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Holidays 2013! Camping on the Whitsundays

Coffee time at Crayfish Beach
After the Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival off we flew to our winter bolt-hole; 6 weeks at Marlin Cove Resort, Trinity Beach, north of Cairns, where amongst other things (mainly bird watching) our friends who manage the resort, Derek and Kerry, treated us to not one, but two bottles of Grange. Then a drive south to the Whitsundays, camping at National Park campsites on the way. At Airlie Beach, we discovered that the lovely young woman who booked us into Magnum’s Backpackers for a night knew our son Joachim; her husband had worked with him in the UK 15 years ago and they had all shared adventures in Morocco. The next day we put our camping gear and 40 litres of water onto a boat which dropped us off on Crayfish Beach, a boat-access-only idyllic bay on Hook Island in the Whitsundays. There we camped in splendid isolation for 4 nights, totally alone and with no way of communicating with the outside world. Not another boat or person did we see, except on the far horizon. We did share the outer part of our tent with a very friendly and cute brown rat, whom we fed with chocolate. The good snorkelling didn’t last as the gale-force winds out to sea (which did not reach our sheltered bay) made visibility poor, but never mind. We were picked up by the same boat which sped back in 40 km/ph winds and hugh seas to Shute Harbour. It was a special experience (the isolated beach camping, not the boat trip back), and one that must surely be almost extinct anywhere else on the globe. (Aside: I have never been to the Whitsundays before and they are forever linked in my mind with the consummation scene between the priest, Father Ralph, and Meggie in Colleen McCullough’s ‘The Thorn Birds’. 1977 that book was written; imagine the furore it would cause if it were published now, given the horrors of the catholic church’s paedophile priests. Perhaps it would pass muster because Father Ralph waited until Meggie was all growed up.)
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