Sailing the Whitsundays
Trip Start Apr 19, 2010
131Trip End Apr 18, 2011
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On the bus ride up to Brisbane, we decided to take a better look at what our itinerary would be for the next few days before getting to Cairns for our dive trip. We realized that making our way to Cairns from Brisbane would be a full 31 hour train ride so we wanted to find a stop along the way to split it up. We've been hearing fantastic things about the Whitsunday Islands and so decided to detour our trip there, as it's a little over halfway up to Cairns. The trains and buses up to Cairns only run on certain days of the week, and the only available train we could take to get there (and make it up to Cairns on time) left the next morning. So we got into Brisbane at about 11pm and left the next morning at 7am to catch our train. I guess this is partly what having flexible travel plans is all about. We were really excited to see what the Whitsundays were all about, so the trade-off was not hard to make
This train ride was a little different because it was a full day of travel, including an over night part, totalling 19 hours. Riding for so long was a bit more monotonous, but it was really cool to be able to look outside and see the countryside as it passed by, as opposed to seeing our typical dead of night. (We also started a runng gin match, with Paul leading 8 games to 2. But don't worry, Lindsey is just warming up.) We made it into Airly Beach, the take off point for the Whitsundays, shortly after at 4am, after a bus transfer 30 minutes before. As usual, the town was still asleep, so the bus driver dropped us off at McDonald's, as it was the only place opened. This was perfect because it gave us a chance to catch up on the blog and skype our family, since McDonald's generally has free wi-fi. We got to chat with Mom and Dad Hamilton, Wayne, Scott, and Lindsay!
When it started to get light outside, Paul started to walk around the town to see if there was some way we would be able to go sailing around the islands and maybe do a little snorkeling. He came back in a jiffy saying he purchased a mini trip for the two of us to take, which included both sailing, snorkeling, and and overnight stay. Great! When does it leave? 5 minutes. 5 minutes!?!? Lindsey quickly said goodbye on Skype and we caught a taxi down to the marina, making it just in time
We got a great backpacker deal for the trip and it was the backpacking honeymoon we never had. It was amazing. We spent the morning sailing through the Whitsunday Passage and around the islands on our unmistakably purple sail boat. And did I mention they were serving cookies? Excellent. We ate our snacks and admired the gorgeous scenery before stopping for a quick snorkel. The Whitsundays are the very lowest portion of the Great Barrier Reef, even though it is about 700km south of the major jumping off points for the popular diving spots. We saw some coral, along with fish and other marine life. It was a fun way to get our feet wet before our dive trip in a few days (pun intended).
Following the snorkeling, we headed back to the sail boat for some more food (yes!) and more sailing. We made our way toward Whitehaven Beach, a historic site holding 5 km of white, sandy beach. It was absolutely beautiful. We took a zodiak to shore and marvelled at the pristineness of the area. As we walked along the beach, we saw about 10 yards from us a massive stingray! It's body was probably about 3.5 feet by 3 feet with a long, stretched out tail. It was huge and so close to us. We were thankkful not to be swimming in the water at that point. We could also see other little fish swimming about, as the water was crystal clear. We couldn't help but feel like we were in a make-believe world, and just as we were talking about how amazing this place was, butterflies fluttered by. Seriously, it was right out of a movie.
Upon embarking the sailboat once more, there was a massive BBQ waiting for us. We spent the rest of the afternoon eating and sailing around the Whitsundays (we even passed Hamilton Island!) before arriving on Day Dream Island, where we were to catch the ferry to our overnight stay on Long Island, another once of the Whitsunday islands
The fairy tale continued as we sailed to Long Island as the sun was setting. The sky was saturated with oranges and pinks and purples like we've never seen. It set the scene for the huge suprise we would be getting when we arrived at our accomodation at Long Island Resort. Now, many accomodations are named "resorts" when they are in beachy areas, including the dorm hostels we generally stay at. Our accomodation was included in the trip price that we paid for and said it was "dorm style" sleeping arrangements. Well this "resort" was a resort in every sense of the word. The reception area over looked the pool and restaurant, which overlooked the waters and islands of the Whistundays. It was beautiful. The pool even had bar stools in the water so you could be served your food and drinks while in the pool itself. It was awesome. Our lodging was situated a short walk through the wooded area, past the tennis courts and minigolf. They were dorm rooms, but only four beds to a room and they separated all parties so that each party had their own room
As we walked back to the poolside dinner, we passed through the brush to see real wallabies on our way. A true Australian adventure! There was a mom and baby and we were stunned to be able to get a picture of them before they ran off further into the forest. We spent the rest of the evening in wonder at the day that we had stumbled on, not knowing what we were getting ourselves into, but certainly happy with what we got. Oh, and there was a trivia game at the resort and we unsuccessfully participated. Did you know a group of jellyfish is called a "smack?"
The following day we ate an early lunch with some young people we met from Canada and spent the majority of the morning beach side, overlooking the Whitsundays from our lounge chairs underneath a big grassy umbrella, and napping in and out. After the overnight train, and the amazing we fun we had in the sun all day prior, those zzz's were sorely needed. We caught the afternoon ferry back to Airlie Beach, found accommodation for the night, and readied ourselves for the train ride the next day, bound for Cairns, where our highly anticipated dive trip awaits!