I really enjoying filming at the Elysian Retreat with Peter Colquhoun during my second week of production, working as Queensland cameraman for the Hotels by Design (Series 1, Australia and New Zealand).

Instant Calm

Pete and I arrived at this incredibly peaceful location around mid afternoon. The first thing I noticed was just how quiet it was. Aside from the sound of the water lazily caressing the beach at low tide, there was a slight breeze that carried birdsong.

We had an overnight stay and were due to leave midday the following day so we got straight to work. Pete got to work on his scripts while I explored the area with my camera. It was nice to get in the zone without distraction.

View from my room at Elysian Retreat
View from my room at Elysian Retreat

It’s often rare to have the time available to choose my shots. Often on these types of shoots, you have to hit the ground running and check off on a variety of required shots. But in this instance, thanks to the entire shoot being in one location, I was able to spend time switching lenses and shoot a variety of shots including time-lapse, steady-cam, tripod, drone and hand-held. It was a lot of fun to have the opportunity to do this in such a peaceful and scenic location.

Dave at Elysian Retreat
Dave at Elysian Retreat

Try as I might, I could not hear any sounds of civilization. Tucked away at the bottom of Long Island in the Whitsundays, the Elysian Retreat really provides you with a chance to get away from everyone and everything.

My favourite part of the shoot was the evening, just before dinner. The sun had set and I had (finally!) showered. It had been an early start and a long day. Jumping on and off small boats and we all know sand gets everywhere! Charlton had started an excellent campfire and dinner was almost ready. After we had shot all the interviews and required pieces to camera, it was so nice to kick back on the deck and enjoy a quiet drink before an amazing meal was served.

Stay focused!

I could have easily put the camera down and my feet up the next day. But, at the same time, it was truly a joy to get the camera and head out to capture this landscape in the early morning. 

I filmed all the drone shots the following morning. This was my first shoot with the excellent little Mavic Air 2 because my Mavic 2 Pro was damaged the week before during my shoot at Bedarra Island. Really impressed with the video quality on this little drone and certainly a lot more convenient to travel with due to its smaller size.

I wrapped up production with about 30 minutes to spare just before midday. Time enough to sit and enjoy a coffee before our chopper arrived to take us to our next destination, the Reefsuites, 40 nautical miles from Airlie Beach.

About to board our chopper to fly out to Reefsuites on the Whitsundays!

Dave is available for a variety of video production services, including camera operator and direction. For more information, contact Dave here.


Hotels by Design (Series 1) premiered in Australia on September 12, 2020 on Channel 10. The series focused on hotels, environments and experiences and it was a pleasure to be involved with.