We’re travelling down the east coast by Greyhound and it was an 11 hour journey down to Airlie Beach. The scenery is not particularly exciting, especially after driving through New Zealand, but we have spotted some kangaroos and wallabies amongst the miles of bush. I’m glad we didn’t decide to drive ourselves or hire a camper again – the distances are huge and there’s not a lot on the way.
Plus it’s a chance to write these blog posts!
Airlie Beach is quite a nice little town but it’s big draw is being the gateway to the Whitsundays Islands. I went for a run past the lagoon and the two huge marinas and there were some seriously impressive yachts moored up. Plus a man jet-powering himself out of the bay!
We chose a day trip out on a small boat that would take us snorkelling, to the famous Whitehaven beach for a BBQ and on a bush walk in Hill Inlet. Now the snorkelling… we’d been spoilt by Cairns but the reef here lacked colour – it seemed bleached and old. There were some good looking fish but nothing as spectacular as we’d seen a few days before.
At Whitsunday Island we cruised the full length of Whitehaven beach and settled on the sand while the crew cooked up a BBQ. It’s the most photographed beach in Australia and for good reason: the sand has a high concentrate of silica which makes it very white and as fine as flour. The water is a beautiful turquoise and although there were a few tourists, it was a very peaceful place. Looking out to sea we saw humpback whales breaching the water.
The wildlife are obviously used to the day trips – we saw some evil crows stealing packets of biscuits from cool bags and a huge Goanna lizard joined us in the queue for lunch.
At a lookout at Hill Inlet we got a wonderful view of the swirling white sands. Where the freshwater meets the sea the water changes to a deep blue hue. Stingrays and Lemon sharks breed here and there were hundreds visible in the water. We learnt a bit about the aboriginal history of the island and how it is now “taboo” -cursed land- for them.
On the trip back to land we spotted more whales and the crew told us about 5 metre mantarays they had seen earlier in the week. I suspect the story of swimming with tiger sharks while they were attacking a baby whale was made up for the Chinese tourists though!
We were back in Airlie in time to watch the sunset over the marina.