Piecing together a story I shot last year and my mind is transported back to the tropical paradise that is Orpheus Island. It’s one of those locations that you hear about on TV shows (like our Qld Weekend travel show) or read about in magazines but I never thought I would be boarding the helicopter to be whisked away to this 5 star resort. So when our Series Producer informed me it was the location for my next trip I had to literally pick my jaw up off the floor, just as I did when I found myself flying high above the Great Barrier Reef over azure blue waters and fringing reefs towards Orpheus.
Orpheus Island is off the coast of Townsville, from the airport it’s just 25 minutes of pretending to be a rock star in a chopper and you’re there. The island is quite large but the resort has an intimate feel. The great thing about Orpheus is they never take more than 34 guests, so it’s peaceful and not in any way crowded (and if you are an rock star, 1. thanks for reading my blog and 2. you can rent the whole island exclusively). I think there were only 2 other guests there actually when we visited and then 4 other media so it felt like our little secret hideaway.
Something that struck me immediately, actually before I had even left the office and I was at my desk chatting to the island staff on the phone, was how friendly and welcoming everyone I spoke to was. Maybe a side effect of living in paradise? Everyone not only has a smile on their face but they’re up for a chat, they pre-empt what you need, or are dreaming of, and they have just the perfect suggestion to make your holiday and unforgettable experience… did I say holiday of course I mean work day… ahem.
We did hit the ground running as there was a lot to shoot over the two days we were on the island, a dinghy tour to the clam garden where there are 65 giant clams all in the one spot. Brought over as a research project 30 years ago they are now an amazing spectacle to snorkel over or during some low tides the water level actually sinks below the level of the clams and there is an overture of clam spitting as they expel the sea water – check out Ben Southall’s video of the amazing squirting clams when he was on Orpheus.
Next on the agenda- shooting a picnic and interview with the Activities Manager Jacky at a secluded beach, definitely an assignment that I relish, I love my job! The picnic is part of the all-inclusive package for guest who just need to order ahead of time and notify the kitchen of when they plan to leave, then it’s all waiting for them, picnic blanket, gourmet bento box of chicken skewers, fish cakes, fruit, cheeses and if you so desire a cheeky bottle of bubbly as well. A romantic interlude if you’re there with someone special I’m sure. And we couldn’t let all that food go to waste… so we had to sample, and I must say it was a world above any picnic I’d ever prepared – divine!
And all that was just the beginning! It really is one of those places where time goes a little slower, the air is a little fresher, the colours are a little brighter and your grin is a little wider. Shooting the sun melt into the ocean that afternoon and I had to pinch myself. It was absolute magic, pinks and oranges dancing across the sky, the last rays still warming the air while a cool ocean breeze cooled the skin.
A rare night off shooting just happen to coincide with Orpheus’s degustation dinner, are they sure they want to invite us? I felt like I wasn’t worthy if I wasn’t shooting it for the show but Rachel the Marketing Manager was too kind and had no hesitation in saying that of course we were welcome to indulge in what was seriously one of the best meals of my life!
I am going to come clean and admit that it was my first, and to this date only degustation but it has set the bar to such lofty heights other contenders might need to invest in a pole vault or swiss alps type climbing gear before they attempt to out do this meal. The freshest of seafood prepared in such tasty morsels of flavour that my taste buds were doing pirouettes across my palate, and the piece de resistance as the fancy French would say, Orpheus have special wine pairings that guests can choose to accompany each dish. Yes thank you, thank you and thank you to Rachel and anyone else I can praise for that unforgettable culinary experience.
What I learnt from my degustation/wine pairing experience apart from the fact that I love degustation 1. Head Chef Ari Prabowo is a genius who should be bestowed with an award for his creations, 2. Orpheus’s resident wine guru may look young but is an expert and because he says Hunter Valley Semmions are some of the best in the world I’m going with that )and will repeat it to sound like I know what I’m talking about whenever the opportunity arises), oh and 3. Orpheus Island are serious when they talk about gourmet food, there food would impress at the finest restaurants in Australia and yet they are on an island miles from any suppliers.
And I must apologise, the dinner was so good I left my camera behind. Some things need to be absorbed with both eyes and my full attention and dinner at Orpheus is one of them. But the next night we were treated to an equally amazing Teppanyaki night, I click away on the camera so stay tuned for Orpheus Day 2!