From time to time the camper trailer gets a little too cosy, a little too much like hard-work and a little too relentless! The cure? An escape to Daydream Island.
Cruising into Airley Beach we decide that the best way for the kids to really feel the vibe of the Whitsundays is to check into island life. The Skipper and I have cruised these islands (and waters) several times …but that’s a whole other blog!
Hearing on the grapevine that there’s an overnight deal going on for one of Whitsunday’s 74 islands – Daydream Island – with kids staying free … we are out the bug-net door before you can say “Would you like to pay by credit card?”
We leave the camper set up at the Airley Beach Caravan Park for the night, grab a lift with camping-next-door Bart to catch the Cruise Whitsundays ferry from Able Point Marina.
Just a hop, swim and a sigh away is the welcoming island of Daydream Island. It’s more of a resort-village really, set around a generous series of linked swimming pools, which we spent the bulk of our time hanging out at.
Ah resort hospitality! The Squids loved their mocktails and a meander by the Living Reef Lagoon as we checked in. Boy Squid was beaming … resort living seems to definitely agree with his temperament. The Living Reef Lagoon is filled with colourful coral and fishlife, with sharks and stingrays cruising lagoon waiting for their daily 10am public feeding session.
Down on a small rocky outcrop at Daydream Island sit three bronze mermaids – Aphrodesia, Serenity and Infinity. They are a great piece of art in their own right – and a rather fanciful nod to the rumour that their siren call contributed to Captain Cook’s HMB Endeavour hitting reef and becoming firmly lodged. I made a mental note to check out Captain Cook’s log-books when we reach Cooktown later to see if he refers to it, or if I can spy the longitude and latitude bearings which legend claims match the incident.
In the meantime there’s a siren call with my name on it …leading me to a spacious garden room with two queen sized beds and clean tropical bathroom, to freshen up and shake off the camper trailer life before we explore the island.
While it was a brief overnight stay we still managed to pack a lot in. A stroll down to Sunset Beach, watching near-blonde wallabies bound by on the beach, and an amble to the ‘other side of the island’ where the quirky 19 hole Around Oz mini golf course had us prepping the Squids for some of the sights we’d see in coming months. And dinner – the full buffet affair – with the Squids to knock themselves out on every dish imaginable, followed by ice-cream toppings that made them go bug-eyed. All the while we were ogling the marine life cruising by in one of the world’s largest man-made living coral reef lagoons.
Sure this was all man made, but man was it intriguing to be eating dinner as you hung out next to 140 species of fish and 83 species of coral.
The Daydream Island experience has a colourful backstory of roller-coaster success and slumps.
There’s been some changing faces and fortunes of the developed Daydream island over the years – with colourful identities leaving their mark and losing their fortunes, and cyclonic forces devastating the resort. Originally known as West Molle Island, the island’s early resort life in the 1930’s fluctuated throughout the Depression and World War II years. An intriguing number of colourful owners could each write their own chapter – from the original adventurers Paddy and Connie Murray who bought it in 1932 for 200 pounds, to Sir Reginald Ansett and today’s owner Vaughan Bullivant (former Daydream Island water-ski instructor turned “Nature’s Own” health products magnate). Mr Bullivant obviously regularly enjoys his own natural Daydream experience judging by the large cruiser and helicopter hanging around.
My own natural high came in the form of Stand Up Paddle Boarding on offer down on the beach. You’d think being a coastal gal I’d have been onto the whole SUP thing ages ago. Well I made up for that on Daydream. Loved it. I found my balance straight away, clutched that paddle like a Waiki pro and was off in search of turtles. Sure, I wasn’t contending with any waves, but the SUP bug has it and I’m itching to give it a go again and again when I’m back on my patch of coast. For the record, the equally beaming Squid Boy who paddled along and spotted fish and turtles with me.
He and the Skipper took the sailboat out later for a short sail. I could see the salty gleam in the Skippers eye as he wanted to let the gib out and sail off into the distance.
We’ve checked out a number of island over the years, and Daydream Island definitely gets the flipper clap for great hospitality and extra value add activities to make your stay enjoyable.
And now the camper trailer beckons us back – much to Boy Squids desolation. He was last seen trying to sneak aboard a housekeeping trolley and live out the remainder of his days on Daydream.