The Whitsundays

Trip Start Feb 17, 2010
1
8
25
Trip End Apr 01, 2010


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Having somehow managed to survive the great Cape Hillsborough flood of 2010 we packed up our soggy campsite amongst a pack of laughing wallabies and headed toward party central – Airlie Beach.

It was nice being in Airlie and somewhere familiar as I had been here a couple years previously on a boys trip. One of my mates from that trip now lives on Hamilton Island a short ferry ride over from Shute Harbour, so I was looking forward to catching up with him.

 The weather was a bit patchy but the sun was out in bursts, so it gave us the opportunity to dry some of our gear out.  It was off-season in Airlee and we stayed at the Wanders Resort campsite. The campsite was rundown really badly, the toilet blocks were disgusting and hadn't seen a drop of bleach in decades, I almost felt dirtier for having a shower.  A pity because with some TLC the place could be awesome but I guess during the summer months they are packed out so they don’t really care too much. 

 After sorting out the camp we headed into town having a quick look around and then heading to the awesome man-made lagoon for a dip. The lagoon was host to the usual array of backpackers sunning themselves and checking each other out. We booked ourselves on a cruise for the following day and then headed out for some pizza in town.

 The day of the cruise we were up and ready early and the weather had finally decided to cut us some slack.  Down at the dock we checked in for the Ocean Rafting cruise and had an hour till cast off so we jumped in the resort pool beside the wharf.

 The trip was made in large rescue style inflatable boats that travelled at high speeds, meaning we could cover a lot more in one day.  After hearing the crews statutory safety briefing and their daily stand up comedy routine, which even they seemed to cringe at, we sped off toward Whitehaven Island, stopping only to check out a pod of dolphins weaving in and out of the water.

 We reached the island and took a twenty-minute hike through the bush to arrive at lookout point.  The view here was amazing, with the stunning backdrop of Whitehaven Beach stretching out below us. The white powder-like sand and aqua blue and green waters had everyone in awe after a few snaps everyone was hurrying down to the beach.

 Once on the beach we walked to the boat that was perched on the sand – the only company allowed to do so and sat down to the type of hearty lunch that we hadn’t enjoyed since leaving on our trip. 

 After having seconds at lunch we then climbed into our dead sexy full-body lycra stinger suits designed to stop any deadly jellyfish stings and disobeyed childhood advise on not swimming with a full belly.  We then explored the shoreline still in all our spandex glory, seeing small sharks, stingrays and an army of Soldier Crabs along the way. The crabs were bright blue and scampered in their thousands along the sand. You could hear the march of their claws as they scurried along. Once you approached them they would twist down into the sand and disappear.

 After a thirty-minute ride along the coast we were at our first snorkelling spot, where we donned the equipment and snorkelled amongst the vivid coral, teeming with fish-life.  After this we headed to another spot just around the point, which had less coral but even more fish. Once in the water the crew threw some fish pellets at me and I was all of a sudden in a feeding frenzy receiving several fishy slaps to the face. Then came the big boys! First a Giant Trevally that darted beneath the boat and amongst us and then a huge Blue-green Maori Wrasse that swam up to arms lengths away.

 Once back aboard the boat it was time for the ride back to the mainland, we had a good chat to the tour guide and enjoyed the ride back sitting on the sides of the inflatable and only holding on by one strap.

 I would really recommend this trip. There is a lot of competition and choice amongst the cruises but the $115 we paid was well worth the price. www.oceanrafting.com.au

 The rest of the night we spent up by the lagoon at some picnic benches cooking dinner on the gas cooker as the sun went down, playing cards, listening to some tunes and drinking goon – I mean cask wine

 The next day my mate Mike came over from Hamilton Island and we met up outside McDonalds – His choice. Seems poor old Mikey is deprived of the golden M on his island so he divulged a couple of burgers before we decided what to do for the day.  After a short deliberation we headed straight to the bottle shop and picked up a couple of six packs of beers and some ice for the chilli-bin (esky) and ambushed Sarah back at the campsite.  With Empty beer bottles strewn the campsite we had to make a return voyage this time picking up a slab of cold beer.  A few hours later the beer was empty again, the heavens had opened up and we were heading out to dinner and then a night on the town.

 Waking up worse for wear with Mike lying half in half out of the now saturated car, and all of our heads screaming form the sambuca we were throwing down our necks last night, we dropped Mike of at Shute Harbour for the boat back to his island. We then had the great displeasure in returning to camp to pack up the sodden campsite in torrential rain. 
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