What do Dana, Oprah and Elvis have in common?  Nothing, till we got to Hamilton Island.

Our visit to Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef was supposed to be the highlight of our trip.  We’d seen the brochure for this tropical paradise and decided that this was where we wanted to spend a very special anniversary.

As we were landing, the song, “Bali Hai” from South Pacific kept twirling in my brain.  Azure skies, water the color of sapphires, dramatic clouds…wait, clouds, there aren’t supposed to be any clouds…just sunshine!

We arrived at what I have to say is the most gorgeous place that I’ve ever been.  No sooner dd we step out of the taxi that we were greeted with frosty glasses of champagne.  As we sat and sipped, the manager came over to tell us that we should plan all of our outdoor activities as soon as possible because the weather didn’t look good.

We were shown to our room and decided to throw on our bathing suits pronto and get out into the pale sunshine.  For the next 2 hours we enjoyed the only sunbeams that we were to see our entire stay.

We made the most of it…we didn’t even stop for lunch, but did slice a few apples that were waiting for us in the room.  Much to our surprise, someone wanted to join us for lunch.  Out of nowhere, a very large cockatoo landed on the railing. He perched there for a few and then came closer, and closer until he was on the lounge chair right next to us sharing our snack.  I don’t know about you, but big birds with large, sharp beaks scare me…must have something to do with Alfred Hitchcock.

Later, we discovered that our new feathered friend has relatives all over the island that like to join you for lunch.  We were witness to one who seemed to have a penchant for pizza.  He swooped down and grabbed a whole slice before making a quick exit.

Somehow, instead of Hamilton Island being our sundrenched, relaxing spot, it became our spot to meet Australian wildlife.  Besides the cockatoos, one morning returning from breakfast I was flabberghasted to turn the corner and stand eye to eye with a kangaroo, I don’t know which of us was more startled… our eyes met and with that,  he hopped away.  Now we were not supposed to see kangaroos on this part of the trip, that was to come later.  Ironically, this was the up close and personal “roo” experience  we were going to have, and sadly,  I couldn’t get my camera to my eye fast enough.

Hamilton Island is lucky enough to have their very own Wildlife Sanctuary right in town which is where we spent an afternoon having a cuddle with the koalas.  Koalas are mostly nocturnal, which probably explains why they rouse them from their beds to come and cuddle with well meaning strangers while they’re too sleepy to say “no”.  When it was Dana’s turn, they brought out the adorable, Elvis…as you can see, they became fast friends.  Ironically, Elvis is the very same koala that Oprah had a cuddle with on her visit,  http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-and-Gayle-Meet-Koalas-in-Australia-Video.

So, what do you do when you’re in paradise and it’s raining?  That’s right, eat!  Luckily, there was no shortage of great food, just a shortage of sunshine.  This week’s recipe is my interpretation of the lovely salad that we were served for our anniversary dinner.  I’ve made a few changes, but the theme’s the same…bitter, crisp arugula, sweet blueberries and spicy pumpkin seeds…I added the tangy sliced oranges and citrus vinaigrette.  A little bit of paradise for your next Sunday Supper with family and friends.

Arugula, Bluberry, Spicy Pumpkin Seeds, Oranges and Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

A flavorful summer salad, packed with citrus, blueberries and just a bit of spice.

Ingredients:

Salad

4 cups arugula
1 orange, peeled and cut into segments
1/4 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons spicy pumpkin seeds

Vinaigrette

!/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Several grinds of fresh pepper

Directions:

Salad:

Divide arugula on to 4 plates. Add orange segments. Sprinkle on blueberries and spicy pumpkin seeds. Drizzle on citrus vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice and salt then whisk in olive oil till emulsified.

Enjoy!