One of the best things you can do in the Whitsundays is to climb one of the many peaks for views over the more than 70 islands clustered just a short boat ride from the mainland. Be that as it may, I’d say that more than half the staff here at Club Med, Lindeman Island have never climbed Mt Oldfield.
Indeed, the morning after we’d returned from our Cyclone Yasi evacuation, people were visibly stunned when I suggested they come with me for a 10am climb.
Perhaps confusing Oldfield with Kiliminjaro, Kinabalu or Everest, it’s fascinating the dismay the mention of a 50 minute walk through moderately dense bush up a less than 300 metre hill inspires. Luckily I found fellow pioneers in friends Georgie “G-Love” Love and Wade “Wade-o” Seaford and we set forth.
Along the way we encountered angry birds protecting their newborns (“I don’t want your babies already,” I told them as they chased me), dead toads and the scurrying sounds of snakes and lizards. We heard later that day that a Spanish guest had nearly made it to the top of the mountain before seeing a “serpent” and being so terrified that she ran all the way back down, never reaching the summit and seeing the view. Funny how the word “serpent” sounds scarier than “snake”. I can handle snakes, but serpents have a bit more Old Testament menace in their slithers.
Shame about the serpent because on top of Mt Oldfield, after an epic ascent to make Hilary proud and seven litres of perspiration later, the view was beautiful. Unfortunately my jandals (NZ) / thongs (Australia) / flip flops (the world) decided to pack it in – who knew you shouldn’t go mountain climbing in those things? Panic filled my every pore at the prospect of descending Oldfield barefoot with serpents at each turn until Wade-o grabbed a vine, tied a few knots and hooped the rubbery bit back through. Voila, the “vinedal” was born. Or the “vine-flop.” Or the “vong.”
As for the view, my favourite island of all the ones dotting the horizon was named by Captain James Cook and is called Pentecost Island. Rising from the jungle is a twin-peaked rock formation and the whole island is fringed by white sand. Cook documented that it was the most impressive of all the island in the Whitsundays and it’s true that of those islands, it is the one that has the most Jurassic Park mystique. With his words as motivation, me and my small team of fellow adventurers are planning a trip there next.