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									         P ORUMA I SLAND   R ESORT    CORAL SEA

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                                                   Australia with Papua New Guinea, each one

                    n route to Poruma, one of                                                               Far from the ordinary,
                    the string of palmy islands    trimmed with a narrow fringe of sugar-white        Poruma Island is a side of
                    that the plane visits on its   sand that dissolves toward a halo of peacock                 Australia that few
                    island-hopping      journey    blue that suggests a wealth of coral and exotic       Australians know about.
                    through the Torres Strait,     marine life.                                       Luxury is a hallmark of the
                    your pilot might suggest          Poruma, which lies about midway along this            accommodation, and
that you get out in order to stretch your legs     island chain, is fairly typical of the inhabited    interaction with the locals
and perhaps collect some mangoes. You will         islands – a narrow coral cay about two kilome-     adds immeasurably to the
then spend several strange but deliriously         tres long with a village of about 200 toward its              total experience.
wonderful minutes knocking fruit from the          western end. The island taxi that collects you
giant trees at the end of the runway, and          from the airstrip heads along the island’s main
depart with fingers sticky with juice. This is     street, a sandy avenue where pink frangipani
not your usual flight, but then these are not      trees and filaments of bougainvillea screen
your usual islands. The Torres Strait Islands      neat houses with broad verandahs, past the
exist in another dimension.                        collapsing stone church that was built by the
  Of course, you’ve already noticed this. As       London Missionary Society and its modern
soon as you leave Australia’s most northerly       counterpart, St Andrew’s, and finally to
point at the tip of Cape York, there is a per-     Poruma Island Resort.
ceptible change in the scenery below. Against         Overlooking the sandy spit that forms the
a malachite green sea, the islands of the Torres   finest of the island’s beaches, the resort con-
Strait are a series of stepping stones that join   sists of just two enormous thatch-roof timber

120       OUTBACK in STYLE                                                                                                           OUTBACK in STYLE   121
                                                                                                         ... WARM
                                                                                                        SEAS, LOW      The people of Torres Strait
                                                                                                                     revel in the natural bounty of
                                                                                                                                 their island home.
                                                                                                       POPULATION            As you would expect,
                                                                                                                       everything revolves around
lodges. Each has an open-plan design, with a      the day, there are uninhabited islands scattered                       the sea, and visitors can
lounge and dining area immediately beneath        across the horizon, and abandoning yourself            AND THE          soak up the culture that
                                                                                                                       makes this a special place.
the verandah and folding doors that screen the    for the day on any one of them with a picnic
bedroom and bathroom behind. Each is luxu-        basket, a fishing rod and snorkelling gear is
riously furnished and equipped, with a king-      one of life’s happiest experiences.                  ABSENCE OF
size bed on an elevated platform that is             Fishing is the island’s main source of
enclosed by a mosquito net. Although they         income, and guests can take advantage of the
are not air-conditioned, the soaring thatch       resort’s own vessel to make fast, comfortable        RUN-OFF ADD
roof and ceiling fans keep the rooms cool and     trips to local hot spots. The village men, many
breezy even during the hottest part of the day,   of whom spend several hours at sea each day,
and the bedroom even has its own plunge           are experts at spearfishing and netting, and           UP TO A
pool – just the thing for cooling off in the      the boys from the village often amuse them-
midday heat.                                      selves by playing rodeo games with the sharks
   The snorkelling is sensational. Warm seas,     that swim in the shallows – not recommended
low population and the absence of pollutants      for the faint-hearted. Naturally, fish is also the
and run-off add up to a pristine underwater       basis of the menu at Poruma Island Resort,
world of fish and corals. Strap on a mask and     and dishes such as parsa, a local delicacy, and
a snorkel, launch yourself off just about any     the local crayfish are marvellous.
one of the local beaches and you’re in a world       For many guests, one of the chief delights of
of crimson coral fans, platter-shaped emperor     staying at Poruma is the islanders themselves.
                                                                                                        WORLD OF
angelfish, schools of polished-aluminium          Many describe their stay at Poruma as a
trevally, sharks, barracuda, giant clams, sea     process of being absorbed into a large and
turtles, rays, sharks and dugongs. Wet just       infectiously happy family. The islanders are a
                                                                                                        FISH AND
doesn’t get any better than this.                 hugely engaging people, the women often
   If you feel like playing Robinson Crusoe for   dressed in the loose, floral print dresses that        CORALS.
122       OUTBACK in STYLE
                                                                                                                Badu Island                    PORUMA
                                                                                                                Moa Island            North Torres Reef
                                                                                                                Long Reef            South Torres Reef
                                                                                                                                    North West Reef
                                                                                                                                     Wednesday Island
                                                                                                                Thursday           Horn Island
                                                                                                                                           Cape York

                                                                                                                                                               Map Robert Boesch


                                                                                                                PORUMA ISLAND RESORT
                                                                                                                Getting there: Qantas flight from Cairns to
                                                                                                                Horn Island, then light aircraft to Poruma.
                                                                                                                Alternatively, charter aircraft from Cairns.
                                                                                                                Total flying time is about three hours.
                                                                                                                What’s included: All meals.
                                                                                                                Bookings: Write to Poruma Island Resort,
                                                                                                                Poruma Island, Qld 4875.
                                                                                                                Phone/fax +61 7 4090 0170.
                         were introduced by the missionaries, the men          Outstanding accommodation,
                                                                                                                email res@poruma.com
                         all solid and bronzed, with a girth and a man-       pristine, deserted beaches and
                         ner that suggests slowness, yet lightning fast       dazzling colours - just some of
                         and agile as cats when they’re out fishing in a    the things that set Poruma apart.   or Outback Encounter, 33 Queen St,
                         small boat.                                                                            Thebarton, SA 5031.
                            Local traditions are still important. The                                           Phone +61 8 8354 4405
                         whole village comes together frequently – for
                                                                                                                fax +61 8 8354 4406
                         film evenings, to celebrate births and mar-
                         riages or the construction of a new house.                                             www.outbackencounter.com
                         The islanders are Melanesians, ethnically clos-                                        Notes: Dress light and cool. High-grade
                         er to the people of Papua New Guinea than to                                           sun protection is a must. Alcohol is not sold
                         Aboriginal Australians. Their language,
                                                                                                                on the island, but the lodge can arrange to
                         known as Kalaw Lagaw Ya or Yumiplatok,
                         adopts many of the words and phrases from                                              serve you beer, wines or spirits of your
                         the pidgin that is the universal language of                                           choice if you notify in advance.
                         Papua New Guinea. The local policeman – a
                         softly-spoken man named Pal – doesn’t have
                         an awful lot to do in a community where
                         everyone leaves their doors unlocked and
                         where you can leave your wallet on the beach
                         when you go for a swim, so he can sometimes
                         be seen tidying up the coconut fronds
                         brought down by the wind.
                            Throughout your stay, there are chance
                         events that create moments to treasure – lis-
                         tening to the silky voices of the island choir
                         when they rehearse in the cool of the evening,
                         walking through the village at dusk, when the
                         children are out playing and the streets are
                         bathed in golden light, or falling asleep to the
                         sound of waves on the beach and wind in the
                         coconut palms. This is another side to the
                         Australian experience.                    OS


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