The Barrier Reef’s Orpheus Island is a absolute getaway, writes Ewan McDonald.
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The helicopter scuds low and apathetic aloft the azure seas of the Great Barrier Reef.
Strapped into the seats abutting to me, Eileen and Graham babble absurdly to one another.
It’s hardly a clandestine conversation: all our headsets are linked.
The Melbourne brace are aerial to an island resort to bless their 35th bells anniversary. Appropriate: they honeymooned here. On a mission: they appetite to acquisition a dive atom they went to way aback when.
Problem: they anticipate it was alleged Iris Corner, but the pilot’s never heard of it and, aback we acreage on the island’s aerodrome and are clearing in with glasses of albino on the bank veranda, nor accept the staff.
Graham and Eileen don’t assume decidedly aghast but it would be adamantine to be aghast on Orpheus Island.
In the Apricot Sea 80km (or a 30-minute helicopter flight) arctic of Townsville, the island has been a appealing abundant alien close getaway. Well, until Australia’s favourite god of thunder, Chris Hemsworth, holidayed at the resort with his wife and awash the photos to a women’s magazine.
The island — aloof 11km of sun-kissed, white close beaches about — is mostly civic esplanade and biological analysis station, set central the reef’s Apple Heritage-listed abyssal park.
Once acclaimed for hosting Elton John, Phil Collins and Vivien Leigh, Orpheus Island Lodge had apparent bigger canicule aback Melbourne agent and freeholder Chris Morris bought it for a arrangement amount in 2011.
Limited to 28 guests at a time, the resort has alone 14 apartment and villas. My villa, set in award a brace of metres from the beach, feels added like a bach than accommodation.
There’s a cheeseboard, bake-apple bowl and addition canteen of air-conditioned albino on the dining table.
The villa, with a huge adept bedroom, active breadth and island kitchen, indoor-outdoor bathroom, is refined, relaxed, big-ticket elegance.
A actual affluent mate’s bach that you’ve been accustomed to borrow for the weekend while they’re in the Seychelles, then.
The card for tonight’s banquet — tables are set on the veranda, attractive out to the anchorage and the sea above — lies on the credenza. Four courses, alpha with kangaroo carpaccio; a pumpkin, mushroom, quinoa, bake-apple and vegetable salad; broiled barramundi with Jerusalem artichoke, blooming apple, truffle labne; a mango parfait. The resort prides itself on its kitchen and cellar. It has a lot to be appreciative of.
After banquet we airing through the balmy black to the jetty, attractive through clear, midnight-blue baptize at the bank sharks, mullet and bags of abate abyssal activity jostling to be fed by the staff. They’re accepting angle for banquet too.
Three days, two nights of absolute alleviation until the helicopter comes back. This is an island area you can do a lot of nothing. Or you can do a little of aloof about everything.Snorkelling and diving: Orpheus’ dive sites and apricot area host 1100 of the reef’s 1500 accepted species. Fishing: the amnion are home to approved bank fish. Boating: the resort will backpack a gourmet bassinet and accord guests the keys to a motor baiter to barbecue at the coves and fringing reefs.
Kayaks. Paddleboards. A catamaran. Cruises to neighbouring islands: the different ambiance and waterfalls of Hinchinbrook, the reef’s better island, are alone a few kilometres away. Sunset banquet cruises. Treatments at the resort’s day spa, which aim to restore antithesis and wellness.
Early morning, awoken by coconuts falling on the aisle alfresco my villa, I activate to restore my antithesis and wellness by walking over a saddle to Barbecue Bay, through the civic park’s backcountry trails, animation taken by ocean and island panoramas at every bend. I accommodated and airing for a while with a British brace activity the calefaction although it’s not yet 11am. Mad Kiwis and English folk go out in the morning sun.
Mask, snorkel, into the water, clouds of harlequin-coloured angle scattering.
Lunch. A book and a anchorage slung amid two approach copse on the beach. The book may not accept been opened.
Time to air-conditioned off again. Togs and into the beyond basin abutting to the veranda-bar-dining room-social acquisition place. Yes, on the beach. There is article always corrupt about amphibian in a swimming-pool on a beach, abnormally aback the sea temperature is in the mid-20s.
My absent-mindedness is disconnected by a aide affably inquiring if I’d like a baptize or … Yes. Baptize with hops and atom in it. That should accumulate me activity until dinner. And that’s the accent of activity on Orpheus Island for the abutting brace of days. Until the helicopter comes back.
Again, I’m sitting beside Graham and Eileen, watching turtles and sharks in the blue-green apple of the bank not far beneath us.
“Did you acquisition Iris Corner?” I ask them. “Yes,” Eileen says, “although it was on addition island and it isn’t alleged that. But we acclaimed our ceremony by diving there again.”
flies from Auckland to Townsville, via Brisbane, with acknowledgment Economy Class flights from $777.
ACCOMMODATIONOrpheus Island Lodge has apartment from $A1500 a night for two people, suites from $A2000 a night for two people. Orpheus Island is accessible mid-March to backward January.
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