Escape reality on exclusive Orpheus Island

Rachael Burnett
(Australian Associated Press)


It’s become a cliche that exclusive tropical resorts have the power to magically dismiss the stressful detritus that builds up on our souls throughout life.

The Orpheus Island Resort, off the coast of north Queensland, is the reason why.

As my helicopter soars over the Great Barrier Reef on our way to the resort, it occurs to me that I’m not escaping the proverbial grind of reality. I’m just trading one reality for another.

And with views like these, I don’t want to trade back.

If anything, Orpheus presents a heightened reality: drinks constantly on hand, decadent food, deep blue water and unspoiled beaches. Without overbearing waiters hovering around you all the time, this could easily be mistaken for a dream.

Only 28 dreamers are allowed on Orpheus at a time. The resort’s 14 rooms accentuate the secluded atmosphere, while the dining options, like the roomy verandah, where you can enjoy meals and a cheeky drop, underline it.

There’s a distinctly un-hotel feel to the resort, and it’s clearly by design. It’s easier to unwind when you feel like you’re staying at a rich friend’s house.

My room has eschewed the stale welcome mint approach for a complete cheeseboard and fruit platter partnered with a bottle of champagne, which I can enjoy on my own private terrace with ocean views.

Make that a very rich friend.

The island’s agenda is very firmly centred on relaxation: you’d think hammocks grew on palm trees here. I could get a lot of reading done, but there’s too much else to do.

The enticing ocean views offered by just about every vantage point on Orpheus are a little too inviting: I want to get out on it or deep beneath it. Fortunately, both options are on the table.

Snorkelling is a given at a place like this, but there’s nothing routine about the galaxy of aquatic life on parade beneath the waves. At one point, I’m surrounded by a cloud of fish, and the colours threaten to overwhelm me. I let them.

Back on the shore, crabs and stingrays look on as I remove my mask and prepare for the cruise.

The neighbouring island is accessible by boat, but the Orpheus resort wouldn’t just put you on a dinghy and hope for the best. That’s why I’m on a sunset cruise, enjoying a lychee martini and a grazing platter. The word spoiled comes to mind.

Orpheus is home to bushwalks with eye-popping views from Picnic Bay. Again, I’m drawn to the water, so I grab a kayak and paddle into the mangrove forest.

Stingrays languidly comb the shallows and tiny crabs scuttle along the mangrove roots as I drift by. The only sound is the gentle lapping of the water against my kayak.

Up ahead, a deserted beach calls me over for a swim. Who am I to s