Enjoying an escape on Wilson Island

Wilson Island
Wilson Island
Miss JC Newbald is pictured with an assistant, Mrs G Cowd

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Standing on a white sandy beach, drinking a glass of Champagne and watching the sun go down, it’s hard to imagine life could get much better.

Then you turn round and see some tiny turtles hatching and Wilson Island really does feel like the best place in the world to be.

Australians are pretty well known for being more than happy to shout about their good points but Wilson is one thing they’d like to keep secret.

It’s a tiny island on the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, and it offers the ultimate desert island experience.

It has six ‘tents’ – which are as far from the soggy camping holidays my parents took me on as possible – and a maximum of just 12 people can stay at a time.

Each tent has a proper double bed and a veranda with a double hammock – perfect for reclining with a drink and a book.

There’s only two members of staff, an amazing chef who cooks your breakfast, lunch and dinner and a host who takes care of everything else. If you feel like a cocktail at 11am, no problem.

You’re staying on one of the seven natural wonders of the world and seconds after leaving your tent you can enjoy some of the best snorkelling in the world in clear turquoise water.

We saw turtles, rays, black tip reef sharks, which look a bit scary but we were assured are friendly and countless species of fish.

On the island there’s no mobile phone reception, no laptops, no television or radio. We stayed for two nights and it felt like a proper escape from the world.

The Aussie guests we spoke to were amazed we had even heard of Wilson as most of them had only just discovered it.

Nine miles away is the more family orientated Heron Island, where we enjoyed a couple of nights.

Our room was right on the beach, looking out to the sea.

Heron is larger and offers plenty of activities to keep kids entertained.

There’s a junior ranger’s club for youngsters, organised reef walks, whale watching trips, snorkelling and diving, star-gazing talks and more.

Here the question most fellow guests asked was ‘Is this your first time on Heron?’

That’s because for many of them it’s not – people love the place and they go again and again.

The spa on Heron offers a range of treatments and my wife tells me her massage was the best she’s ever had.

There’s no keys for your rooms and you don’t pay for anything until the end which means you don’t have to carry things round with you when you head to the beach.

It also helps create a nice, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

You can get to the islands by boat from Gladstone or, if you’re feeling flush, a helicopter.

Just on the boat out we saw dolphins and a shark that my wife said was two metres long. It wasn’t but that’s what you get after years of lying about measurements.

We arrived in the sunshine and right from the beginning it’s all about relaxing and enjoying yourself.

Your bags are whisked off to your room and you’re left to explore the island, head to the bar, where each night there’s live music or just relax.

Heron and Wilson are two amazing islands that made for one brilliant holiday.

Afterwards, in the taxi back to the airport the driver, with typical Aussie confidence, said: ‘So when are you moving out to Australia?’

It’s a good question.


A night on Heron Island is available from £128 per person per night based on twin share, including all meals.

A boat transfer from Gladstone to the island is £68 per person each way. For those who want to travel in style, a helicopter transfer costs £295 per person each way.

For more information, go to heronisland.com

A stay on the more exclusive Wilson Island starts from £360 per person per night based on twin share, including all meals, drinks and transfers from Heron Island.

For more details, go to wilsonisland.com

Trips to the islands are bookable through Tailor Made Travel. Call 0845 456 8050 or go to tailor-made.co.uk

We flew to Australia from Heathrow, via Dubai, with Emirates. Go to emirates.com