Great Barrier Reef and Islands, Queensland, Australia
At a Glance
Even the journey there is spectacular - flying by private helicopter over the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef
Enjoy the delicious food served at Orpheus
Go on an indigenous tour to learn about the local heritage
Take in the beautiful landscape of coastline and national park
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
April through November is the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef, although southeast trade winds can sometimes make it a tad choppy at sea. December through March can be uncomfortably hot and humid, particularly as far north. In the winter months (June-Aug), the water can be a touch chilly (Aussies think so, anyway), but it rarely drops below 22°C.
To start planning your holiday to Orpheus Island
Surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef, Orpheus Island lies just 25 minutes by helicopter from Townsville and stretches across 11 kilometres of immaculate coastline, and comprises of a pristine National Park and surrounding World Heritage listed marine park
Accommodating just 34 guests at any one time; this luxury island escape is a rare island of exceptional beauty offering the ultimate in tropical escapism. Nestled in the sheltered Hazard Bay on the western-side of the island, the lodge is laid without fanfare along a ribbon of serene beach and features beachfront rooms, suites and villas, a main pavilion bar and alfresco-style dining area, a restaurant, a reading room, an inviting infinity pool that mirrors the Coral Sea and a sustainable veggie patch which provides the chefs with a constant supply of fresh produce.
Orpheus offers a plethora of once in a lifetime experiences; be it a fishing trip where the day’s catch is grilled on an open fire of a nearby cove; an indigenous-led tour of the culturally-rich neighbouring islands; or taking a dinghy and chef-prepared gourmet picnic hamper and discovering the many pristine bays and reefs that fringe Orpheus. Alternatively, it provides the perfect backdrop for a more private and quieter interlude if you wish to shut off from the outside world.
The island offers just seventeen guest rooms and suites ensuring a personalised stay. The living spaces have been recently refurbished and offer a light, natural colour scheme that reflects the breezy surrounds.
For most guests dining on Orpheus is a highlight, the chef takes great pride not only in the quality of the food but also in the setting of each meal. The meals often include seafood from the surrounding waters and vegetables grown on what was once a tennis court but is now the chef’s own personal market garden! From degustation experiences to beach bonfires with paella and baked fish, each evening promises a culinary treat.
Orpheus has a rich cultural heritage, dating back to the 1930s when the lodge was run with the assistance of local indigenous people. Still today, the indigenous employees play an integral role in the daily operations of the lodge and their expert knowledge of the region makes for an unforgettable cultural experience. Enjoy an indigenous led tour and learn about the culturally rich Palm Islands archipelago.
All rooms, suites and villa's are offering a unique ambience and a beautiful balance between contemporary and a minimalist island aesthetic, offering utter comfort in a laid-back luxe setting. The newly refurbished accommodation offers natural colour schemes, blonde timbers, crisp white linen, 32 inch LED TV's, and Daintree Essentials guest amenities to ensure a tranquil sanctuary for you to unwind in. From your private terrace you enjoy a view over the Coral Sea.
The Beachfront Villa is the only room type that sleeps four guests in two bedrooms. Each bedroom has its own bathroom, and from your private terrace you enjoy a magnificent view over the Coral Sea.
We love the fact that Orpheus is one of the only Great Barrier Reef Resorts to embrace children. It doesn't have a kids 'club but who needs one when you have the amazing natural playground of the reef at your doorstep?
Choose one of the Villas when travelling with the family - they sleep four and offer plenty of space for you and your little ones.
Dining with the Tides is the island's signature dining experience. One evening of your stay, you will enjoy a private dinner on the pier, backlit by the sun's setting rays over the Coral Sea. Your intimate dinner for two will be served under a starlit canopy and minimal interruptions will ensure a unique and romantic dining experience.
On the other nights and days of your stay, Orpheus offers a light, contemporary and daily changing menu that showcases the richness of the region. Accommodation rates are inclusive of all gourmet meals and accompanied by a selection of regional wines and beers. Honouring a diverse selection of Australia's finest drops; the Orpheus cellar features both iconic and boutique wines from the country's most renowned wine regions.
Stephen Legg (Staff)
As grand entrances go, Orpheus certainly raises the bar. This tiny forested island off the coast of the Tropical Queensland can only be accessed by helicopter from the city of Townsville. Swooping low over deserted islands and reefs that dazzle like they are studded with jewels you might even sight migrating whales spouting. The first sight of Orpheus is captivating and has been attracting A-listers for decades Vivien Leigh being one of the first. A strand of golden beach hemmed in on either side by giant granite boulders and vivid green mangroves.
Orpheus's attraction lies in both its remoteness and lack of infrastructure. The entire island is national Park, all 3,280 acres of it. With no roads or even walking trails, this is a beautiful place to simply to relax.
