by Jeni Bone
Plenty of rumours abound as to the destination of William and Kate post-nuptials. And Lizard Island tops the list. Considering the global TV audience will top 2 billion, the Royal couple will no doubt be in need of some R&R on an extreme scale.
Lizard Island from the air.
If they are staying at the exclusive island retreat, nobody is breathing a word, as discretion is one of the major attributes of the resort, along with its idyllical location on the Reef, bountiful sealife and utter luxury in accommodation and cuisine.
It all started when William dropped several hints while he was in Cairns and FNQ last month about his desire to dive on the Reef and bring his betrothed to explore its wonders. Now, Queenslanders are readying for a second visit of the Heir to the Throne and his new Princess.
No doubt, in a scale to rival Oprah and her entourage, any visit by William and Kate will bring huge international interest in the tiny enclave and Australia's own Natural Wonder, the Great Barrier Reef, ensuring a much needed boost to the tourism coffers of Queensland, still reeling from the impact of the recent summer of storms and flooding.
1624 km northwest of Brisbane, Lizard Island is located right on the Great Barrier Reef, just north of Cooktown, and is Australia’s northernmost island beach resort. It was so named for its plentiful lizards by Captain Cook when he ended up in its shallows on 12 August 1770.
The reefs and waters that so confounded Captain Cook are now a magnet for marine biologists, scientists and game fishing enthusiasts. Lizard Island is now home to one of the most important reef research stations in the world, as well as a luxurious resort that is popular with those looking for utter seclusion and azure sea as far as one can see.
The Island boasts 24 powdery-white beaches and 40 luxurious suites. Cuisine is one of its drawcards. Ospreys Restaurant has a menu that changes daily, showcasing the finest local produce and freshest seafood.
The accolades are as plentiful as the wildlife. Lizard Island was voted as the top hotel in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific and one of the top 100 hotels and resorts in the world at the 2008 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards. In the 2009 Gold List Awards, Lizard Island was voted second in the category 'Best Australian Resort'.
Lizard Island is a National Park covering 1,013 hectares with 24 sandy beaches and a lagoon. Our resort is easily accessible from Cairns.
The waters surrounding Lizard Island boast some of the most exciting fishing in the world. From September to December each year Black Marlin, some weighing a massive 1,000 pounds or more, are caught here.
Thanks to the rigorously enforced tag and release policy operating for the past 10 years, the chances of catching (and releasing!) a legendary ‘Grander’ in the waters off Lizard are considered by the experts better than anywhere else on earth. Hemingway would be envious.
But it’s not exclusively for old salts. Whether you’re a seasoned big game fisherman, or it’s your first time in the chair, the resort and plenty of other game fishing operators in the area are on hand to make the experience memorable.
The famous Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic is held over seven days in October each year, attracting 70 to 100 anglers from all over Australia and around the world, eager to taste the thrill of the pursuit and fight one-on-one with one of the Marlin species.
Bob Lowe is President of the Lizard Island Game Fishing Club, host of the Classic, which is scheduled to suit the moon and tides and consequently, changes its dates each year.
Although a resident of Sydney, Bob heads to Lizard each year on his Mariner 43 ‘Rebel’ as religiously as the fish he chases, clocking up 28 years this year.
Lizard is surrounded by the Coral Sea, the breeding ground of the massive Marlin of game fishing legend.
Bob is adamant the tournament and fishing in the region offers 'the best heavy tackle fishing in the world'. This year’s event attracted 76 anglers from 11 countries, all of them pitting their wiles and weapons against the Black, Blue and Striped Marlin.
What appeals most to veterans like Bob is 'getting the right rigging, the skill of the boat driver and angler to locate, land and then tag and release the biggest fish possible'.
Anglers’ data and observations are invaluable for the Australian Institute of Marine Science researchers interested in the breeding and behavioural habits of the Marlin, their population numbers and their response to rising sea temperatures. The Game Fish Tagging Program of NSW Department of Primary Industries has relied on charter and private angler data for its information on migrations, species numbers and recapture rates.
Bob says it’s a part of game fishing his members embrace with gusto, to ensure the future of the sport and preservation of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.
'There are Green Zones where we may not fish,' he explains, 'but there is plenty of area where the tournament covers – from Jewel Reef to Cairns, starting at Lizard Island each day.'
Last year the event was held 17 to 23 October, while the 2011 event has been slated for 1 to 8 October, to coincide with the moon, tides and best fishing.
There is no place like Lizard, Bob asserts. 'It’s a great destination. Competitors stay at the Lodge, or raft up to mother ships, or live aboard charter or private boats during the tournament. We keep gentlemen’s hours, starting at 11am and finishing at 5pm, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy snorkelling, diving, lazing around and soaking up the scenery.'
Attractions of the Pelagic and Reef kinds:
Outer Reef Fishing
The outer reef fishing grounds can be reached in 50 minutes. The fish caught in this area include Mackerel, Tuna, Trevally, Mahi-mahi, Sailfish and even small Black Marlin at certain times of the year. Fishing tackle of the highest quality is provided.
Inner Reef Fishing
A short 15-minute boat ride takes you to the inner reef fishing grounds. This spectacular area is comprised of three reef systems, which are home to an amazing variety of fish including Mackerel, Queenfish, Trevally and other pelagic species.
Light Tackle Fishing
Some of the most exciting light tackle sports fishing can be enjoyed on Lizard Island. The motorboat, ‘Fascination III’ is available for both full and half-day charters, which can be tailored to suit guests’ needs. Many of the fish caught are of superb eating quality and can be prepared by the resort chefs.
Lizard Island is accessed by air from Cairns Airport in northern Queensland, Australia. Cairns Airport is accessible from all major Australian airports and directly from some cities in Asia.
More at www.lizardisland.com.au and www.lizardislandgfc.asn.au