ISLAND TRIP: Casey Hawkins and Kara Lodders at the site of indigenous cave paintings at Nara Inlet last week.
ISLAND TRIP: Casey Hawkins and Kara Lodders at the site of indigenous cave paintings at Nara Inlet last week. Peter Carruthers

Whitsunday welcome for children's author

I DROVE a campervan to the Whitsundays in mid-July, with the intention of staying a few weeks, and months later and I'm still here enjoying the spectacular natural elements - just one of the perks of being a wireless working nomad.

The ocean view I fell in love with when I first arrived began to sadden me, as I felt I was wasting my weekends alone indoors. I posted a comment in the Whitsundays Chat Facebook group describing my interests and practically advertising my friendship to 8000 members.

I couldn't believe how many responses I got, which led to an accumulation of walks, coffees and community-based activities.

I hit it off with a mum called Kara, who I now hang out with regularly. We both agreed it can be difficult to find your tribe when living in a holiday destination.

Last week we took to the Whitsundays Chat page once more, announcing we really wanted to visit Hook Island before my departure. Within hours, a local family of four responded saying they already had plans to go and we could join them.

The Patton family was so friendly and accommodating, we couldn't believe our luck.

When we asked them why they were willing to take us, they said they felt lucky to get the opportunity to meet new people, especially for the sake of their children Gabby and Tylor. They said when Cyclone Debbie hit, they offered their house to four backpackers who were stranded. They spent most of the time playing music and games with the kids, all the while exposing them to new cultures.

As we glided along the crystal blue water, back to where we launched the boat, I contemplated why most of us only treat "our friends” with such kindness and hospitality, when "strangers” have so much to offer.

I believe the heart that marks the entrance to Airlie Beach represents the Whitsundays community as much as the life out at sea.

Visit Casey's website /noonie, where you can buy a copy of her children's book, Noonie and the Missing Bone.

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