Tropical island eats

It’s just on lunchtime and Cheong Liew is wandering the sea shore, hunting for oysters for my dinner. Oh yeah, baby, we’ve landed in paradise on earth. 

Orpheus Island is a hilly dot in the Palm Islands group, 80km off the coast of Townsville. Lashed by cyclonic winds last year, the resort recently reopened, and if it plays its cards right, will be one of those hideaways where sneaky celebs have no need for wearing wigs or 80s fashion. 

It’s not like there are many crowds.

Orpheus used to be described as exclusive, taking just 24 lucky guests. While it’s still being repaired after Cyclone Yasi whipped the roofs off half the accommodation, the resort can take just 16 guests. That makes us even more special.

The only way to the resort is chopper, or sea plane if you’re a bigger group. It’s just 30 minutes from Townsville in the little four-seater eggbeater, and we skim over uninhabited islands, little atolls, a former leper colony and Palm Island, with a local population of 2000-3000 indigenous people.

The island was bought by a Melbourne businessman who also lured Cheong away from Adelaide to ramp up the menus at the Botanical, in South Yarra, where Arie has also worked. That same businessman also managed to spirit the pair away for a stint on the island, which is still being repaired and renovated. So it it is my absolute great fortune to be one of just five guests (including my wunderkind), on the island for the past two days. How do you go back to normal life after this?

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