Good times after Grafton family wins island prize

WHEN Gary Smith got a phone call from The Northern Star telling him he had won a $10,000 trip to XXXX Island on the Great Barrier Reef, he rang the number back straight away.

The Grafton resident thought one of his friends was having him on, and planned to catch them out.

"I'm known to play a few tricks on some of my friends so straight away I thought someone's got their wife or girlfriend to ring me and say I won this prize," the 64-year-old said.

"When I finished talking to the lady, I rang back and got 'Hello, this is the Northern Star'. Soon after someone from The Daily Examiner called me too."

The competition was promoted in three APN newspapers offering the opportunity for a three-night getaway for four people. As it was his wife Julie who entered the competition, Mr Smith opted to take her and his two adult daughters on the trip despite several protests from his mates and co-workers.

The foursome will be among the last visitors to the island which will close at the end of the year after opening in 2012 as the ultimate destination for mates' trips away.

From January 2016, it will once again operate as Pumpkin Island.

But for now, it remains a haven for fishing, beach cricket and relaxation, all with an endless supply of beer.

Mr Smith said he was excited about the trip, being partial to a cold XXXX GOLD when he visits his local watering hole at Roches.

"I tell my mates all the time that if you're ever stuck on a desert island with only one pub, you have to know what the beer tastes like," he said.

"Lucky it's a XXXX one."