Or­pheus Is­land

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Escape - – Stephanie Hux­ley or­pheus.com.au

DREAMY, LEAFY AND RE­LAXED, Or­pheus Is­land on the Great Bar­rier Reef is all about laid­back is­land life.ar­rival is ex­clu­sively by he­li­copter, which takes about 30 scenic and very en­joy­able min­utes from Townsville. The in­ti­mate Or­pheus Is­land Lodge in­cludes just 14 suites set along the wa­ter among lush trop­i­cal gar­dens.with a max­i­mum of only 28 guests, and 30 staff, your ev­ery whim is catered to with­out de­lay.

Plan your days, with in­put from the ever-help­ful staff, over à la carte break­fast in the main pavil­ion, an airy trop­i­cal-mod­ernist space sur­rounded by sway­ing ba­nana palms — we de­tect Ge­of­frey Bawa ar­chi­tec­tural in­flu­ences — and bor­dered by the bright blue Co­ral Sea. Go for leisurely wan­ders around the is­land, take cool­ing swims in the black-tiled in­fin­ity pool, opt to join a snorkelling tour or cocktail mak­ing class, try out stand-up pad­dle­board­ing or char­ter a boat for an outer reef dive trip — op­tions are plen­ti­ful. But it’s pic­nics on se­cluded beaches that are re­ally the thing to do. Staff will load up a lit­tle mo­torised dinghy with a chef-pre­pared lunch ham­per, tow­els, snorkelling gear, a pic­nic blan­ket and your choice of wine, and talk you through di­rec­tions to dif­fer­ent beaches and tips on which ones you will have to your­selves at any given time. We de­cide on Sandy Beach, a per­fect stretch of white sand and calm wa­ter, and spend the af­ter­noon in soli­tude, tak­ing end­less dips and mar­vel­ling at the beauty of this is­land.

An­other high­light is a day trip to nearby Pelorus Is­land. Staff drop us off by boat on this lush lit­tle trop­i­cal par­adise draped in pas­sion­fruit vines, frangi­pani trees and tall palms and sur­rounded by fring­ing reef.to­day our pic­nic has in­di­vid­ual bento boxes filled with huge fresh prawns, mini sand­wiches, a se­lec­tion of cheeses and sliced fruit, and per­fect lit­tle berry friands. Snorkelling and ad­mir­ing the abun­dance of brightly coloured fish, art­fully shaped co­ral and gi­ant clams is such a nice way to spend time to­gether on our own lit­tle is­land.

Sun­set cock­tails are at the tran­quil pool­side bar — we’re the only ones there most evenings — fol­lowed by an in­dul­gent daily-chang­ing four­course din­ner tai­lored to our in­di­vid­ual tastes in con­sul­ta­tion with ex­ec­u­tive chef Daniel Main, who wel­comes each guest on their first day to dis­cuss their pref­er­ences. How lux­u­ri­ous. Course after course is fresh, ex­pertly pre­pared and ab­so­lutely de­li­cious. Great Aus­tralian wines ac­com­pany meals, but for afi­ciona­dos, the mas­ter cel­lar list is well worth ex­plor­ing.the most mem­o­rable dish is raw tuna with tomato jelly, goat’s curd, cured egg yolk and bonito flakes, made even bet­ter by a wild bandi­coot scur­ry­ing across the dining room floor and hop­ping into the palm gar­den be­tween us and the sea.

Rooms are su­per spa­cious, fresh and mod­ern, open­ing out onto grass and ocean; our South Suite has a huge out­door bath and out­door lounges — per­fect for lap­ping up the lux­u­ri­ous seren­ity.

From top: pad­dle­board­ing on the Co­ral Sea, Queens­land; the in­fin­ity pool at Or­pheus Is­land Re­sort; mush­room gy­oza; the main pavil­ion lounge area; open-air dining at the main pavil­ion.

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