October 13, 2014 § 1 Comment
I’ve been inundated with a request for info on trail running on Hamilton.
I walked up to the reception desk and asked for a map of the island. The concierge wordlessly slid a piece of paper across the counter towards me. It was a map of the resort accommodation, pools and shuttle bus routes. ‘No, I mean a map of the island,’ I said. This time, I received a bushwalking guide. Much better!
There are two warnings on the back. The first is about Irukandji jellyfish during summer months. If we must swim in the sea instead of the ‘many resort pools’, we are urged to wear a stinger suit. The second is about hydration. The official recommendation is to drink ‘1-2 litres of water per hour’. Two litres! Per hour! Tim Noakes would have a fit.
There are three main entry points to the trails on Hamilton Island: at Palm Valley, Resort Scenic Trail and the eastern end of Catseye Beach. All of them climb steeply uphill to join a fire trail that runs along the backbone of the island. From there you can choose to take side tracks to various beaches, headlands and lookouts. There’s a half marathon every year that takes in almost all of them – sounds like huge fun.
The most obvious target is Passage Peak, the highest point on the island. Only 239 metres above sea level, but remember that for once you actually do start at sea level, and it’s only two kilometres from the nearest parking spot for your golf buggy. The final pitch is quite steep in places (averages 18%) and features plenty of steps and rocks for technical fun.
Tragically I never managed to hit the hills very hard because it was so damn hot (even in October). I was sweating from places that I’ve never sweated from before. The ridge top fire trail is fairly exposed to the sun and you’re always working; there’s very little flat ground and the steep parts feature loose cover that you have to pay attention to both uphill and down.
The view from Passage Peak is terrific, of course, and has the added bonus of popping you out where you can catch the breeze (and your breath). Famous Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island is just visible to the north. There are other tempting looking islands and peaks in the Lindeman group to the east and south. The resort and main beach (Catseye) is visible from an adjacent lookout to the south and west.
The out-and-back options are far enough off the beaten path that you will probably have them to yourself. We didn’t see anyone else at Escape Beach, Coral Cove or South East Head. Most visitors to an island resort are there to take it easy; if you do put some legwork in you’ll be rewarded with Crusoe-style solitude.
You won’t rack up a lot of distance on Hamilton. In four outings we covered just 4.1, 8.4, 9.8 and 13.5 kilometres. But you’ll score a decent amount of vertical over a short distance; 200, 400, 550 and 750 metres of climb respectively, and the same amount of descent. So between that and all the sweating, it’s a pretty good workout. And after all, you are on holiday.
The best bit is that you get to collapse in your pick of swimming pools at the end. You’ll find those on the resort map 🙂