Published on June 14th, 2017 | by Sun Gold Soap0
Working In Paradise
For many, the idea of living and working on a tropical island is the stuff of dreams. But it usually remains just that, a fantasy. But it is not outside the realms of possibility with a little persistence and, as in my case, some dumb luck. In 2009, I was fortunate enough to secure a 6 month employment contract at the resort of Hamilton Island, Australia. While others paid thousands for a Hamilton based vacation, I made the beach my office and island my home. To this day, I look back on this period of my life with great fondness and amazement! I often have to remind myself that it did actually happen.
With just 2 months until the cut off point for activating my Australian Working Holiday visa (subclass 417), it was a use it or lose it situation come the start of 2009. As such, my then girlfriend and I landed in Perth, Western Australia, at the end of January brimming with excited optimism and trepidation in equal measure. We found ourselves some digs and got straight down to job hunting.
With a background in photography, I scoured Seek.com.au on a daily basis for potential openings. It wasn’t long before I spotted a vacancy for a Photographer based on an island off the Queensland coast. I felt that I fitted the criteria and applied, despite the fact it was located on the far side of the continent. We’d just have to relocate. Much to my surprise, I was invited for a phone interview within a matter of days! It wasn’t very many days later that I had accepted the job with my girlfriend also securing a position in a separate department. Things were on the up! At this point it occurred to me that having some concept of just where we had agreed to live and work for 6 months might not be a bad idea. So I Googled Hamilton Island Resort. Hollie Mollie! Had we just lucked out or what?! It was the type of place some only dream of visiting! And we were going to get paid to live and work there. Was this really happening?
Yes, it most definitely was! Within a week we had relocated to Hamilton via Brisbane, (Hamilton has its own airstrip). We and a bunch of other newbies were met at arrivals by the HR Manager and we immediately started the induction process. Everything happened pretty fast and it was all a bit of a blur with the lush island vegetation, turquoise seawater, exotic wildlife, lavish holiday properties and marina full of luxurious yachts a constant distraction. We settled into our subsidised staff accommodation (which was none too shabby) and were told to report for work the following day.
My new place of work was the Hamilton Island Photo Shop. The main purpose of this retail outlet was to process and print guest holiday photos and sell disposable underwater cameras for snorkelling. But they also offered an exclusive portrait photography service. This is where I came in. My job was to take guests out on a golf buggy (no cars are allowed on the island and golf buggies are the standard form of transportation) to various beauty spots and take professional portrait photos that they could then opt to buy following a viewing back at the Photo Shop. Seriously! That was it. I spent my days swanning around the island in a golf cart or enjoying a photoshoot on the coconut tree lined beach. Whilst other members of staff were stuck in hotel housekeeping or one of the various restaurants, I made the whole island my office! I honestly believe I had the best job on Hamilton!
Now in the interests of brevity, I’m not going to try and relay the events of my whole 6 months on the island, but there are a few highlights that I should list to give you a sense of what a magical time it was for me. Sipping wine and eating cheese at the top of Passage Peak with epic sunrise views over the Pacific Ocean. Sharing my calamari chippies with an overzealous cockatoo. Coming within 50 meters of a pectoral fin slapping humpback whale. Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Exclusive helicopter views of the island whilst photographing the new golf course. A week on a speedboat shooting the Hamilton Island (Yacht) Race Week. Drinking cold beer on Whitehaven Beach, one of the most beautiful and unspoilt beaches in the world. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.
But all good things come to an end and my 6 months were soon up. It was with a heavy heart that I boarded the plane to depart Hamilton. No future job or lifestyle was ever going to compare. I’d been well and truly spoilt. But I’d been fortunate enough to experience a life that very few get to. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Matt Reid is a staff writer for the popular online sales aggregation website http://www.for-sale.ie/