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The New-Age “Moving On Up”–From Campervan to Private Island Resort

After Lanie  and I ditched the campervan in Airlie beach, we left the next morning for a three day/two night sailing trip in the Whitsunday Islands. Off the central coast of Queensland, this is where people come from all over the world to dive the Great Barrier Reef. When we went to the marina in the morning, we wondered whether or not we had accidentally booked ourselves on a lesbians getaway, as our boat was comprised almost entirely of females. We resigned ourselves to the lack of man candy and figured we could use this opportunity to work on our personalities and bust out some friend-making skills. Throughout the course of our camper van journey and the many meaningful and meaningless discussions that come along with such ventures, we came to the conclusion that in terms of self improvement, our time would be best spent honing some super sweet personalities, as trying to out-babe all the babes on the market is far too tiresome and futile a mission. It involves things like hair straighteners and, yanno, showering regularly.

We spent our days at sea, stopping at various islands to snorkel the clear blue waters, scuba dive, and bask in the sun (or at least the hot Swedish babes did, my freckles and I spent a lot of time cowering in caves and other peoples shadows in search of respite from the relentlessly harsh Australian rays).

Lucky for me, I was the only one who opted to go for another scuba dive on the second day, so I got an extra long dive with just me and the instructor. Bargain! The first time I went diving in New Zealand I went with some stoner dude running a sham of a company. My ears killed on the dive and I couldn’t hear properly for over a week afterward. I thought I would give diving one more shot, especially as I was in the Great Barrier Reef, and if I couldn’t do it then I’d have to accept that I was just one of those people who can’t equalize . I’m so happy I gave it another shot because with proper instruction this time I was able to see some beautiful sights. Ahem.

Oh right, and there were some cool fish and stuff too…

A few different points along the trip, the crew would point out different islands we were going past, and when they pointed out Hayman Island, Lanie and I mentioned that we were going there after the sailing trip to meet up with our friend Ash as she works there. The response was, “Are you sure you’re going to Hayman Island, not Hamilton?”

Not actually sure, we let it go. Then when we arrived back in Airlie beach after the trip, we went to collect our bags from the travel agency and in chatting told the receptionist we were heading to Hayman Island the next day. Again,

“Are you sure you’re going to Hayman island?”

This time Lanie checked her messages from Ash to confirm it was indeed Hayman Island we were supposed to be going to, at which point we were met with shock and disbelief as the girl told us as far as she knew the cheapest room on Hayman Island was 600 a night, and it costs something like 200 just to step foot on the island if you are not a resort guest. We immediately contacted Ash to see what the situation was, and were assured that she had sorted a deal for us and that our names were already on the manifest for the boat to the island. Next moment of panic: what the hell are we supposed to wear? Our bags were full of a typical backpacker wardrobe; all ratty, wrinkled, and readily disposable. How were we supposed to blend in with the other private island resort goers? Answer: we weren’t. Instead of worrying we went to meet up with some people from the sailing trip in town that night. Lanie went home a bit ahead of me so I gave her the room key, but soon after she went in the hostel shut its gates for the night, leaving me locked out of the whole building. Not having a phone, I had no way to contact Lanie to have her come let me in, so being the classy, resourceful lady that I am, I found the nearest park bench and went to sleep.

I woke up early to a group of guys chatting nearby but pretended to keep sleeping until they had passed to avoid any awkward “good morning, yes I was just sleeping on that park bench, meant to be great weather today” conversation. Seeing that the hostel gates were open, I ran inside to our room, not having any idea what time it was, to find that Lanie’s alarm had not gone off and we had 30 minutes to get all of our stuff together and get to the marina before our boat departed. We were meant to be checking in at the marina right then, meaning we had missed the bus that we needed to catch to take us there. No time to do anything with ourselves other than grab our bags, we ran out of the hostel and just started running down the road. Soon realizing we had no chance of getting a bus, we were frantically hoping a taxi might magically drive past, but soon gave up and stuck out our thumbs. Two minutes later a black car stopped and we threw our stuff inside and told him where we thought we were supposed to be going. He drives us to Abel Point Marina, and it only takes a minute before Lanie, at this point on the phone to Ash, realizes it’s actually the marina on the complete other side of town that we need to be at. In three minutes. The angel of a man who picked us up was nice enough to turn around out of his way and take us to the other marina. We pull up just as giant yacht is pulling out of the harbor, so Lanie bolts out of the car and runs down the dock, arms flailing over her head, yelling “Hayman Island!!” Surprisingly, this tactic worked. It’s not just in movies, the boat actually came back to get us. I grab our bags from the car and run towards the boat. Two deckhands are waiting there to take my baggage, at which point the skipper actually yells down from the top deck

“Are you sure you’re going to Hayman Island?”

What, this isn’t how most of your resort guests arrive? Carrying backpacks with sleeping bags, wearing last nights clothes and makeup, making you turn around your boat to come retrieve us? What gave us away?

“Yes (asshole), I know we look like backpackers, but yes we are sure we are going to Hayman Island.”

So they take our bags and guide us up to the top deck where we soon realize this entire yacht is for just us and one other couple. Finally having a chance to calm down and be thankful we made it after yet another ridiculously close call, we are met with salmon sandwiches, chocolates, and champagne. We accept, trying to pretend that this is obviously what happens to us all the time when we travel, then we wait until the deckhands go back downstairs before bursting out laughing. What the hell was happening? I just slept on a park bench and now I’m on a private yacht taking me to an exclusive private island resort.

We arrive at the island and are driven in a resort cart up to where we meet Ash. After taking us on a tour of the island, where Lanie and I did our best to be the biggest embarrassments to Ash possible, we checked into our room. Our glorious room.

Just in case anyone wanted to question if we were actually staying there, we decided to wear the slippers and bathrobes we found in the closet everywhere we went. To the pool, to the beach, to the restaurant, to the bar. All in bathrobes and slippers.

After parading ourselves around the island all afternoon, we went back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner. But three of us have to shower. And there’s only one bathroom. Well that’s inconvenient isn’t it? I leave Lanie in the bathroom to go hang up my beach towel, and I walk back in to find her sitting on her knees in the bathtub vigorously shaking a bottle of hotel “bath essence” into the water as she fills up the tub. Problem solved! We’re all taking a bubble bath!

Honestly you’d think we had been living in a cave for the past 20 years, not just living out of a camper van for three weeks.

After living the high life for a few days, the three of us headed up the coast to Cairnes where we went white water rafting through the rainforest on the Tully River, then sadly said our goodbyes before flying off to different destinations. Unfortunately for them, they were going back to work, while I was lucky enough to be flying to Bali, just getting my trip started. Magical Bali. Oh how excited I am to write about what’s been happening to me here!

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