Oprah in the Whitsundays
OPRAH Winfrey described Hamilton Island yesterday as better than she ever could have imagined from any book or magazine.
The world famous American TV personality landed on the island just after 1pm – her first stop on her Ultimate Australian Adventure tour.
She said she couldn’t believe how friendly the people were.
The details of her trip had been kept confidential by the tour organisers but there was plenty of media waiting on Hamilton Island when she arrived.
She was taken away to a secret location and returned about two hours later to greet the waiting media.
She also met the Premier Anna Bligh who flew to the region to greet her.
It is believed Oprah is staying at Qualia on the northern end of the island.
Ninety-three of her guests are staying at the Reef View Hotel.
The talk show queen made a short stop in Cairns yesterday morning while her private jet was re-fuelled.
She did not get off the plane even though it had initially been rumoured she would stay in Cairns to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
She enjoyed a private party on Whitehaven Beach late this afternoon with her guests and also visited the reef.
Oprah will leave the Whitundays today and her guests are expected to leave on Friday.
Winner of Tourism Queensland’s Best Job in the World campaign, Ben Southall, originally invited Oprah to Queensland more than 12 months ago.
Ben was back on Hamilton Island yesterday to greet the star.
In September this year, she announced she would be coming to Australia – and would be bringing 300 audience members with her.
The 300 lucky winners arrived in Sydney on Tuesday.
They will tour Australia for the next five days before attending her two shows at the Sydney Opera House on December 14.
Two lucky local Oprah fans Kylie and Yvonne Spees will also be in the audience.
Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer Peter O’Reilly said it was a great accomplishment to attract a portion of Oprah’s audience here, and an even bigger triumph that Oprah herself was in the region.
“To have the Whitsundays as Oprah’s first stop on her Australian adventure is gold for our destination,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“Our objective is to see spectacular Whitsundays footage beamed to 145 countries around the world to lure increasing numbers of visitors here. Having Oprah’s endorsement of that experience will undoubtedly have an amazing impact,” he said.
“The two episodes featuring Australia will surely see record viewer numbers for her shows in this country and consequently it will be a great domestic promotion as well.”