Queensland’s tropical islands are a feast for the senses with their natural beauty, secluded beaches and warm aquamarine seas. Lara and Stephen Beattie enjoyed a memorable honeymoon visit to Hamilton Island and Spa wumurdaylin.
No trip ‘down under’ – especially a honeymoon – is complete without visiting some of Australia’s many islands. They are the icing on the vast continent’s proverbial cake and rate with the world’s best, especially the beautiful islands of tropical Queensland.
Our honeymoon itinerary had been carefully planned to include visits to three very different islands; enchanting Magnetic Island near Townsville and two of the Whitsundays (an archipelago of 74 idyllic islands in the Coral Sea between the Queensland Coast and the Great Barrier Reef) – uninhabited Whitsunday Island home to iconic Whitehaven Beach – a four mile stretch of dazzling white silica sand, and popular Hamilton Island, where we indulged in spa treatments and explored the island in a buggy.
As the most developed of the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is also the most accessible, with an airport and direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and a daily ferry service to Shute Harbour (near Airlie Beach) on the mainland. The island offers a variety of visitor accommodation from self-catering apartments to hotels and resorts and has a choice of restaurants, bars, cafés and takeaways. There’s also a luxury day spa, shops, supermarkets, a modern marina and even a golf course. Hamilton marries natural beauty with modern convenience – more than 80 percent of the island is preserved in its natural state, including many beaches, hidden coves and nature trails.
The secluded northern-most tip of the island is home to qualia, one of Australia’s most acclaimed and exclusive resorts, where guests stay in exquisitely designed pavilions, many with private infinity pools. We’d heard about qualia and had hoped to have had an overnight stay and a Bularri Yarrul’ hot stone massage in the spa, but the resort was fully booked with a private party on our available dates.
We settled for a day trip instead, taking the 30-minute early morning ferry to the island from our base near Airlie Beach on the mainland. On arrival, we were welcomed by a guest concierge and taken to pick up our pre-booked buggy (a modified golf cart and the main mode of transport on the island). We were given a brief island orientation and a map. As Hamilton is just three miles from north to south and two miles west to east, we were unlikely to get lost.
Judging by the number of clients booking or arriving for treatments on the day we visited, Spa wumurdaylin, Hamilton’s modern day spa is in great demand. Its highly unusual name ‘wumurdaylin’ means dragonfly in the Aboriginal language and was chosen because dragonflies are often found near water and they represent happiness, freedom, beauty and renewal – the ethos of the sea.
We were warmly welcomed and after completing the usual health questionnaires, waited for our therapists in a comfortable seating area. Although the spa was busy, the ambience was calm and restful, thanks to the subtly colored décor, which used natural materials that reflected the island environment. We loved the unique dragonfly motifs etched onto the glass walls and on the wallpaper in the reception area – a really special touch.
Spa wumurdaylin has 11 treatment rooms including three for couples (this is a popular honeymoon destination), four wet treatment rooms (two with Vichy showers and two with luxury rain showers). The extensive spa menu provides a tempting choice of spa packages, body and facial treatments, luxury manicures and pedicures as well as alternative therapies.
We were taken to one of the couples rooms for our aptly named ‘Especially for Him and Her’ spa package. Lasting two blissful hours, it consisted of a full body aromatherapy massage, an oriental head and scalp massage, a de-stress foot exfoliation and hydration treatment, a Moroccan rose and guava hand treatment and a petite spa facial.
The aromatherapy oils were fantastic and the treatments using authentic Australian Li’tya and Waterlily products were of excellent quality. I especially enjoyed the foot massage – which finished with both my feet wrapped in hot towels after being exfoliated and moisturised.
After our two hours of total indulgence, we were more than a tad spaced out, but herbal tea in the rest area helped restore our equilibrium. My wife’s only small niggle was that she wasn’t offered a shower after our treatment so had oily (but fragrant) tresses for the rest of the day.
Emerging from the cool of the spa into the hot Queensland sun, we felt energized, rejuvenated and hungry. Time for lunch! We climbed aboard the buggy and chugged over to the Yacht Club’s popular Bommie Deck restaurant where we shared a generous platter of tasty tapas-style dishes and some cooling drinks on the terrace overlooking the busy marina.
We had a few hours to explore the island’s white sand beaches and pretty coves before it was time for us to reluctantly return to the mainland. As the ferry sped across the aquamarine sea, we promised ourselves that we’d be back for a longer visit in the not too distant future.
IF YOU GO
Hamilton Island (www.hamiltonisland.com.au) offers accommodation to suit every taste and budget including the five-star Reef View hotel (from AU$366 per room per night) and boutique Beach Club (from AU$595 per room per night). Rates at qualia start at AS$950 per room per night.
Direct flights are available from Sydney, Melbourne Brisbane and Cairns and other Australian cities.
Fantasea Cruises operates daily ferry transfers from Shute Harbour on the mainland, which take approximately 30 minutes. The Hamilton Island Experience (ex Shute Harbour) costs from AU$125 per adult including a full day at Hamilton Island and return Fantasea transfers to Hamilton Island.
Golf buggies are available for hire from Resortside or Harbourside Buggy Hire to get around the island and cost from AU$80 per day.
The Bommie Deck (and signature restaurant Bommie) is part of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, offers a snack style menu during the day. Lunch at Bommie Deck costs from AU$35 per shared platter.
Spa wumurdaylin is open daily from 9am-7pm
Tel: 0061 (0)7 4946 8669
Visit www.hamiltonisland.com.au/spa-wumurdaylin for treatment menu and prices.
The ‘Especially for Him and Her’ spa package costs AU$510 per couple
Please note: Both qualia and Spa wumurdaylin names use lower case letters.