Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Whitsundays

During one of my last trips home to Oz to visit the family, I was lucky enough to make a quick side-trip to The Whitsunday Islands, off the central coast of Queensland.  I don't know about you, but I usually need a holiday after spending time with my family :-)  Anyway, I flew into Proserpine (or the Whitsunday Coast, depending on which airline you fly) and it was a quick 25 km (16 miles) to get to Airlie Beach where I was staying.  Talk about a picturesque location!  It's set on a bit of a peninsular, but it has a sheltered bay with a man-made lagoon and play area for the kids to run around, right near downtown.  It was October when I went, so the weather was fabulous and not too hot yet, and my timing was good because I made it before jellyfish season (November - May).  I still strongly suggest sunscreen, regardless of when you visit, as that Queensland sun is mighty powerful.

Whitsundays from the air

My first afternoon/evening was spent wandering around town, poking into all the little shops and boutiques and, of course, enjoying some fresh fish and chips.  Although I'll admit, I was pleasantly surprised at the range of food options available.

The next day I had already arranged a day cruise out to Hamilton Island on a former racing yacht, although we couldn't dock at Hamilton due to wind conditions.  Wow, what a great experience!  It was what I consider a good sized group, about 12 passengers total, including crew, and it ended up being a friendly, happy bunch of people.  Lunch was catered on board when we stopped at a tiny island that I can't for the life of me remember the name of (there are SO many!).  Anyone who was interested could go for a walk on the beach or go snorkeling.  I'll take a snorkeling trip any opportunity I can get, so off I went.  Snorkeling, and more so scuba diving, to those who have not experienced it can best be described as visiting another world. The feeling of being weightless in the water combined with the amazing vista of sea life and coral waving in the 'breeze' transports you to another planet.  I can see how easy it would be to lose all track of time and sense of where you are as you're held captive by watching your surroundings.  The colours are so brilliant that they're indescribable.  Even the truly talented photographers can't really do justice to the entire experience.

Souvenir shopping took up most of the next morning before heading back to the airport for my flight back to Brisbane.  It's only about an hour and half flight (about 2 hours to Sydney, 3 to Melbourne) which is nice because I didn't lose the whole day travelling.  Other than being too short, this trip was great and I hope to do it again in the near future.


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