Steve's China Blog

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Years in Australia

Thursday morning after Christmas and I caught an early flight to Sydney where I caught a connecting flight to Hamilton Island, which is in the middle of a group of islands called the Whitsunday Islands which are around the Great Barrier Reef in the northeastern part of Australia. There was a light rain when we arrived at Hamilton Island, but it was so warm out I did not mind. From there I caught a boat for the half hour trip out to Lindeman Island.

View from my room on a rainy windy day

It had been raining for a few days at Lindeman Island and it would continue to rain for another day. I did not mind too much since I had gotten a bad sunburn in New Zealand, but not much was happening since a lot of the activities there are outdoor activities. One person I talked to who worked there said it was the worst weather he had seen all year. I spent the time exploring the resort and the island, and just relaxing. Eventually the rain stopped and eventually the sun came out.

A bunch of these ugly birds were everywhere. A swamp hen?

The day the weather cleared I had no particular plans, but it turned out to be a busy day. I woke up early and after breakfast I went up to the adult pool, and did a little swimming. After that I went back to the main pool area and while waiting for lunch time I met this lady named Vivian. Vivian wanted to go sailing, so we agreed to meet after lunch and take a catermeran out.

The adult pool after the rains and wind left

For some reason I thought Vivian had gone sailing before, and I have not gone sailing in like 35 years, so we really had no idea what we were doing. It was pretty funny... The first part of our sailing adventure went well, and with the high winds, we were zooming along in our catermeran. Coming back though was where we ran into problems. What happened was that we got a little too close to the shore and while trying to avoid some rocks we ended up capsizing the boat and getting pushed into the rocks by the current anyways. The sailing shack staff saw us go in, and quickly rescued us. Just a few scrapes and bruises, but it was very exciting and we were laughing the whole way back to the sailing shack!

Sailing in the high winds

After sailing I went up to the circus workshop area and tried out the trapeze. It seemed a lot harder than it looked, but it was a lot of fun. I guess I am not as flexible as I use to be.

Someone trying out the trapeze

Another person on the trapeze

Who let this person go on the trapeze?!

I can fly!

After practicing on the trapeze for awhile I went over to the archery range and shot some archery. I finished up at around dinner time and after eating dinner I joined some others around the main bar area for a few drinks. Some of them wanted to go out dancing that evening but I had to get up early the next day, so I didn't stay up too late.

The next day a bunch of us went on an excursion out to the Great Barrier Reef. We ended up going to a place called ReefWorld, which is like a large barge anchored out on the reef. There was a lot to do out on ReefWorld... snorkeling, scuba diving, underwater observation deck, sun deck, semi-sub rides, etc... We took a big boat out to the reef and part of the trip had some very rough seas. A lot of the people on board got sick, and a lot of the kids were crying. I actually thought it was rather a lot of fun smashing into the waves and going up and down! Sort of like an amusement park ride. Weeee!!!

Part of the Great Barrier Reef

While going out to the reef I met up with a Japanese family and we ending up hanging out together most of the day. When we arrived at ReefWorld most people went out scuba diving or snorkeling right away, but I decided to explore the place some first. I also wanted a cigarette, and since we weren't allowed to smoke out there it took me awhile to find a place where people were going to sneak a quick smoke.


A huge grouper named George (about 7 or 8 feet long)

Underwater observation deck on Reefworld

A pair of semi-subs

Helicopter pad near Reefworld

Eventually I went and got all of my diving gear and went out on the reef. It was really nice and after doing that for about an hour I went and had lunch. After lunch I wanted to go out on one of the semi-subs to see the reef that way. A semi-sub is sort of like a glass bottom boat, but the cabin that you go into inside the sub is almost all underwater, so you can get a good view of the reef around the sub. The first couple of times that I tried to go out on one of the semi-subs the line was too long, so I spent some time hanging around waiting to get one one and got on the last one of the day.

An angelfish swims by

An assortment of fish and coral

A pretty butterfly fish

After the ride around the reef on the semi-sub we jumped back on board our ship to go back to Hamilton Island and catch another boat back to the resort. This time more people took their sea-sickness pills and enjoyed the ride as much as I did! Well, maybe not as much as I did. Weeee!!!

Actually, all that bouncing around on the boat made me pretty sore all over. Luckily I had scheduled a massage for the next day at the spa. What I got was called a revitalizing marine body wrap... a full body exfoliation using micronised marine sediments with a relaxing full body wrap followed by a hour-long massage. It was a great way to end the year! For New Years they had a big party out by the main pool, but I just hung around with some friends and wasn't really into all the noise and stuff.

Beach volleyball

Crazy day at the main pool

With friends on New Years eve

Enjoying a drink with more friends

I didn't do too much on New Years day. Pretty much just hung out and chatted with people. It was kind of funny to see who was hungover and who wasn't. A lot of the staff seemed to have stayed up extra late, since most of them could not party until most of the guests had gone to bed.

Emilie serves drinks on New Years day at the pool bar

On the day after New Years I played a few holes of golf on the little golf course they had on the island. It was very hot out on the course, but I took extra care not to get sunburned again... mostly by hitting my ball into the trees where it was shady. Hehe! The next day I had to get up early to catch my flight to Hong Kong.

View of 8th green from the 7th green

A quick note about the Lindeman Island Club Med... This is definitely a family oriented Club Med. There are a lot of kids here and a lot of things, such as the food, is geared toward them. They also have the most restrictions on smoking that I have ever encountered at a Club Med before. Although I had a great time at Lindeman I preferred all of the other Club Med's better than this one. If you smoke, do not have kids, and/or looking for a wonderful dining experience all the time then this particular Club Med might not be for you.


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