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Short of any huge calamities or native animal uprisings, I think we’ve found “the place”. Which is pretty awesome because I considered a lot of venues but this is the only one we went to see. Thank god for that, I couldn’t handle having to mission it out to ten or twenty different places, only to walk away feeling dejected, frustrated and increasingly panicked.

This place is spectacular, even though it was the wet season and the air clung about you like a living thing, kind of like a hot, slightly damp invisible blanket. It shouldn’t be as humid when we get married (in October) and it will cool down a little at night. Although, to be honest, I found the weather perfect as it was although you wouldn’t want to wear anything too heavy or you’d melt.

The main attraction is that it reminds us both of the Caribbean. If we could plan our perfect wedding, it would be on one of those islands; Jamaica probably or maybe St Lucia. Problem is, no one would come as it’s such a long way away and very expensive to get to from Australia. So The Elandra is a happy compromise.

The two hour drive from the airport to the resort was filled with the rolls and spikes of lush green mountains and long stretches of sugar cane and bananas. The only thing that broke the fantasy of being on a Caribbean road trip were the occasional wallaby or kangaroo – lazing under a tree or dead on the side of the road – and the alarmingly frequent cassowary crossings signs. It seems these strange birds have made this tropical paradise their own personal fiefdom and bamboozled the humans into handing over the roads.

The resort itself has the most spectacular view of the neighbouring islands. The pool deck and all the rooms look out over the Coral Sea and the sunrise peeps in through your balcony windows, forcing you to get up and start the day by luxuriating in its colourful glow and the sunset turned the world pink and purple. It was also a full moon last night, which was AMAZING. The light shone off the ocean and the moon was so bright it was like a mini-sun with a beautiful, soft corona around it. Honestly, I can’t explain how beautiful this place is. We were blown away.

There are two almost-private beaches accessible via a bush track at the bottom of the resort. We scoped them out between 7am and 8am and saw five other people: an American couple, a young girl going for a run and a local fisherman with his two young children plus one little cassowary that scurried off into the bush as soon as it heard/saw us coming. We also saw stingrays floating serenely in the shallow water and big schools of tiny fish off the rocks. The ocean proved too glorious for Jared to ignore so he stripped down to his undies and jumped in. Never a fan of the open water (ever since Jaws), I dangled my feet off the rocks. Even the sea reminds me of the Caribbean – warm and bath-like – just how I like it.

During our stay, they fed us delicious canapés, dinner and breakfast. We got to talk to their recommended decorator, photographer, celebrant, cake maker and musician, all while meeting the staff and the owner and developing a more than slight attachment to the beautiful surroundings (the whole point of them inviting us up there, I suppose). The wedding seemed to come together before our eyes, even though we hadn’t really talked about the specifics that much before. The one thing we were pretty sure about was that, if we had a cake, it would be a croquembouche and the dessert lady didn’t bat and eyelid when we asked her about it so that’s seeming like a definite possibility!

When the time came to leave, we hugged everyone and took our little party of two up to some waterfalls that came highly recommended by the staff. They were a great way to end a wonderful weekend and we killed an hour or so swimming in the pools and lazing in the sun, even if I left my bikini top in the car and Jared forgot his swimmers altogether. Didn’t really think that one through but oh well, you can’t win them all.

Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure: