Sailing The Whitsundays & Partying in Airlie Beach

Trip Start Aug 20, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Thursday, September 18, 2008

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We left Bowen on Tuesday, September 16 with Airlie Beach as our destination. Airlie Beach is a very popular backpacker town on the beach with a 3-4 block main strip full of touristy shops, cute cafes and, of course, bars. After another day full of grilled cheese, PB&Js and toast with butter and jam... we were VERY ready for a trip on The Whitsundays Islands with REAL food!

On Wednesday, September 17, we disembarked from the marina in Airlie for our 3 day/2 night sailing adventure around the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. We booked this sailing trip along with our 4WD Fraser Island adventure when we were back in Cairns (traveler's tip: it's WAY more economical to book these 2 trips together!). The sailing boat we chose to sail around the islands on was an 83ft Maxi ocean racing yacht named Boomerang.  Boomerang (once called Ondine VII) won 1st place in the World Maxi Series race and also races in the US, Japan and NZ up until it was retired in 2001. Needless to say, a pretty impressive boat (!

We joined 19 other 20-somethings on the boat. We were an electric group from literally all around the world: 2 French guys, 3 Koreans, 3 Scottish dudes, 5 Brits, 2 German girls (each traveling solo - yikes!), 1 New Yorker (go US!!), 2 young Swedish girls and 1 loan Swedish guy. The 3 of us were immediately coined "Team America".... just like we were called on the Reef Encounter boat in Cairns! We spent the 3 days on the boat snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, sunbathing on the boat decks, visiting islands and playing drinking games at night. All of us, including the 3 crew members (Lachy- pronounced "Lucky," Shannon and Gemma), ate our 3 meals a day together and all slept below deck together in one giant room. The 3 of us shared a bunk bed with a single bed on top and a double bed on the bottom. There were other such bunks throughout the cabin... tight quarters to say the least!! We managed and even didn't mind it... it was a nice break from Rex!

The Reef around the Whitsundays isn't as nice as the Reef up in Cairns - a lot more dead coral and not as many fish. However, the Whitsundays Islands themselves are amazing. Consisting of 74 small islands, the Whitsundays are totally protected by national law and are uninhabited except for a few ridiculously expensive and unnecessary tourist resorts. We stopped at the largest island in the Whitsundays - Whitsunday Island - home of breathtaking Whitehaven Beach (

Whitehaven Beach is made up of 99.98% silica sand and is one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. The white sand is great for ex-foliating... so we were literally ROLLING ourselves around in it, trying to get our skin as smooth as possible. Unfortunately, we were only able to stay at the beach for a few hours on Thursday until we had to get back onto Boomerang.

Besides just lounging around and sailing on Boomerang, we actually had to SAIL the boat, too (what kind of vacation is this anyway!?). It was kinda cool though to steer the boat or hoist the sails... well, maybe for a minute at least! We got to see a few dolphins and even a humpback whale, too! Very cool.

On Friday around noon, our adventure was over. However, the boat had arranged for everyone to get together that night at a large bar called Beaches at 7:30. When we got off the boat, we did our standard grocery shopping (more PB&J, pasta, bread, etc.) and also made a special purchase - ingredients for fajitas for tomorrow night! After all, Saturday night was September 20 - our one month of traveling anniversary! 

After checking into the caravan park at Wanderers in downtown Airlie, we drank some goon (box wine) and headed to the bar to hang out with our new friends. A very fun night filled with drinking games and dancing. Needless to say... we were home in bed by midnight!

We spent Saturday lounging at the massive lagoon in Airlie and uploading pictures (this process seriously takes forever). We made our one-month anniversary dinner of fajitas and drank a bottle of wine we purchased a few weeks back at a winery. We made it out to Morocco's (the #1 nightclub in Airlie... yea, right), met some random sketchy locals (of course) then called it an early night.

On Sunday the 21st, we said goodbye to Airlie and the amazing Whitsunday Islands and climbed into Rex again. Time for Team America to head south again to McKay, Rockhampton, and beyond!
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