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ESCAPE

Traffic snarls and city stresses are left behind when

Heather McWhinnie

takes

a ferry to Brisbane’s own bay of islands and discovers some hidden gems

Bay of islands a great escape

W

hen we go to Australia, coming back

is such a healing experience,” says

sculptor Ted Upton over a cup of

coffee when I arrive on Macleay Island, and I

couldn’t agree more. My journey from the city

had not started well – more than an hour in a

traffic jam on the Pacific Motorway, one missed

ferry, the next caught by a whisker ... but that all

changed for the better the minute I stepped off

the mainland and onto the barge. The water is

glass smooth, the air no more than a temperate

breath and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Bliss.

It turns out that Macleay Island is quite the

art colony. Of the 3000+ local residents it’s

estimated more than 250 of them are artists –

painters, calligraphers, silversmiths and potters,

poets, writers, musicians, spinners and ink

masters – the youngest among them is just 13.

Several have shown their work internationally

including master printmaker Carolyn Dodds,

portrait artist David Wells and painters Karen

Foster and Madeleine Ekeblad.

The annual Artists at Work weekend at Easter,

when they demonstrate their techniques to the

public, now attracts several thousand visitors.

Although I’ve missed that event Madeleine

Ekeblad, or Maddi as everyone calls her, doesn’t

mind showing me her work over a cuppa at

her house in Eastbourne Terrace (call ahead on

3409 4545). Maddi’s a great introduction to the

island, friendly and inviting, full of great stories

that give a snapshot of the neighbourhood

talent. She’s as vibrant as the red hot dancers and

musicians that are central to her latest collection.

Maddi is also behind a new event that will

allow more people to meet local artists on the

island. Under the banner of the Dead Parrot

Society artists will meet at the Macleay Club

for dinner on the second Thursday of each

month and visitors are welcome to join them.

While the club sends a courtesy bus to the ferry

to pick up and drop off visitors (which it will

do for any lunch or dinner guests), my tip is to

stay overnight.

There’s a variety of accommodation to choose

from and the most picturesque are Sandra and

Craig Scott’s Curious Cottages, Peppermint

and Licorice. Peppermint sits like a treehouse

above Perulpa Bay while Licorice boasts views to

Stradbroke Island. Both are two-bedroom, two-

bathroom period cottages renovated in fine taste

to include mod cons such as spa baths ready to

seduce you into some serious wind-down time.

I’m not equipped for self-catering so a B&B

is a great alternative and there’s no better

on Macleay Island than the five-star rated

Yarandabbi Dreaming. Host Trevor Hulbert’s

weekend champagne breakfasts, which include

buckwheat pancakes, Eggs Benedict or salmon

and eggs among other things on the menu, have

earned rave reviews from past guests.

Trevor and his wife Yvonne are gracious hosts

and the rooms quite grand, with spa baths and

private patios. There are only three so it’s very

private and homely in a nice way – there are golf

clubs, bikes and a canoe to borrow (perfect),

a barbecue to use for DIY suppers and a pool

(brilliant, tidal waters around the island can

make swimming more limited than you think).

Yarrandabbi’s views from the deck are to the east

over Perulpa Bay to Stradbroke Island so meals

can easily become a long drawn out affair – it’s

24

| BNE May/June 2015