Monday, September 9, 2013

The Whitsunday’s and beyond.
The drive to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands was long and we passed numerous kangaroos dead on the side of the roadway hit the previous night as they sought the sweet grass by the side of the roads. It is sad but in a country this big, fencing the side of the roads would just be impracticable. Remember if you are thinking of coming to Australia and driving from city to city distances are huge! Even our GPS we named Doris seemed to have a sense of humor as she stated in her posh English voice. “Drive straight for 378 kilometers then make a right turn.”

On the way to Airlie beach we drove through Rockhampton and headed for Yeppoon. Due to lack of available accommodation we stayed for one night in an overpriced apartment tower called Bay-view Towers. We renamed them Faulty Towers. At $160 a night you would expect good facilities. Things like plates, knives and spoons; if you wanted these you were charged an additional $5. There were no cooking facilities except a microwave. The ranch slider to the balcony refused to open and there were so few plug outlets they had extension cords running around the room.
Determined to get some value for money we went looking for the spa and swimming pool complex advertised in the in-room information brochure. Mysteriously they had vanished. Maybe it was another add on? How a large apartment complex can advertise a facility that doesn’t exist leaves me speechless.
I passed a radio billboard on the way out of town advertising ‘NAG’ Radio not a very compelling call sign I thought.
While Hervey Bay seemed to be semi tropical, Airlie Beach seemed like a resort you would find in places like Fiji, complete with coconut trees. Tourism must be booming this far up the coast everything is bigger and brighter here. We found a nice motel apartment just a few hundred yards from the beach.
Up north they get those stinging jellyfish here from October to May so at Airlie beach they have a man made lagoon for swimming all year round. What a great idea!

On our last day at Airlie Beach we went on an island tour known as ‘the three island’ tour on a big wave piercing catamaran. Seeing skyscrapers on Hamilton Island kind of spoiled the view from the sea while the rest of the villas genuinely tried to blend in with the tropical forests. We never stopped at Hamilton Island which is a resort island for the rich and famous as well as the moderately well heeled.
The boat did stop and anchor on what surely must be one of the most pristine and unspoiled beaches on the planet. Whitehaven beach is miles of pure white silica sand and clear turquoise blue water. This beach has not been developed and is all the better for it. The water was a little cool but compared to New Zealand waters at this time of year it was. The longer you stayed in, the warmer it felt. There was a large sea turtle swimming about but he was just a little too far offshore for me as I didn’t have any swim fins.

After a dive on the reef at Hook Island and being surrounded by hundreds of reef fish we ended up with an hour and a half on Day Dream Island which is a resort destination. Another swim and a hot spa rounded off the day in facilities which were first class.
The next morning we left for Mission Beach with a stopover in Townsville to stretch or legs. It was a long drive but an easy drive on a good road clearly signed with plenty of places for a rest or refreshment break.
Mission Beach had taken a hammering in a cyclone earlier this year and reminded us that in the summer tropical storms can spring up at any time. Still it is a beautiful spot and is quickly recovering from the damage.

The next morning it was an easy drive to Cairns, mission accomplished!

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