Lunch on Our Private Beach, Lizard Island, Australia
This is no ordinary packed lunch…
We are about to set sail in our little motor boat, the Liz III, from Lizard Island’s main resort beach, off to explore Turtle Cove on the island’s southern coast. The boat is all ours – no co-passengers, no skipper, no guide. Just the two of us, our snorkelling gear, our underwater cameras and our enormous lunch – two eskies full of drinks and food that were hauled on board by the beach club crew, and now sitting low in the bow of our boat.
The complimentary use of the motorised dinghies is a first for us in our travels. While many beach resorts include “all non-motorised water sports,” being entrusted with some horsepower is unusual, particularly in Australia (with its somewhat “nanny-state” reputation). But seemingly a quick orientation is all that is required and we are on our way.
We putter off from the beach, round the rocky headland and we are soon at Turtle Bay. The promotional material for Lizard Island quotes “with 24 private beaches, you are sure to find one for you alone”, and today is no exception – we are the only people in sight. We drop anchor and set off snorkelling, looking for our underwater equivalent of the African big five – turtles, sharks (only little ones please), rays, eels and anything colourful. But while fish abound, and a ray dashes past, the eponymous turtles remain elusive.
After an hour or so in the gloriously clear and warm water, we return to our boat for lunch. And what a lunch it is – one esky full of drinks (water, juices and wine) and one full of three courses of food. Prawns, salads, breads, poached chicken, sauces, desserts – we unpack it all with delight.
It is hard to imagine a more glorious way to spend a Tuesday. Alone in our vessel, moored metres off our own white sandy beach, we are shaded by the overhead canopy while sunlight twinkles through the iridescent water around us. We nibble our food and sip our wine in quiet contemplation, hypnotised by the beauty around us. A gazes off into space, staring as a nearby rock rises to the surface, then sinks back down, then rises to the surface again. Wait, what?!
She breaks free from her reverie to realise this is no rock, but a massive turtle, just alongside us. With a cry of excitement, A downs knife, fork and wine glass, don's her snorkel and dives in. D, slightly more circumspect, has the forethought to put most of our lunch back in an esky before jumping in alongside, and from there we head underwater to socialise with this magnificent beast, who seems as curious to check us out as we are him (or her).
Eventually we emerge, to find our craft has materialised a covering of gulls and other sea birds, drawn to the food we had left exposed (fortunately just prawn shells and salad!). We shoo them away and re-board, polishing off the rosé before heading home, sated and satisfied.
Definitely no ordinary picnic…