Sunday in the Whitsunday Islands, AUS Feb. 21, 2016
Early this morning our ship anchored in the Whitsunday Islands, off the northeastern coast of Australia, and we took a smaller boat from Hamilton Island to explore the Whitsunday passage. This area is magnificent, and it’s hard to find the words to describe how this small area on a map is so tremendously vast and beautiful. The Whitsunday Islands are 74 volcanic islands that stretch out over an area of about 200 miles. The Islands are about 40 km west of the great barrier reef (that coral reef that is so large it can be seen from space), and 7 of the 74 islands are developed (but only lightly developed). They are named in honor of Whitsunday, aka Pentecost. The islands are almost entirely national parks/conservation areas (land or marine), but development takes place through land leases.
Hamilton Island is home to several very posh resorts, a beautiful marina filled with nice yachts, and an airport. Nearby Dent Island has a golf course that appears to be somewhat challenging. Looks like these are fine places to go if you want a really exclusive vacation.
We cannot stop thinking of how Captain James Cook (who discovered these islands in the 1770s) must have marveled that as far as his eyes could see, there were high forested mountains (Huon Pine trees grow out of the rocks along the shore and up the hills), beautiful beaches, safe coves and harbors, and such potential for the land. Captain Cook found Aboriginal people in these islands, as well as kangaroos, as he navigated the coral reef and claimed the islands for His Majesty King George III.
What continues to amaze us on this trip is how vast the Pacific Ocean is, and how intrepid early sailors must have been to venture out to find new lands. Very brave folks with a great sense of adventure!