Day 34: To Brisbane

Airlie Beach treated us to a similar view this morning as it has for the last few days: gray overcast skies. Today however, everything was different: the skies had opened up and heavy rains fell down. Perhaps it is only a good thing that we are leaving today. We also shortly pondered about how yesterday would’ve been like with todays weather…

After a quick breakfast we packed our stuff “airport style” and took off towards Proserpine Airport, also known as Whitsunday Coast Airport. This has to be one of the smallest airports we have been to, with 2 scheduled landings and two takeoffs per day. One of this was the flight to Brisbane. Unlike all our other flights in Australia, this one was with Jetstar, and we even had row number 13, something unheard of back home. It is only a short flight to Brisbane, and 80 minutes later we already had left the plane.

We picked up our next Rental Car, a white Toyota Camry this time (again not the car we paid for but one class larger) and drove off to Glass House Mountains National Park, where the lodge was situated. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the National Park and drinking tea.

Tomorrow we will, completely unplanned, visit Australia Zoo, the zoo owned and operated by the Irwin Family. This zoo is only 10 minutes driving away from our lodge, and since we again only have a short drive in front of us tomorrow, a day at the zoo will be spent well.

Day 33: Motoring at the Whitsundays

After the leisurely spent day of sailing on the Coral Sea yesterday, today will be completely different. We will tour the National Park by RHIB with twin 350bhp engines. At speed, they will take us around the ocean at 50km/h and over, so it’ll be an exhilarating ride!

We are on the “Southern Lights” tour, which is basically a tour around Whitsunday Island, but with stops on the most beautiful points. We started our day off in Airlie Beach off course, with a pickup at our hotel. After embarking we sped towards Hill Inlet for a bush walk to an amazing view on the swirling sands of Hill Inlet, where 98% silica sand creates a sandy shallow inlet which is home to all kinds of marine life among which the rare Estuarine Stingray which you can see in the water from the lookout. Great stuff! This is probably the most picturesque place we have been to in Australia, and that says a lot.

The weather today is kind of a mixture of things, we woke up to clear blue skies, which an hour later had made way for overcast greyish goop. After leaving the harbour, the skies opened up and the blue was visible again, and it stayed like that for quite some time. Great news!

Our second stop was at Dumbell Island, where we had yet another chance to snorkel the Inner Reef. The reef is really shallow over here, but visibility is a little less than yesterday. This reef was brimming with life, and we have seen a great amount of corals and fish. We have been out snorkelling for about 75 minutes, and this time we were wearing a wetsuit as the water was a little cold.

An exercise like that will work up your appetite, at the third stop we have been treated to a great lunch. We stopped at Whitehaven Beach, where 100% silica sands will make you want to wear your sunglasses all day long. It also squeaks under your feet as you walk over it, and it is the finest and stickiest sand you will even see. It is so unlike anything we are familiar with! We have spent about 2 hours on this beach, which at 7km long is pretty big and will acommodate a lot of people. We were a group of 20, which is rather ok. It wasn’t very busy over there either. Thr funny thing over here though was that it has rained a few times during the two hours there. It on,y rained for very short periods of time, but it is the oddest sensation to lie on a beautiful beach and get rain in your face…

The journey back was really bumpy as the winds had picked up a little and together with the tide they created a rough sea. I had a great time, some other people on the boat did not. 🙂

Tomorrow, we’ll leave this piece of paradise and head for the big city of Brisbane. We will fly from the nearby airport Proserpine, and will leave our trusty ASX behind as well.

Day 32: Sailing at the Whitsundays

Getting pickup up from you hotel at 7 in the morning is definitely going to wake you up in the morning, even so for slow starters like myself. The courtesy van was being driven by Joseph, who described himself as the head chef, the head chauffeur and even the captain of the ship. The catamaran is called Illusions, and it is on this vessel that we will spend the day sailing to and from a few islands at the Whitsundays.

The weather has turned on us again today, as the cloud is overcast and gray again, but we can see some tiny blueish spots here and there, so we have hope that it’ll pass over us without giving rain. After embarking on the ship, and throwing off, we set out towards Blue Pearl Bay. This is a bay on one of the islands where the majority of the activities will take place today. Be it snorkelling or diving, this is where it’ll happen, and even lunch will be served whilst being moored there.

The journey there is leisurely and very relaxed as the method of propulsion is steady but not fast. We sail through some rain unfortunately, but our arrival at the bay is actually dry with the sun trying its hardest to peek through the cloud cover. The captain uses a dinghy to drop us off at a small beach in the bay. Let me get this straight: snorkelling the Breat Barrier Reef, whether it is the Inner or Outer, is awesome. This bay is in an area where there are up to 200 species of coral, and up to 500 species of reef dwelling fish to be found. This biodiversity is amazing! Everything is really colourful again, and this site has many more fish than back in Cairns. We can snorkel straight from the beach and hit the reef about 10 metres from the shore. We also have quite some time to spend here, as we will be on this beach for about 2 hours. Great!

We ourselves have spotted a great abundance of fish, but I couldn’t identify more than a few. The most notable were a massive Grouper, a few Anemone fish (Nemo! But slightly different) and a Murene Eel. After this, we went on a small trip again of about half an hour to the second location where there are frequent sightings of Sea Turtles. But, not today. No turtle has come forward to say Hi to the nice people from The Netherlands. 🙁

After lunch, we embarked on the journey back towards harbour which meant the majority of guests fell asleep after all things they’ve done today. We didn’t doze off, but marvelled at the great things we have experienced. And tomorrow, another full day will be spent out on the waters! This time with a much faster boat though…

Day 31: To Airlie Beach

Today is just a full day of driving, as we need to travel about 500 Km’s from Mission Beach to Airlie Beach. Our GPS tell us this is about 6 hours of driving, of which we spend about half in rain and drizzle. After about three hours the skies lifted and with a welcoming committee of just a few White clouds and a very acceptable 30 degrees we arrive in Airlie Beach.

This town lies conveniently close to Whitsunday Islands National Park, which consists of about 74 tropical islands and the sea in between. The Great Barrier Reef is also close, but at about 2,5 hours travelling by boat it is much further away than in Mission Beach, where the reef is only about 40 minutes away.

What is left of the day is spent doing some shopping and planning for the following two full days, as we’ll be here for three nights and two full days. We decide to go all in, and book two different tours! Tomorrow, we will therefore be on a boat, snorkelling and sailing the Coral Sea!