The new owners have remained true to the islands history, renovating the 1930s beach villas while embracing modern clean lines. Each of the North Beach villas comes complete with mesmerizing views over manicured lawns and tropical gardens to the ocean, providing spectacular sunsets.
The crowning jewel at Orpheus is the spectacular saltwater infinity pool, whose poolside bar and loungers add to the relaxed vibe of the island. The general feeling is of staying with friends on their private island.
Dining is a real draw and can be enjoyed at a variety of locations from breakfast on the waterfront terrace to seven course degustation menus in the open sided restaurant. The Head Chef draws on his Indonesian heritage while utilising fresh produce from the kitchen garden - herbs, fruits fresh eggs. For a really special evening, a candlelit table can be set up on the resorts private pier flanked by burning torches.
While Orpheus might not be a diving destination in its own right there are some really interesting sites a short boat ride away - the nearby Giant Clam gardens are particularly impressive. Ospreys and Brahminy kites circle overhead during the day while at night fury critters appear including echidnas, bandicoots.
Olivia Cryer (Staff)
Helicopters. Boys toys, military craft, rescue vehicles. Not here. The shiny Bell Longranger was our transfer to Orpheus Island, just 80 km and a 25 minute flight from Townsville on Queenslands sugar cane coast. The low level flight takes you over rugged islands and vast expanses of blue ocean, until you land on the helipad at Orpheus, at the north end of the property.
We were met on arrival by the charming manager, Shaun, who guided us across the lawns and through the palm trees to the main lodge, to be met by a cold glass of bubbles and the start of our Orpheus experience. The views here really take centre stage, Hazard Bay stretches in front of the resort, looking back across to the small coastal town of Lucinda and Hinchinbrook Island on the horizon. The island itself is only 11km long, and houses the resort itself and a Marine Research Station that can be visited by guests.
The main lodge is relaxed and unpretentious and really is the definition of casual luxury. With only a handful of guests at any one time, it does feel like you are staying on a friends private island hideaway, and the relaxed beach luxe feel reflects this. Staff are friendly and attentive, but dont stand on ceremony, and I particularly liked the help yourself feel during the day, with a well-stocked selection of house beer, wine, soft drinks and snack available to you should the mood take you. If you are looking for total polish and sophistication, then Orpheus perhaps isnt for you it is relaxed, low key and intimate.
Equally, if you are after total privacy, then that really isnt the place youve been looking for. The rooms, suites and villas (I would really only recommend the North side at this stage, until the Southern end is upscaled) are linked by a wooden boardwalk and face the ocean, but are in quite close proximity. Not unpleasantly so, but it definitely warrants a friendly wave to neighbours on the way to breakfast! Whilst our suite was incredibly comfortable featuring all mod-cons, dcor is simple and minimalist, with echoes of Scandinavia and allowing the views to shine. Bathroom amenities are Litya Aussie made and they smell fantastic and the bathrooms are clean and new.
Orpheus definitely lacks any pretention, and the notion of getting stuck in to the daily complimentary activity with your fellow guests reinforces this. Trips out to local snorkelling spots or the giant clam gardens (very impressive!), fishing trips, or visits to the research centre are operated daily and on rotation. We were particularly lucky they were trialling the permanent stationing of a helicopter on the island to operate scenic flights, and on the afternoon of our arrival, we were duly whisked out over the ocean towards Hinchinbrook Island as the sun sank low over the islands. Flying over the sugar cane pier at Lucinda, the tidal estuaries and the vertiginous peaks and crags of Hinchinbrook at dusk was absolutely magical and something that weve definitely encouraged them to continue in future.
The lasting memory of Orpheus for me, and something they should be particularly proud of, is the food. Chef Arie Prabawo is a culinary genius, every dish was a total delight, with subtle Asian fusion influences and sublime flavour combinations. He utilises the beautifully cultivated kitchen garden (definitely worth a visit) to accent the dishes with local, seasonal produce wherever possible.
All in all, this little low key Aussie gem is perfect for those looking to kick of their shoes, relax under swaying palms and enjoy some downtime, all enhanced by superb gastronomy and laid back Queensland charm.
Location & directions
Great Barrier Reef and Islands, Queensland, Australia
Located just 80km north of Townsville amidst the magical waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Orpheus is a secluded island stretching across 11 km of immaculate turquoise coastline and comprising 1.368 hectares of pristine National Park and surrounding World Heritage-listed Marine Park.
How to get there
Townsville airport ensures easy access with frequent daily flights from most Australian capital cities and regional centres flying Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar.
You can also enjoy a scenic flight transfer, a flight of 25 minutes that will take you over the picturesque coral-studded sea to Orpheus.
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