The flight attendant calls us darl and signals that we’ve arrived in Queensland. We step off the plane into a different world. A world of wet heat, wide-open roads and the air-conditioner turned up full. It’s a two hour drive through squalling showers, cane fields and rotting old homesteads before we turn off the highway and head for turquoise water and white sand.
Monte’s Reef Resort is tucked away on strip of beach on the tip of Cape Gloucester. It’s about 45 minutes north of Airlie Beach, three hours by sea. This secluded tropical hideaway will be the backdrop for Justin and Brigitte’s wedding.
Judda was born and bred in St Arnaud. I shared a house with him in Melbourne for a year during our time at Uni. He’s a genuinely great bloke but back then I assumed he was an old man stuck in a young man’s body. It turns out he was just meant to be a Queenslander. The place suits him to a tee. Wake at five and head to bed at eight. Drinking mid-strength XXXX for breakfast. Singlet and thongs as standard pub attire. Fishing as part of the daily routine. Brigitte is from ‘broland but found her way to the Whitsundays where she met Judd. She’s smart as a tack, doesn’t mind a drink and calls Judd out on his bullshit. Yep, it’s safe to say that they are a match made in heaven.
Queensland has a different concept of time. It gets light early and the sun is set by six. Everything is more relaxed, there’s no rush, deadlines don’t matter. Things will happen when they happen, if not today then probably tomorrow. In the meantime, just enjoy the sun and the sand.
People have travelled from around the world for the wedding. Old friends, people who haven’t seen one another for years, catch up on old times. For others, introductions are made and new friendships are quickly forged. Judd and Bridgette’s big day is upon us before we know it.
It’s a cracking day, Shag and Gloucester islands provide a backdrop fit for any postcard. Smart casual is the suggested dress code. Shoes are optional. I consider throwing on a tie but the Chief Adviser wisely points out that one should never dress more formally than the groom. Shirt and shorts it is.
Guests drift down to the foreshore. It’s impossible to get over excited, the atmosphere is too chilled, but there is a sense of relaxed anticipation. People mill about, sharing beers and laughs.
The sun is high in the sky when the hum of the single prop engine signals the start of the shoeless formalities. A small speck on the horizon becomes recognisable as the seaplane arches around Shag Island. The bridal party glides gracefully through the middle of the bay then taxis into shore. Brigitte looks stunning stepping off the plane onto the sand. Judda’s smile is as big as Queensland.
Our friends commit to a shared future with the exchange of vows on the beach. We toast their health and happiness and the party begins.