A Fanatical Sabbatical | Part 15 - Wetsunday Islands!

The Nortons dreams of sunny days on a deserted Whitsunday Island don't exactly go to plan!

Finally, after what seemed half a year of inland desert and plains, we had made it to the warm North Queensland coast. The idea of hitting the tropical beaches and the ‘sunny’ part of our big lap had been dangling in front of my subconscious like a sweet carrot. Visions of sandy days on white beaches fringed with palm trees drove us faster to the coast as we left the inland. Unfortunately for us, the skies had other plans.

Pretty much as soon as we arrived in cane country, the weather came in crap. Maybe it started with Caspar taking a long walk off a short pier in Mackay Marina, but luck just didn’t fall our way as we headed toward Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands, under a sky of overcast grey. It was warmer, but not enough to bask in our bikinis all day.

A bucket list item for me on this trip included an escape out to a Whitsunday island for a spot of snorkelling, sunbaking and beachcombing. A review of the National Park camping sites sold me on a couple of beaches with promises of shallow reefs close to the shore, filled with a rainbow of sea life and spectacular corals to explore. Sandy white beaches set against backdrops of rainforest. Just the 4 of us, roughing it in a tent, eating basics and get back to the real deal, the raw goodness of being stranded on a deserted island.

Instead, it rained. All day. Every day. Yes way.

Big Lap Budget Spreadsheet - 2018

On the way to the island beach where were to spend 5 nights, the water taxi bounced over increasingly frothy swell, drenching us from the start. On arrival, the beach was a mere 40m long, no length to even consider a beachcombing session. The jungle behind us dropped sharply to the beach, preventing any inland exploration. We had seen it all within an hour of pulling in to shore. The two other parties of brave souls were young couples in the midst of kissy kissy romance days, who treated our arrival with disdain, as though their own parents had turned up to spoil the sandy cuddles and sexy time beach photography sessions.

The hire tent, a brand new lightweight summer number, would have stood up quite well to a sprinkling of dry season precipitation. But what we were asking it to protect us from was a constant medium weight drizzle for hours and hours on end. It filled with the humidity of a sauna when all 4 of us pretzeled ourselves into its 3 man space, sand getting into the ‘beds’ from the get go. 'State of the art hiking mattresses' were mere yoga matts, worn to the thickness of pita bread by countless backpackers before us. The coral reef had been destroyed in the cyclone of the year before. The clincher? It was Mark’s birthday while there, and with no power for refrigeration, no beer was to be had. ‘Deb’ dehydrated mash potato didn’t cut the mustard either.

3 days before we were due to depart, the water taxi arrived to transport one of the other camping couples back to the mainland. When the smirking boat driver pulled in to shore, he found us already packed up and waiting on the wet sand, begging to be taken to the mainland early. I never thought our camper trailer would have felt like such a respite from the weather than it did that day. A hot shower, dry clothes and a pub meal was bliss! Whitsunday FAIL!

A Fanatical Sabbatical

‘Mark, Kim and the kids are leaving behind their home in the Adelaide Hills to jaunt around the country side while they manage their arborist business remotely. Normally enrolled in ‘bush school’, they thought they could push the kids outdoor eduction experience a little further by living outside for a year.

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Sheltering from the spray on the boat over to Hook Island, Whitsundays

Ominous clouds ahead, Captain

We stopped off briefly at Whitehaven Beach, one of Australia’s ‘most beautiful’ beaches… not in its top form. 

Mum, get me outta here

Still, prettiness . . .

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