Imagine waking up with a different view every day, snorkelling before breakfast, breathing in salty sea air, and relaxing as the sun sets over the water while you nosh on seafood and guzzle a glass of wine, or five.
Something a little like this…
Nice huh? Could it even be the perfect way to see the Whitsundays Islands? Seriously! A private yacht means setting your own schedule, designing your own itinerary and, because the accommodation comes with you, the kids can sleep, eat, pee and poop whenever the mood strikes.
Queensland Yacht Charters’ four cabin sailing catamaran “Seachange” with the fabulous Christophe at the helm, offered us a perfect intro to family sailing. But, if you’d prefer to skipper yourself, you don’t really require much sailing experience. Queensland Yacht Charters’ can organise a sail guide to show you all the need-to-know stuff like turning it on and steering. They’ll also take you through navigation and marine park regulations, anchoring and sail handling… which may also come in handy if you plan on actually leaving the mooring. Plus they check in by radio several times a day to keep you up to date with weather. And, if you still think it sounds like hard work, worry not! These boats come with an autopilot function and a perfectly good motor, so you don’t even have to raise the sails unless you want to.
Now, as anyone who’s ever met me would know, sloth comes second only to gluttony as my favourite of the deadly sins. So clearly I was all for sitting back and letting Christophe do all the hard work. And by hard work I mean set the autopilot so he could join us for a leisurely lunch of giant prawns and bugs with an amazing dressing he whipped up in seconds.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Christophe, as well as a charming host, was a cook in a previous career, meaning that gluttony also got a look in on this particular occasion. Bonus.
Once moored in the clear turquoise waters it was simply a matter of pulling on a snorkel and mask, flopping face first into the beautiful blue and swimming off to bother some fish. Which we did, repeatedly. There may also have been a bit of lolling about in the sun.
While dinner sizzled away on the yacht’s barbecue we watched the sky turn perfectly peachy as the sun set. In keeping with the theme of abject laziness, all of the food on board was supplied courtesy of Whitsunday Provisioning, who ensured our boat was chock full of goodies before we set sail. If we’d decided to do it ourselves, there were supermarkets in Airlie. And several bottleshops that sold perfectly good alcohol. Airlie is good that way.
At night, before the lapping water gently rocked us to sleep in our cosy double berth cabins, we lay on the deck and gazed at an incredible inky black sky dotted with thousands of stars, picking out constellations and making crazy wishes on shooting stars. Mind you, I’m not all that big on everyone’s wishes coming true because if they did – between Sugarpuff and Raffles – I’d be living in a hot pink sequinned house with several armed and mutated pizza scoffing reptiles. But, as per usual, I digress.
After our blissful yachting adventure we headed back to Airlie to eat some of the fish we’d met because, frankly, that’s just the kind of people we are. There are plenty of great spots to enjoy seafood in Airlie Beach, but the best place in town has to be Fish D’vine, where we devoured salt and pepper tempura crocodile with a lemon myrtle aioli (tastes like chicken).
Followed by perfectly cooked Barramundi with macadamia nut and basil pesto and a sublime wok-fried Thai chilli mud crab that had us donning glamorous paper bibs so we could slurp and suck at it with unabashed gusto. Chalk up another win for gluttony!
Fish D’Vine, which is very kid friendly (mine rate their fish and chips the best ever), also boasts a Rum Bar with a startling collection of more than 450 different rums so those of us over the age of 18 also enjoyed a few insanely good mojitos and a volcanic “Squeaky in a Tiki” because well, alcohol.
Though the Whitsundays are closer and more affordable to get to than ever for us now Tigerair Australia has launched a direct Sydney to Whitsunday Coast Airport service, we may need to leave it a bit more than two weeks between visits. So for now, inspired by the fishy and fabulous flavours of the Whitsundays, we’ve come up with this Macadamia and lemon myrtle crusted barramundi to take us back… with our tastebuds.
Macadamia and lemon myrtle crusted barramundi with tempura zucchini flowers
4 x 150g Barramundi fillets
For the crust
1/2 cup Macadamia Nuts
1/2 cup fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
1 tbsp lemon myrtle, roughly chopped
For the zucchini flowers
80 grams corn flour
80 grams of plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
100 ml soda water
250 ml Olive Oil
- Place nuts, lemon myrtle and breadcrumbs in a food processor and pulse until it is roughly crumbled.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Coat the fish in lightly beaten egg.
- Coat with the nut crumble pressing the mixture in firmly with fingertips and set aside.
- Mix corn flower, plain flower, baking powder and soda water to coat zucchini flowers.
- Heat oil to medium in a fry pan.
- Shallow fry zucchini flowers until golden and set aside.
- In a pan heat a generous splash of olive oil.
- Pan fry fish on each side for two-three minutes (depending on thickness) at medium heat.
- Serve immediately with a light salad, aioli and lemon wedges.
Disclosure: The lovely folk at Tigerair Australia provided my flight to and from Proserpine and Queensland Yacht Charters’ hosted the overnight sailing adventure.