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No trip down under – especially a honeymoon – is complete without visiting one or more of Queensland's glorious islands, says Stephen Beattie

Paradise Islands

Queensland’s tropical islands are a feast for the senses with their natural beauty, secluded beaches and warm aquamarine seas – just perfect for a honeymoon, says Stephen Beattie. 

No trip down under – especially a honeymoon – is complete without visiting one or more of Australia’s many islands. They are the icing on the vast continent’s proverbial cake. And nowhere are islands more beautiful than in tropical Queensland, home of the Great Barrier Reef and the romantic Whitsundays. 

Driving south from Port Douglas in Far North Queensland to Airlie Beach, we were lucky enough to experience three magical islands; Magnetic Island near Townsville and two of the Whitsundays (a cluster of 74 idyllic islands in the warm waters of the Coral Sea between the Queensland Coast and the Great Barrier Reef) – uninhabited Whitsunday Island with its iconic four mile stretch of dazzling white silica sand and Hamilton Island, where we indulged in spa treatments and explored the island in a buggy. 

As the largest and most developed of the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is also the most accessible, with an airport and direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and a daily ferry service to Shute Harbour (near Airlie Beach) on the mainland. The island offers a variety of visitor accommodation from self-catering apartments to hotels and resorts and has a choice of restaurants, bars, cafés and takeaways. There’s also a luxury day spa, shops, supermarkets, a modern marina and even a golf course. Hamilton marries natural beauty with modern convenience – more than 80 per cent of the island is preserved in its natural state, including beaches, hidden coves and nature trails. 

The secluded northern-most tip of the island is home to qualia, one of Australia’s most acclaimed and exclusive resorts, where guests stay in exquisitely designed pavilions, many with private infinity pools. We’d heard about qualia and wanted to treat ourselves to an overnight stay and a Bularri Yarrul’ hot stone massage in the spa, but the resort was fully booked with a private party on our available dates. 

So we settled for a day trip instead. Disembarking the 30-minute early morning ferry, we were welcomed by a guest concierge, who provided us with a map and a short island orientation, before taking us to pick up our buggy (a modified golf cart and the main mode of transport on the island). As Hamilton is just three miles from north to south and two miles west to east, we were not likely to get lost. 

Spa wumurdaylin, Hamilton’s lovely new day spa, opened about a month prior to our visit. Judging by the number of clients booking or arriving for treatments when we were there, it was in great demand. 

The name ‘wumurdaylin’ (meaning dragonfly in the Aboriginal language) was chosen because the dragonfly represents the ethos of the spa – happiness, freedom, beauty and renewal – and is often found near water. 

After being welcomed by a friendly receptionist, we filled in our consultation forms then waited in a comfortable seating area for our therapists. The spa’s restful ambience with its subtle colours and natural materials seemed to reflect the island environment. And we loved the dragonflies etched onto the glass walls and on the wallpaper in the reception area – a delightful touch. 

The spa’s 11 treatment rooms include three couples rooms, four wet treatment rooms (two with Vichy showers and two with luxury rain showers). No sauna or steam room (this is the tropics!). The extensive spa menu provides a choice of spa packages, body and facial treatments, luxury manicures and pedicures as well as alternative therapies. 

We were taken to one of the couples rooms for our aptly named ‘Especially for Him and Her’ spa package. Lasting two blissful hours, it consisted of a full body aromatherapy massage, an oriental head and scalp massage, a de-stress foot exfoliation and hydration treatment, a Moroccan rose and guava hand treatment and a petite spa facial. 

The aromatherapy oils were deeply relaxing and the treatments using authentic Australian Li’tya and Waterlily products were of excellent quality. I especially enjoyed the foot massage, which ended with both feet wrapped in hot towels after being exfoliated and moisturised, while my wife’s favourite part of the treatment was the back massage, as it helped ease out knots of tension in her neck and shoulders. 

Afterwards, we felt totally relaxed and a tad spaced out, but some herbal tea in the rest area soon restored our equilibrium. Lara’s only niggle was that she wasn’t offered use of a shower to wash the oil from her hair and scalp after the head massage. We’d left the spa by the time she realised how oily her hair actually was. 

Energised and rejuvenated after our treatment, we swapped the cool of the spa for the hot Queensland sun, and drove over in the buggy to have lunch in the Yacht Club’s popular Bommie Deck restaurant. Sitting at a table on the outdoor terrace overlooking the busy marina, we shared a generous platter of tasty tapas-style dishes and some cooling drinks. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the island’s white sand beaches and pretty coves before reluctantly returning to the mainland. As the ferry sped across the aquamarine sea, we promised ourselves that we’d be back for a longer visit in the not too distant future.

Hamilton Island ( offers accommodation to suit every taste and budget including the five-star Reef View hotel (from AU$366 per room per night) and boutique Beach Club (from AU$595 per room per night). Rates at qualia start at AS$950 per room per night.Direct flights are available from Sydney, Melbourne Brisbane and Cairns and other Australian cities.Fantasea Cruises operates daily ferry transfers from Shute Harbour on the mainland, which take approximately 30 minutes. The Hamilton Island Experience (ex Shute Harbour) costs from AU$125 per adult including a full day at Hamilton Island and return Fantasea transfers to Hamilton Island.Golf buggies are available for hire from Resortside or Harbourside Buggy Hire to get around the island and cost from AU$80 per day.

The Bommie Deck (and signature restaurant Bommie) is part of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, offers a snack style menu during the day. Lunch at Bommie Deck costs from AU$35 per shared platter.

Spa wumurdaylin is open daily from 9am-7pm

Tel: 0061 (0)7 4946 8669

Visit for treatment menu and prices.

The ‘Especially for Him and Her’ spa package costs AU$510 per couple.

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