This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2013 Travels September 2

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 2     AIRLIE BEACH

Today was to be “my” day, after John’s of bowls yesterday.

We had decided our next stop would be somewhere around Yeppoon, an area that was new to us. John was still mumbling and grumbling about TV and internet. With football finals happening, he was going to be very TV focussed. I finally got fed up with the criticism and told him to organise the next place we would stay at, and see if he could do better. He rang a park that looked good in the literature, and very gruffly interrogated them about their internet and TV. He didn’t query whether they took dogs, or had a site the Bus would fit onto – those were my priorities, not his! I wasn’t surprised when the park person basically told him to get lost!

He then phoned a park at Kinka Beach, and adopted a more pleasant tone with them. He was told he’d have to use a cable to connect TV there, too, but that the reception would be good. So he booked for six nights – all they could fit him in for, and on an en-suite site.  He was happy because that would get him through the weekend, with its football – and maybe some bowls! After prompting, he did check that they took dogs. After hanging up he told me the site would cost $58 a night! We had never, ever, paid that much for a site! I was just glad it was him that made the arrangements. If I’d booked somewhere at that price, I’d never have heard the end of it.

I wanted to do some exploring today.

We parked the Terios behind the Airlie shops, then went walking in the very attractive parkland between the shops and the beach. It was not easy, though, to work out where we were allowed to walk, with the dog along. The signage was confusing, yet again. What is it with this place? A path where it was permitted to walk with dog, would suddenly turn into a no-dog zone, with no alternate paths and no choice but to do an about turn and go back they way we’d come.

Foreshore at Airlie Beach

I’m sure we transgressed the rules a couple of times, without meaning to, but we managed to walk a couple of kms.

Missing the beach?

It seemed the beach area had changed since we were last here, and now was more rock and pebble areas than decent sandy beaches.

The harbour had certainly changed with the creation of marinas. In the cruise season, now, lots of cruise ships anchor off Airlie and visitors are brought in by small boat. Thus the shops have become even more geared to feeding visitors and extracting much in the way of souvenir dollars. Now, all the “proper” shops are out at Cannonvale, it seemed. We were not interested in the predictable tourist tat, though John did buy himself an ice cream.

Back to Bus for lunch, then drove the other way, out to Shute Harbour, site of another marina and base for all the tour boats that ply the Whitsunday waters in these parts. Again, this area had changed, with more houses having sprouted on the hillsides.

Houses on the hills at Shute Harbour

The scenery out at Shute Harbour was to die for. Azure sea, lush greenery, islands and bays all over.

Views to envy…

We cruised around the very hilly little streets of Shute Harbour, envying some of the perched hillside houses their views.

From a lookout, watched the activity in the harbour, for a little while.

Shute Harbour
The magic of the Whitsundays…

Back through Airlie Beach to the supermarket at Cannonvale, for a bit of a food stock up, and so to the Bus. Tea was salads and sliced cold deli meats.

It had been interesting, and pleasant enough, to return to Airlie Beach, but we agreed we wouldn’t come back here again. Absolutely beautiful coast, but just too developed in an unattractive way, for us.


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1998 Travels May 16

SATURDAY 16 MAY   MACKAY TO AIRLIE BEACH   192kms

Today’s drive was predominantly through sugar cane country. There were forested ranges to the west that provided a backdrop to the farming country. In places, low wooded hills appeared on the other side of the highway, too.

We stopped at Proserpine for fuel – 69cpl. Just north of that town, turned off the highway and took the road to Airlie Beach. I had read some material about Airlie that suggested it would be a pleasant place to stay, to get some idea of what the Whitsunday region is like.

There is a whole string of islands off the coast, between Mackay and Bowen, loosely called the Whitsunday Islands. The name comes from one of the largest islands that Captain Cook so named, because he thought he found it on Whit Sunday. The region is known for its aqua seas, white sand beaches, sheltered sailing, and is a popular place on the backpacking circuit.

Driving into Airlie is spectacular. We came through a farming valley, up an ordinary looking hill, then, at the crest, the incredible view suddenly appeared. Right in front was this brilliant bay, with lots of yachts floating at anchor, heaps of islands dotted about, and jungle green headlands. It is unexpected and beautiful. We were told later that locals always slow down at that point, if driving behind tourists, because they know the exact point ahead at which the brake lights will come on, as the tourists automatically slow down and go “wow” – as we did.

The many islands are steep sided and jungle-y  green.

We drove through the town – actually more like a village – to the Big 4 Airlie Cove Caravan Park. Our site here cost $16.20 a night, after club discount but they have no weekly rate or concessions. It was a very attractive park, with heavy tropical growth all round. It is the first place we have stayed that really felt tropical. We were able to walk around and choose our site. We rejected two that had large, fat, goannas asleep on their cement slabs – no point in making life hard for ourselves! Chose a site that had a lot of shrubbery and trees around, and an annexe slab. Discovered later that the trees were home to possums that thought our roof was a great new night time jumping game venue.

The park has a wonderfully attractive swimming pool – large and irregularly shaped, with a spa area to one side open to the pool itself. It looks very inviting.

The whole atmosphere here is very verdant, lush, tropical, full blown. I love it.

After set up, which included putting up the awning roof – outdoor living will be most pleasant here – we drove on to the end of the road, at Shute Harbour, which has a large marina with an obscenely large amount of dollars anchored in it! This is a major departure point for the Whitsunday Islands – day trips, reef cruises, fishing charters.

We drove up onto the headland above the marina and saw homes there that have views that must rank with the best in the world! The sunset on the sea below was bright purple.

It was dark when we drove back to Airlie Beach to get fish and chips for tea.

There is a vibrant atmosphere along the beach front strip that is the centre of town. It features many backpacker accommodation places and some lower key resort and unit structures, but does seem mostly geared to the younger generation – a contrast to Noosa. There are many cheap eateries and shops selling sarongs and T shirts. The place was busy, being a Saturday night. There was that peculiarly tropical smell of warm air, scented flowers, char-grilling food – it reminded me of Darwin.

John found that all the steep hills around us are barriers to good TV reception.

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