo!). While I do accept that vegetarians are a minority, it would be really nice to see the salad unadulterated and the meat next to it so that those who want the meat can sprinkle it over the top on their own plate. However, the food was more than plentiful, well cooked and tasty with enough variety even for the ‘fussy’ such as myself.
There was a show after dinner – a Michael Jackson tribute but we’re not really fans of his music and although I like his dancing I wasn’t expecting the show to be like the real thing so we agreed it was most definitely time for a whole night’s sleep!
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