The Sunshine State

I can’t figure out this town, and perhaps this is just something I have to deal with. 

There are a gazillion towns along the coast from which one can access the Great Barrier Reef, and after some debate we chose Airlie Beach. And this town is tiny. The whole place could probably fit on Gilligan’s Island.

This morning after a “normal breakfast” of fried eggs, bacon, and toast, I left Sydney on a 2.5 hour flight north. We were flying to Hamilton Island Airport (HTI). On the plane we all received a small snack of banana bread, which was much better than the peanuts or pretzels we get at home.

HTI is only nominally an airport. That’s the entire thing in the picture. Airplanes land and they take off, dropping off passengers and taking on new ones. Still, there is one runway, and no taxiway. It is truly an airstrip, even smaller than the airstrip in Yogyakarta, which had four gates. Here, there is only one gate and they seem to have only one big plane on the ground at any time. It is remarkably small.

HTI is, as its name implies, on Hamilton Island, a small island in the Whitsunday group of islands. The first thing we did was collect our bags and re-check them in for our ferry ride to the mainland town of Airlie Beach.

While we were waiting, our plane, a 737-800- taxied and took off.

The water here defies description, a sureal shade of blue that almost seems to glow.

The ferry ride took us in a meandering path amongst idyllic islands, many of which seem to be occupied by resorts.

The ferry ride to the mainland took about an hour, with a whale stopping by for a brief visit. He actually breached but I was fumbling with my camera, so all I have is this photo.

The hotel has a lovely view of the harbor to the north and east.

The bathroom has a lot of instructions for use. I don’t think I’ve been in a bathroom with so many very explicit instructions for use.

After getting cleaned up we went into town where we meandered up and down the one road that passes through the place. Tourism is the industry here. Every other store seems to be selling the same daytrip to one or another location. Additionally, there is a big market here for backpackers here, and my general impression is a cross between Kauai and Key West, with a dash of Daytona Beach thrown into the mix. We finalized our plans for tomorrow and stopped into the grocery store (Woolworth’s!) which was much more American than the stores I’ve been to in Europe or Indonesia.

Sitting at the beach, as the light grew dim and the shadows long, we discussed the next days ahead and dinner. D has had mere sustenance while here, and so assigned me the task of food-finding. With the help of the internets and prior advice, including exhortations to enjoy Asian food while here, I chose an Asian restaurant. The chef was from Taiwan and the waiter was from Hong Kong. And the food was delicious. I had Kung Pao Chicken, unlike anything I’ve ever had bearing that moniker before. Absolutely stunning. I’m now two-for-two on Asian food this trip, and still haven’t blogged a word of it. Perhaps tomorrow? 


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