A Travellerspoint blog

Cairns

Northern Queensland

Cairns

We drove during sunset to do the 5 hours from Airlie to Townsville to join up with the parents again. We had a barbie, a few beers and swapped stories before having an early night and an early rise. They said that Magnetic Island and Townsville weren’t all that and as we were running out of time, we decided to go all the way up to Cairns, which took us another 5 hours.

Due to the location of Cairns, the town enjoys sunshine all year round and is warmer than most of the places on the east coast. It enjoys the tourism from all the backpackers and holiday makers but still retains some old style character. I liken it to Darwin in many ways as it is without the skyscrapers of the other big cities but still has all the thing you would expect to find like shops, bars, clubs etc.

The first night was spent in a dodgy holiday park which due us not being able to find anything else, we were more than happy to leave the next day. Not before taking the mandatory trip to the local casino and a few of the lively bars and clubs of the town.

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Posted by JimmyHill 18:15 Comments (0)

The Whitsunday Islands

Queensland

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The Whitsundays contain over 90 islands, mostly uninhabited and continental (the tips of underwater mountains). The surrounding water is a marine park and fall within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Still tired from last night, we had to get all our stuff together and get to Shute Harbour to catch the morning ferry to one of the islands. When we arrived we decided to meet my parents a day later and stay a night on the island, thanks to a deal they were doing at the time.

Our first stop was Hamilton Island, which we stayed for two hours. The most built up of all the islands, Hamiton has the big flashy resorts and a few of the high rise hotels aswell. It attracts the money aswell, judging by the size of some of the boats at the marina. We spent out time looking round the colonial style shops on the wharf. Unfortunately we didn’t have time but the only way to get around the island is to scoot around on a golf buggy like some crazy golfers grand prix. We also saw the Koala Sanctuary on the island.

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After the lunch on the boat, our next and main stop was Whitsunday Island and Whitehaven Beach. The biggest of the islands, we spent the four hours we were there relaxing on Whitehaven Beach on the south-eastern tip. Supposedly the best beach in Australia and one of the best in the world.

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Then onto Long Island where we were spend the night. The island is only 2km wide and 9km long but big enough to house 3 resort, one of which was the Long Island Beach Resort, which it turns out we were to come back to but not know at the time. Nice resort with loads to do, such as the rainforest walks, which we did the following day and a good beach, which we spent a few hours on before getting the boat back to Shute Harbour and Airlie Beach.

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Posted by JimmyHill 17:45 Comments (1)

Airlie Beach

Queensland

A quick four and a half hour journey on the Bruce Highway took us from Yeppoon to Airlie Beach.

Sitting between the Great Dividing Range and the coast, Airlie is a jumping resort town and gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Backpackers seem to outnumber everyone else here, coming into town by the busload to do the Whitsunday sail but spend most of their time frequenting the nightspots around town.

We arrived in Airlie in the afternoon and spent the next good few hours looking for accommodation, which wasn’t easy. I suppose just coming into the high season we were to expect this.

First impressions were that of the guidebook, busy resort with loads of shops, cafes and bars and even more young backpackers all out for a good time, needless to say my parents weren’t that enthusiastic. We spent the day lounging by the artificial lagoon as despite the name Airlie doesn’t have any beach to speak of. And at night after the folks were off, we went to a few bars including a place which had a foam party on the first night and a wet t shirt comp the second.

We spent two days in Airlie before going our separate ways, not being a big fan of long boat journeys, my parents decided to go onto Townsville and Magnetic Island and we decided to do a tour of the Whitsundays before meeting them up there.

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Posted by JimmyHill 23:41 Comments (1)

Yepoon/Great Keppel Island

Queensland

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Whilst making our way up to Airlie Beach, we decided to do a pit stop and stay for a few nights somewhere along the way. That somewhere is Yeppoon. While its also the gateway to Great Keppel Island, Yeppoon is an attractive seaside town in its own right. Just south of Yeppoon, is Rosslyn Bay, the departure point for Great Keppel.

After having a few issues getting accommodation in Yeppoon, we stumbled across a 3 bedroom apartment which is right on the beach, which is a stroke of luck. During our first night, although we didn’t have too much luck in the last casino, my dad insisted on having another go and with his sense of finding these things, it didn’t take us long.

We took a ferry over to Great Keppel Island during the morning of writing this section. The landscape is ok though, expansive beaches, motionless blue water, bottle green forests peppered with walking tracks. But of course we didn’t really make the most of it and spent all of our time on the beach which we could’ve done anywhere I suppose. But it was still nice especially since it was the best sunshine we’ve had for a long while.

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Onto Airlie Beach

Posted by JimmyHill 02:34 Comments (1)

Fraser Island

Off the coast of Hervey Bay

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The worlds largest sand island was created thousands of years ago by longshore drift and sand washing off Australia’s east coast. Its hard to imagine as looking at this from the shore, it has an interior of rainforests, gorges, streams and swimming lakes. All of these are on a landscape that is 120km by 15km surface area and due to the enormous depth, contains more sand than the Sahara desert – apparently.

We had a choice of two ways of getting over onto the island, either getting the passenger ferry and getting on an organised tour, or doing the fly drive. Taking off from Hervey Bay on a single-engine 7 seater Cessna and landing on the beach on Fraser, then renting a 4WD and doing the island ourselves. Its fair to say that after a dodgy experience at the Grand Canyon in America, my parents we quite happy to get on the tour but we managed to convince them otherwise.

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Theres a strange feel about Fraser Island, as 4WDs and buses with towering wheel bases and fat, chunky tyres all pull in to refuel against an idyllic beach backdrop of white sand and waving palm trees. The abundance of sand and the lack of paved roads mean that only these vehicles can negotiate the island.

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Well worth it though, the sights from the air were just awesome, a bit daunting at times, especially when the pilot was not much older than Servane or me but we got on and off the island without dramas (although my mum had her eyes shut the entire time). We took the 4WD on the highway of the island (the beach) and visited places like Lake McKenzie with clear blue waters formed by water accumulating on top of a thin layer of twigs and leaves, the Maheno, a passenger liner that was blown ashore by a cyclone in 1935 and Central Station which apart from anything else the experience of driving through a thick jungle on top of pure white sand hills is pretty bizarre. We also managed to scale the sand dunes that make up a significant part of the island and are getting bigger every year.

Lake Mckenzie
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We never stayed on the island but there was enough to keep us amused for at least a few more days, but due to timescales we had to leave.

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Central Station
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Posted by JimmyHill 02:21 Comments (0)

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