The helicopter sways slightly then leans forward, gliding us away from Townsville and out toward the shimmering blue ocean.
Our friendly Nautilus Aviation pilot explains that we might incur the softest of bumps as we glide over two small mountain peaks. Islands appear in view, sprinkled in the ocean - an image synonymous with the great barrier reef.
We’re on our way to Orpheus Island, a luxury resort a scenic thirty minutes flight from Townsville airport by helicopter. Our pilot tells us the names of islands as we pass them, magnetic to the right, we fly over rattlesnake & Havannah and pass the inhabited Palm Island before finally arriving at our home for the weekend, Orpheus.
Orpheus is a national park, wild and beautiful with a simple jetty reaching out to sea. We fly in a make sharp right towards the resort, landing on the islands heli pad, feeling as Rockstar as Elton John who was stayed at the property. We’re greeted by Chrissy, the Assistant General Manager and welcomed with a warmth we’ll enjoy the entire weekend.
Our one-year-old is in giggles as Chrissy reaches out to him, making him feel more than welcome at the five-star spot. We’re guided across the manicured lawn and we’re told its low tide and that we’re more than welcome to take a dingy out later on or a paddleboard or kayak, should we want to. I have visions of trying to kayak with my one year old and ensure Chrissy we’ll stay on land for this trip.
An infinity pool stretches out towards the ocean and deck chairs line it, providing views of the ocean. A second staff member greets us warmly and offers us mimosas for us and a juice for Xander. We pass the poolside bar and head inside one of the two open-air restaurants on site where we’re talked through the resort facilities and told that the plan is to have us as full and hydrated as possible, the entire stay.
The Executive Chef, Paul Wilson asks us if we need anything in particular for Xander - who he mentions by name - and we assure him that this child eats anything that isn’t tied down. We’re told todays lunchtime cuisine is Japanese and that it varies from day to day. Afterwards, the team talk us through the optional activities before we’re walked to our suite, a beautiful crisp white bungalow.
Inside it’s luxurious and chic, yet simple and functional - one large room divided by an island with a television either side making two functional rooms. Outside there’s a patio area with oversized couches to sit and enjoy the sound of nature. The bathroom is a wet room, with an open shower and two showerheads. Outside there’s an outdoor stone bath.
One of the many highlights of Orpheous would have to be the staff. Chrissy tells us she’s googled what our son might like and we see toys ready for him to explore - we’re thankful and he plays with them unaided for an hour later on.
We decide to put Xander down for a nap and we sit outside enjoying the sounds of the animals in the surrounding forest. We feel the flight to Townsville melt away as we collapse further into our seats, sipping on ice coffee. When our son wakes, we walk down to the beach - a stone’s throw from our room.
The water, clear and smooth, rolls into the sand and we sit and relax by it for a little while before heading to the pool. Guests greet each other as they pass. There are only fourteen suites on the island and daily excursions and meal times, so it’s no surprise visitors recognise each other. Thanks to the space though, you hardly feel like you’re imposing on anyone else’s space - it feels like you’re on holiday with your present party only.
The Japanese lunch is beautiful but it’s dinner that really shines. We enjoy a degustation on a table we’ve requested out on the board walk over the water. The food is delicious, highlights include the Moreton bay bug and a palette cleanser of boysenberry gelati served in an ice igloo we’re encouraged to smash and throw into the sea when we’re finished.
We have such a peaceful sleep and wake to the sounds of birds chirping outside our window. We’ve only stayed a night but the remoteness and natural beauty of the island makes us feel like we’ve been gone a week.
At their suggestion, the staff make us a hot breakfast to enjoy before the schedule breakfast service time, to cater to our early flight home.
We enjoy croissants, warm and buttery, fresh from the oven and a tray of fruit and yoghurt before our main of eggs. We leave begrudgingly and the staff wave at us below as our helicopter departs what already feels like a bit of a dream.