Landing at Hamilton Island we got a real flavour of what was to come. The luggage arrives not on a conveyor belt but piled on a series of trolleys. The hotels are there to greet the guests and to take them and the luggage on the very short journey to their hotel. Everything is handled with super efficiency. What is most noticeable is the preferred means of transport - the golf buggy.
Our room was on the 13th floor of the Reef View Hotel. The view from the bedroom was amazing, looking across the beach towards Whitsunday Island (famous for its Whitehaven Beach). The bed is sited so that you can look through the massive patio window onto this view. The one warning is not to leave the balcony doors open as the native cockatoos like looking for food in unoccupied rooms.
We spent three nights on Hamilton Island and absolutely loved it. Hamilton Island is a resort but it was so different from our previous resort experience at Ayers Rock as to be incomparable. The whole area is geared to tourists and in addition to the golf buggies there are free island buses and numerous walks round the island. The marina (where most of the restaurants were located) was a 10 minute walk. The restaurants we tried were of a very good quality without being over priced. Indeed, given there is a captive audience, the prices of most things were cheaper than we had got used to elsewhere in Australia. At capacity there are 8,000 tourists and 2,000 staff. We were there at the height of the season and it certainly didn't feel crowded. Indeed we took one walk along the beach and didn't see another person.
The highlights for us were the Great Barrier Reef, the views from Peak Point and cocktails at One Tree Hill at sunset. The trip out to the Great Barrier Reef was really well organised. There was the chance to snorkel, scuba dive and go into a semi-submersible as well as looking at the reef and fish from an underwater viewing chamber. Rob went snorkelling with a marine biologist for a reasonable additional cost and was shown things he might otherwise have missed. I am not a great fan of water so stuck to the semi-submersible, which I went out in twice.
The airport was good fun at departure. The security was excellent. I was selected to undergo an explosives check with the security man sharing his family history on both sides. His mother's family arrived with the first or second fleet (i.e. convicts), whilst his father's family was descended from William Pitt (the prime minister). Not often you hear a story like that. We boarded a small plane to take us on to our final Australian stopping point, Port Douglas.