From prestigious events to world-class cultural encounters and fabulous natural attractions, here are 12 defining reasons to include Hamilton Island, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, in an Australian itinerary in 2012: JANUARY Visitors to Hamilton Island have over 60 activities to choose from including go-karting, bushwalking, scuba diving, parasailing, squash, tennis, fishing, sailing, kayaking, target sports and windsurfing, not to mention the new nine-pin indoor Kegel bowling alley, perfect for anyone wanting to learn a new skill for 2012. FEBRUARY Whether you plan to pop the question or tie the knot, there is no more romantic month than February on Hamilton Island. From a seaplane ‘Love Flight’ over magnificent Heart Reef to an underwater ceremony or a pontoon wedding, Hamilton Island has it covered. Hamilton Island Weddings also have the only commercial permit in Australia to conduct ceremonies on Whitehaven Beach, in the middle of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Why not treat your loved one to some ‘Romance on the Reef‘. The three-night Valentine’s package costs from AU$4,218 per Leeward pavilion (twin share), including three nights’ accommodation at qualia, a trip to Whitehaven Beach by helicopter with a picnic and a sunset cruise on the “Atomic”, qualia’s luxury power boat. MARCH Indulge in some pampering for body and soul this month at Hamilton Island’s fabulous spas. Whether you want to unwind at Spa wumurdaylin (“woo-mer-day-lin”), the Island’s first full service day spa, or revel in total pampering at the luxury Spa qualia you’re ensured of an authentic Australian wellbeing nirvana. APRIL Audiences inspired by the BBC documentary, ‘Great Barrier Reef’, can escape for their own close encounters with this most spectacular natural wonder with a reef-freshing break on Hamilton Island. April is the perfect month to check in to the Fantasea Reefworld pontoon in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, which by night transforms itself into a private floating hotel. Following a night on Hamilton Island, guests cruise out to the Reefworld pontoon at Hardy Reef where a range of activities, including semi-submersible tours and the underwater viewing chamber, allows them to explore the reef from both in and out of the water. MAY As Olympians prepare for London 2012, this month offers the ideal warm up with the Hilly Half Marathon challenge, which takes place on Sunday 6th May. A rugged 21-kilometre route uphill and down dale, the Westpac Hilly Half Marathon follows road, fire trails and walking tracks through Hamilton Island’s undulating interior. JUNE The island plays host to the annual Hamilton Island Cup from 14th – 18th June 2012, Australia’s largest outrigger event and one of the world’s largest canoe regattas. Last year over 1000 paddlers took part from all over Australia plus international teams from Hong Kong, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Canada. The Cup features more than 100 sprint and medium-distance races. The main event is the 42-kilometre marathon Hamilton Cup, an impressive sight for spectators as the canoes circle Hamilton Island and race through the Whitsundays. JULY Foodies should flock to Hamilton Island to enjoy the ultimate food and wine event, set against the stunning backdrop of the Whitsundays. The Great Barrier Feast kicks off with guest chef, Guillaume Brahimi, (6th – 8th July 2012) from the much-applauded Sydney Opera House flagship restaurant, Bennelong. This month, Hamilton Island also plays host to a special photography workshop with two of Australia’s best known photographers, David Oliver and Peter Eastway. AWAY in the Whitsundays photography course runs from 29th July – 3rd August 2012, offering the opportunity for hands on expert tuition in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. AUGUST This is the month that Hamilton Island hosts Australia’s largest and most prestigious off-shore yachting event – Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 17th – 25th August 2012. From serious offshore racing and fabulous super-yachts to onshore glitz, glamour and gourmet fare, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week offers guests the opportunity to experience the best the Whitsundays has to offer. This is also an ideal time for family travel – Australia’s winter is mild and comfortable for younger members of the family. Excursions to the Great Barrier Reef, snorkelling safaris and a trip to see the island’s koalas, kangaroos and wombats at ‘Wild Life Hamilton Island’ make holidays for children both educational and fun. Accommodation and meals in selected restaurants are free for children up to the age of 15, whilst the Clownfish Club offers activities for children up to 14 years. SEPTEMBER September is whale watching season when visitors can see baby humpbacks that have been born in the warm waters of the Whitsundays, travelling past the coast in pod sizes of between eight and ten whales. Whales, which can vary in length from five to 18 metres, can also been seen in their migrating season (June to September) from Hamilton Island itself. OCTOBER Since Captain Cook charted Australia’s coastline in the 1700s, the Whitsunday Islands have been recognised as one of the best sailing playgrounds in the world. Sunsail’s Sailing Academy on Hamilton Island offers a wide range of accredited marine qualifications for yachts, catamarans and motorboats, with tuition for beginners and experienced sailors alike. After offshore action, wind down at the iconic Hamilton Island Yacht Club. NOVEMBER The Australian Ballet returns for the fifth consecutive year to give an intimate outdoor performance at Hamilton Island’s luxury resort, qualia. Pas de Deux in Paradise will be staged from 16th – 18th November 2012. Also this month, the Fujifilm Triathlon (10th November 2012) and Fujifilm Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim and Junior Triathlon (11th November 2012) take in some of the Whitsunday’s most iconic locations for a sporting epic. DECEMBER Time for a round of golf on Australia’s only 18-hole championship golf course situated on its own island. The 6,120 metre, par 71, course is located on Dent Island, a five minute boat ride from Hamilton Island. Created by five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson, the course is gaining a reputation as one of the world’s top courses not least because of the stunning Whitsunday views from each hole. The crowning glory of the course is the Chris Beckingham-designed clubhouse, ideally perched to take in the fantastic views of Passage Peak and the Coral Sea. The clubhouse offers an idyllic spot for non-golfing partners to relax over a laid-back lunch or for golfers to take stock of the day’s game over a cold beer.
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