We headed back to Brisbane yesterday after saying goodbye to my fellow islanders, the remaining TQ staff and Hamilton Island for the meantime, checked back into the Stamford Plaza overnight and awoke to a magnificent sunrise after my first good nights sleep in around a week!
Today symbolises the start of two days of rest and recuperation after the brilliant madness during the last week of controlled chaos. I grabbed some breakfast in the room whilst desperately trying to find time to get this blog up to date to let all of you know just what’s been going on….I have to keep you in the picture!
Sharon Raguse was awaiting my arrival in reception, these TQ staff are on time you know, we did the formalities, checked a couple of my bags in as the sheer amount of gear I’ve picked up over the last few days has meant trying to haul around far too much excess baggage, and headed in the car out of the city – my first experience of rural Aus!
I’m loving the buildings, the space of each plot, the uniqueness of each house and the cleanliness of the roads – no wonder so many people move out here! We arrived at Cleveland and had a couple of photographers to satisfy before jumping on the Big Red Cat which would whisk us across to North Stradbroke Island or Straddie as its affectionately known to the locals.
Driving on board we quickly found a comfy seat and grabbed a choco milk as one of the staff came up and asked if I’d like to head up to the bridge to see the view – of course I said and raced up the stairs! Mick the captain even let me drive the massive beast as we turned out of the main channel and headed across the gorgeous blue water passing mangroves and jumping fish, amazing!
As we pulled onto the slipway I said my thank yous and we drove the short distance to the Stradbroke Hotel through stunning gum tree lined roads and finally past the all important WARNING KANGAROOS sign which I’d been waiting for – a true icon.
Another friendly person welcomed us into the reception and gave me the keys to the apartment I’d be staying in overnight…plus there’s a cheese selection in the room as an appetiser! Amazing service.
This has to be one of the biggest WOW’s yet…what a superb place, three double bedrooms, two bathrooms and a balcony overlooking the ocean with BBQ and open plan kitchen and living area – fit for ten people at least!
The superb tailor made schedule which TQ has put together for me over the next two days gives me the chance to enjoy the quiet away from the flashlights of the cameras and it started off exactly as I hoped it would...with another 4x4 adventure!
'Barefoot Dave' was there to meet me at reception and we climbed onboard his Toyota Landcruiser and set off around the island, along the beaches, through the bush and over the huge sand hills with Dave telling me stories the entire time about the flora, fauna and vehicles the whole way. What a great afternoon of adventure!
Once we arrived back at the Stradbroke Hotel I freshened up and Sharon drove me up to the Amis Restaurant for dinner with chef/owner Peter conjuring up the most incredible delights for both of us...no choosing off the menu here, this was all about allowing him to serve us whatever he wanted - and he didn't fail to deliver; kangaroo, scallops, prawns, duck and then a range of exquisite deserts! I left feeling rather stuffed but extremely honoured to have had such a superb range of delights!