YOUR OWN PRIVATE ISLAND IN THE WHITSUNDAYS
Unable to travel far in these Covid times, we decided it was about time to choose a little adventure in our own backyard and where better than a private island where you can be as active or as relaxed as you like. Camp Island ticked all the boxes and so our little party of eight set off for a three night escapade.
Located off the coastline at Guthalungra, halfway between Townsville and Airlie Beach, this 17.5 hectare island, part of Cape Upstart National Park, is the most northerly of the Whitsunday islands and comprises 2.4 hectares of leasehold property. Bookings are only for private groups of up to 8 people, this was the answer for us. Accommodation is in four tasteful bungalows linked to a main area comprising a huge lounge/dining area and well equipped kitchen as well as a wrap around veranda with two hammocks and chairs for lounging completing the comfortable resort.
Access to the island is by helicopter or small barge from Guthalungra. This was the start of our adventure. Meeting our hosts, Pete and Lizzie, at the boat ramp, we loaded all our provisions for the three days plus fishing rods, personal gear and liquid refreshments onto the barge, aptly named “Little Upstart”, and headed out through the mangroves and barramundi filled creeks of the Elliott River into Abbott Bay. The island is just three kilometres offshore and has to be negotiated at high tide because of the sand bars at the mouth of the river.
Landing on the island was easy and Pete’s little truck and trailer were waiting to transport the gear to the main lodge.
A short walk along a coral encrusted path and we were at the lodge and ready to install ourselves into our new home for the next few days.
The timber bungalows are comfortable and all have ensuites, french doors opening onto little balconies and magical views across to the mainland. The main lodge has a very well equipped kitchen which was perfect for us as we were self catering. Sometimes guests choose to have a chef take care of all the food preparation and cuisine. The lounge area, with cosy sofas and armchairs as well as a dining table, doubles as an entertainment area with blue tooth soundbar and a television – used only for the sports fanatics in our group.
The island is surrounded by beautiful fringing reefs, coral shores and a sandy beach. Lizzie and Pete are more than happy to take guests fishing, snorkelling, paddle boarding or kayaking – in fact they encourage it. Some of our group went fishing along the reef one morning and although they didn’t have a huge catch – because of the windy conditions the day before – they came back more than happy. Another morning, calm and glass like water in the bay ensured a wonderful couple of hours kayaking and coral viewing.
There are lots of walks around the tiny island and beautiful scenic spots, lots of untamed flora and fauna and many species of birds to observe. Each day we watched a pair of osprey hunting to feed the young in the nest which was right beside the path we walked along. Another day we found two little eggs on the edge of the path – still warm – but what sort of birds they were is a mystery.
Sitting around a fire on a coral crusted beach, sundowner in hand, the sky turning a brilliant red before sinking down completely, is how we spent each evening of our stay. A huge fire pit built within the coral rubble and just in front of the bungalows gave us a warm and cosy feel watching first the sky and then becoming mesmerised by the dancing flames of the fire,
For those not inclined to be very active, there is a pool located behind the main lodge as well as a tennis court which provided some hilarity given that we were there during the time of the US Open championships! Personally I preferred a hammock on the front veranda, swaying gently in the breeze and reading a good book.
There is something Robinson Crusoe about this place – and the sense of isolation is sublime. However, all good things come to an end and our departure was as we arrived, via “Little Upstart” and a calm cruise along the waters of Abbott Bay. Sad to farewell Lizzie and Pete we all promised to be in touch and to meet up again either back on the island or on our own Magnetic island later in the year.
And a final warning once back in the mangroves at Guthalungra…….