My Island Life Posted by Reef Magazine - 3 October 2013 My friendship with the Oatley’s, who own the island, goes back 30-odd years now. My business first supplied them with labels for Rosemount Estate wines and now I’m supplying labels for Robert Oatley Vineyards wines, so we go back a long way. But that’s not why I ended up on Hamilton Island. I always had a life-plan, if you will, that when I went into semi-retirement, I’d spend every winter in the tropics. I was born and bred in Adelaide, where everyone goes into hibernation in June, July and August. My father used to come to the Whitsundays, so finding my own winter hideaway went onto my bucket list. I ended up with companies based all over the world in my career, so I’d searched Hawaii and the Caribbean, but then I travelled up the Queensland coast and knew straight away I’d found it in Hamilton Island. I remember the first thing I thought: I’d never seen so many golf buggies! The ambulance was a buggy, there was the fire buggy, there were stretch buggies… I’m a bit of a petrol head – I’ve got a couple of Ferraris that I race – and I suddenly thought why the hell does everyone have such big cars when these things are sensational and get you around so admirably? But there are a lot of things that are very special about Hamilton Island. You’ve got jet aircraft flying right in here – when you land you’re only about 12 minutes from being in the pool. The weather during winter is sensational. It’s serene. The waters are crystal clear and you’ve got 70 or so islands of the Whitsundays to choose from – you could pull up to any number of beaches and be the only boat there. Where else in the world can you do that? So I bought a new apartment that was being built at The Edge and became a resident for Christmas 2006. I’ve still got that property, and two others – both four-bedroom Yacht Club Villas – as investments on Hamilton. I rent all three out in the holiday rental pool. Of course when we went into the GFC the island was affected, but property values have really come back. The Oatley’s long term marketing direction for the island in recent years has been absolutely extraordinary. Involvement in the ‘Best Job in the World’, the wedding on the beach on Sunrise and all of the events we have here give the island such a very, very high profile. The facilities they’ve put on the island, like the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the golf course and qualia, are incredible. The rest of the tourism market in Queensland has been very flat, but this year visitor numbers to Hamilton Island have grown substanitally which is great. The house I live in on Hamilton Island is called ‘Tradewinds’. On top of One Tree Hill on an acre of land, it was designed by Chris Beckingham, who designed and built qualia. It’s a beautiful place. Living here is one of the most extraordinary things I’ve done in my life. You’ll find me toasting the end of a day with a glass of Robert Oatley ‘Finisterre’ on the veranda – it faces west and looks out over the water, so we get sensational sunsets. There’s an outdoor barbecue and kitchen with a rotisserie, where I love entertaining. I Iove cooking. The two things people love to eat at my place are freshly caught fish and ‘Pete’s Roast’. I used to have a vineyard so primary production is of great interest to me – the property has a half-hectare of tropical garden I enjoy very much and the pool gets used a great deal, even in the six weeks of 21–24-degree weather we call winter here. The idea is that I spend six months at Hamilton Island catching marlin, Spanish mackerel and snapper and then the other half of the year, the summer, at Port Lincoln in South Australia catching crayfish and tuna. I guess I love the freedom of being on a boat – there are no ‘don’t park here’ signs, no ‘no u-turns’ – no signs. Until a phone rings you can feel like you’re on your own. I’ve taken the Hillstrand brothers, Andy and Johnathan from Deadliest Catch out fishing here. The first year I had Johnathan on board and we caught 15 good-size snapper, so the next year he had to bring his brother too. They love Hamilton Island for the fishing. It’s very good and a bit of a secret. Sure, I’ve got secret spots and I use sonar and fish finders that help me locate wrecks and the fish hanging around them, but you really only need to be half a fisherman with a little knowledge to have a feed of fish every night in the Whitsundays. I’ve had so many friends from all over the world here, and so many birthdays and functions, and the strongest memory I have is that people always arrive with a smile on their face and leave with a tear in their eye and a promise to return - and they normally do. The charisma and the natural beauty of the island gets to people. They also get a bit of a surprise about the infrastructure. You can feel a world away but you’re not. That’s a very comforting thing. There aren’t that many people who live on the island as I do but there’s a great sense of community. When I go past the post office, Ray, the postmaster, just nips out the back and grabs my mail for me. It’s lovely. When you get to a position in life that I am fortunate enough to have, you have to give something back to community. I’ve donated a 32-foot ocean-going racing yacht called Mentor to the Hamilton Island Yacht Club for the training of staff on the island. My 70-tonne custom game-fishing boat, Born to Battle, starts the races during Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, is lead boat for the Clash of the Paddles event and also hosts VIPs – it’s become a bit of a promotional boat for the island. No, there’s not a chance of getting bored up here. We have a twilight yacht race every Wednesday night and then a barbecue to follow so that’s a lot of fun. I’m a life member of International Game Fishing Association [Teakle won the 2013 Great Marlin Race, which was associated with a Stanford University research programme] and the Hamilton Island Yacht Club and also of Lizard Island research. I’ve recently taken up golf again, too, the course here is the most stunning I’ve ever seen. Tomorrow night I’m dining down at Pebble Beach restaurant at qualia. They have two very special dishes – the hot seafood platter and the cold seafood platter – and both are exceptional. I reckon you can learn about fish from two people: one’s an Executive Chef, which is Alastair Waddell at qualia, and the other is a fisherman which is me. About the Author 'REEF Magazine – Hamilton Island & the Great Barrier Reef' is a magazine that showcases all that Hamilton Island has to offer, from events, to an exciting array of activities, attractions and more. You can pick up your complimentary copy of 'REEF Magazine' at any Hamilton Island hotel, and you can also access some of our feature articles right here on The Island Blog.