OLYMPIAN IAN THORPE’S LOCAL TIPS FOR HAMILTON ISLAND
Former Australian professional swimmer Ian Thorpe shows us why Hamilton Island in Queensland's Whitsunday Islands should be on everyone’s travel list with his top recommendations.
Former Australian Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals in his hugely successful career, the greatest total of any Australian. Thorpe first took the world by storm when – at 15 years old – he won the 1998 world 400-metre freestyle title in Perth, Western Australia, making him the youngest world champion in history. Here, Ian let's us in on his tips for a great trip to Hamilton Island.
Where to stay
What to do
'Cossie' is Aussie slang for swimming costume, but it's not the only nickname you'll hear. Locals also use the terms togs, bathers, swimmers and boardies.
On my last trip up to the Whitsundays, I took a helicopter flight out to Heart Reef – a coral formation in the Great Barrier Reef that is naturally shaped like a heart. It was incredible taking in the islands from the sky, and there's even a pontoon called Heart Island where you can land for a swim and snorkel – make sure you bring your cossie. You also need to visit Whitehaven Beach while you’re up in the Whitsundays; it's 7 kilometres (4 miles) of paradise!
I love Hamilton Island and I try to visit as often as I can. For me, it's about having the chance to go out and explore the reef – you will see something different but equally beautiful every time.
Where to eat
Coca Chu on Hamilton Island is a delicious, easy place to have an Asian-inspired meal, and it’s not too expensive either. Plus, it’s got a great view overlooking Catseye Beach.
When to go
The Whitsundays consists of 74 separate islands, with at least as many beaches to choose from.
Hamilton Island is amazing to visit all year round, but it's especially good in August; Hamilton Island Race Week (a keelboat regatta) begins and the island really comes to life with events and the spectacular colours of the sails, water, reefs and beaches all combining together.