Paul WilsonIt’s hard to imagine, as I bash away on the keyboard trying to meet the editorial deadline for the magazine you’re holding in your hands, that just over a week ago, I was beetling along in a golf buggy at a blistering 20 kilometres per hour trying not to miss the media boat that was about to depart for the race course off Hamilton Island.

Yes, it was Hamilton Island Race Week, and I had donned my journalist’s cap once again to endeavour and capture the colour and excitement of this fabulous yachting regatta.

Tropical Hamilton Island in August is so far removed from wintry Melbourne. You feel like you could be on another planet! Island residents will sometimes refer to the island, tongue-in-cheek, as Fantasy Island. And it’s easy to see why.

On the surface, nothing seems to be an issue. Even when ownership concerns hit the island hard in 2003, along came Bob Oatley, and now in less than a year the island has a development plan moving forward that would make most mainland regions jealous.

Bob has retained the existing executive team, headed by CEO Wayne Kirkpatrick, and has tasked them with the responsibility of turning his dreams for the island into reality. And what grand dreams they are. It would appear that there isn’t a single aspect of the island that isn’t in line for an improvement of some sort.

Some $12million has already been spent on island infrastructure and planning. Work has also commenced on the construction of a road, Passage Peak Way, to the bay on the northern shore beneath Passage Peak, along which approximately 10 villas will be designed and constructed for sale. At the end of which a new luxury, small, private boutique hotel will be created to rival the very best properties in the Asia Pacific region.

Additional projects currently being designed for Hamilton Island include a boutique hotel at Hideaway Bay, a villa development at the Northern Marina site, and completion of the marina, including the Marina All Suites Hotel with more cafés, restaurants, bars, retail outlets and another 100 marina berths. This is in addition to the Fauna Park project and Northpoint. There is also an 18-hole international championship golf course and a residential project well down the road to being approved on neighbouring Dent Island, which was part of the original purchase.

And in case you didn’t already know, Bob Oatley is a committed boatie, more specifically, a committed yachtie! In 2003, he along with good mate Colin O’Neil, took on and beat the world’s best to bring back to Australia the highly prestigious and most sought after Admiral’s Cup.

So the island’s boating-centric commitment is set to remain, and the future of Race Week is assured.

Also in this magazine is a wrap-up of the record-breaking 2004 Sydney International Boat Show, co-sponsored by Club Marine; a pictorial essay on the historic and idyllic Lake Como region in Italy by celebrated photographer Bill Bachmann, a technical piece on identifying and handling corrosion on boats, a retrospective of the Port of Sale region by Mike Quist, and a dramatic coastline pictorial by Andrew Brown. This is in addition to Steve Timmons’ lighted-hearted account of catching mud crabs in the Top End, reminiscent of Henry Lawson’s ‘campfire yarns’.

Enjoy the magazine and remember that your safety is our top priority!