Bedarra Island, Queensland: Travel guide and things to do

In 1770 Captain Cook became the first European to sail up the eastern coast of Australia. His achievement in weaving his way through the unchartered waters of the Great Barrier Reef is, by any measure, one of the marvels of navigation.

On 8 June, 1770 Cook sailed the Endeavour into a group of islands which he named the Family Group. This islands comprised Coonanglebah (which Cook renamed 'Dunk' after Lord Montague Dunk, the Earl of Sandwich and First Lord of the Admiralty) 'The Father', Bedarra 'The Mother', Toolghar and Coomba 'The Twins' and Kurrumbah, Budjoo and Coolah 'The Triplets.'

In his journal Cook describes finding 'a parcel of Small Islands laying off the Northern point of the Bay, and, finding a Channel of a Mile broad between the 3 Outermost and those nearer the Shore, we pushed through. While we did this we saw on one of the nearest islands a Number of Natives collected together, who seemed to look very attentively upon the Ship; they were quite naked, and of a very Dark Colour, with short hair.'

These Aborigines called Bedarra 'Biagurra'. Later it would become Allason Island and, reputedly because E. J. Banfield (see Dunk Island) did not hear Biagurra correctly, it became Bedarra.

The island was first settled by Europeans when Captain Henry Allason bought the island from the Queensland Lands Department for $20 in 1913. The island then went through a number of ownership changes until 1957 when Ken and Cynthia Druitt bought the island and subsequently opened a small resort.

Things to see

Vital Information About the Island
1. The Island Itself

Location

Five kilometres off the Queensland coast, midway between Townsville and Cairns and approximately 6.5 km south of Dunk Island.

Description of the island
Lush tropical rainforests. Secluded beaches. Occasional hidden coves.

How do visitors access it?
Access is via Dunk Island. The majority of guests access the island via regular domestic and international flights into Cairns, followed by a scenic flight to Dunk Island (operated by Macair) and a 15-minute launch transfer to Bedarra Island . There is also a launch service which operates twice daily between Mission Beachand Dunk Island.

Activities on the island
Sailboarding, tennis, bushwalking, snorkelling, paddleskiing and catamaran sailing. Rods, reels, bait, tackle and a fishing dinghy are also available.

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2. Resort on the Island

History

Ken and Cynthia Druitt bought the Bedarra Hideaway area, cultivated the existing gardens and developed a small tourist resort in 1957. In that same year Colin Scott, a grazier from Victoria, bought the area of Bedarra Bay and operated it as a private retreat. In 1979 it was sold to Tor Hulten who converted the property into a small tourist resort called Toranna Plantation. In 1980 Australian Airlines, the owners of Dunk Island Resort, bought Ken Druitt's section of the island and opened the original Bedarra Hideaway Resort in August 1981. Earlier that year Australian Airlines had also purchased the Toranna Plantation side of Bedarra and operated it as a day resort for Dunk Island guests. Today Bedarra stands on the old Toranna Plantation site. Bedarra Hideaway has been closed since Oct 1991 but is accessible by rainforest track or by dinghy. In late 1997, the Bedarra Island Resort was purchased by P & O Australian Resorts who refurbished it the following year.

How big is it?
13 private villas (5 split-level and 9 two-storey), two exclusive pavilions and two well appointed Point Suites; all with views to the beach and bay. The resort also has a freshwater swimming pool, restaurant with outdoor terrace, lounge with 24-hour open bar and island boutique. From 1 April 2007 all beverages included in the tariff.

Who does it appeal to?
People who value their privacy and enjoy life's more exclusive pleasures. Children under 16 are not catered for.

Free activities
Everything on the island is free including, famously, the open bar which encourages visitors to make their own cocktails (there are cocktail mixing books available) and provides a vast array of boutique wines including bottles of Bollinger champagne.

Bushwalking
There are two pleasant walks on the island. (a) a short walk from the Resort which goes down to Wedgerock Bay and then follows the coastline around offering excellent views of 'The Twins' and Pee-Rahm-Ah Island from Swiftlet Rock. It joins up with the main road from the Resort to the Pontoon. (b) A walking track across the island to the old Hideaway Resort. It starts behind Villa 9 at the Resort and winds through rainforest to the western side of the island. The walk takes approximately 40 minutes one way.

Other activities
Slip away to a secluded bay with a gourmet hamper and your very own dingy. Relax and indulge in a therapeutic massage from the comfort of your villa. You may choose to take a scheduled snorkelling and scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef, or take a private reef fishing trip or sailing charter.

Eating at the resort
All (gourmet) meals are included in the tariff served either alfresco on the terrace, or in the restaurant, with a focus on fresh local seafood.

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