Leaving the autumn and winter chill of New South Wales, my next stop was Queensland and her islands; Hamilton and Lizard. All were ‘firsts’ for me and landing on Hamilton Island, in the Whitsunday Islands, and boarding a chopper for a flight over the Great Barrier Reef and to Whitehaven Beach, was where I stopped trying to convince friends and family that I really was working very hard. Whitehaven Beach, named like so many Australian things, perfectly descriptively – Cape Tribulation and Tasty Cheese are two others that spring immediately to mind – is an immaculate strip of some seven or so kilometres that must have just been vacuumed. Touching down and stepping out was quite a moment. Sadly only a quick stop was permitted, just enough to get my toes wet and sandy (kindly brushed off by the pilot who took the “leave only footprints, take only pictures” adage seriously, or maybe he just didn’t want sand on the floor) before I was whisked away. Usually you’ll experience a beach picnic, an hour or so beachcombing and a swim. Flying low over the reef, the matrix of colours is formidable and the size of the reef more so. Heart Reef, aptly named (if you’re at the right angle, squinting and in a romantic frame of mind) was a highlight as were spotting turtles and rays from the air. Magical.