Fun Airlie on the Whitsundays
Trip Start May 01, 2010
58Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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WEEK 11 AIRLIE BEACH WITH BOWEN EN ROUTE
Once again we crossed the Burdekin River Bridge and drove through Home Hill and made our way to Bowen. This time we noticed the Lion Fruit Tree Park with mango trees in full flower. In mango season no doubt the locals arrange to meet friends there for a mango picnic?! A couple kilometres outside town we drove past the turnoff to Burdekin Agriculture College. We wondered if they teach much other than sugar cane growing with a unit of mango and vegie production thrown in for good measure!
Bowen’s claim to fame is having the film ‘AUSTRALIA’ partially filmed there hence the water tank on the hill with the words ‘BOWENWOOD’ emblazoned on the side. Watch out Hollywood!! As we approached Bowen we saw rocky mountains which were possibly in the movie ‘Australia’ but will have to watch the DVD again. “Bowen’s 15 minutes of fame came in May 2007 when the cast and crew of Baz Luhrmann’s epic move Australia set up shop here. The cast and crew were impressed with Bowen’s low-key, unhurried atmosphere.” This is where the scenes of Darwin were shot so possibly it is as Darwin used to be in the 1930s. “Although the town itself holds little of interest to travellers (except those who are interested in fruit picking April and November) there are some stunning beaches and bays north east of the town centre.” We caught a glimpse of one of the beautiful beaches for which it is renowned as a holiday place to enjoy various water sports, but we were busy trying to find the best place to get a photo of the water tanks. We had been told that in the school holidays it is impossible to get accommodation or a van site as it is a very popular place for the North Queenslanders to enjoy their school holidays in the area.
“Bowen is famous for it’s Mangoes” the road sign read and we had to stop to take a photo of the famous Big Mango! We drove passed many mango and vegetable farms with the tomatoes being planted between black plastic to keep the weeds under control. The first huge expanse of plastic and no plants yet visible, we initially mistook for water as the sun shimmered on the plastic.
From Bowen we had 100kms to travel to Airlie Beach and a few kilometres out of town was the sign “Whitsunday Region”. The region stretches from just south of Bowen to north of Mackay.
We hadn’t seen cattle for quite a while with so much sugar cane around so it was a nice change to see them munching away in the fields. We were just commenting on not being in the cane area anymore today until we turned off the Bruce Highway towards Airlie Beach and we were back into Cane Fields! We are totally caned out and we aren’t even going to speak of these cane fields.
As we drove closer to our next home, the clouds came up and we could see the rain in the distance. Our caravan park is on the other side of Airlie Beach and by the time we arrived it was raining as we struggled to get the van into the awkward site. It was so warm though that once the rain stopped we were quickly dry again and settled down to a much needed cup of tea.
Our first sight of Airlie Beach as we came round the bend and looked down at the harbour with all the sailing boats, reminded us of Horseshoe Bay in Auckland. Then as we drove through the small, very touristy town we were surprised at how many people were walking around. We are looking forward to going back into town the next day to see what they were all doing there.
Before we knew it, we were out of the town centre and driving past the Mansions and Luxury Resorts balanced on the hillside overlooking the Islands of the Whitsunday. A couple of kilometres further down the road we arrived at the Airlie Cove Resort and Caravan Park where we are staying for a couple of nights. It seems to be a busy place and we were surprised the local bush turkey didn’t get run over with all the vehicles coming and going. Mike thought it might make a good dinner! People were still arriving until late in the evening, even after 8pm in the dark and someone with a noisy car and children had much difficulty getting their van into the site behind us. Also a Kea Campervan arrived about that time and decided it was time to have a spring clean. Eventually by about 10pm the sliding door of the campervan banged shut for the last time and the children were put to bed in the van behind us and peace prevailed!
In the morning we were pleased to see lovely blue skies as we headed into Airlie Beach. The Lonely Planet Guide aptly describes the town: “For such a small town, Airlie Beach positively hums with energy….Airlie bristles with holiday makers from all corners of the globe… Airlie itself is the base from which to explore the Whitsunday Islands.” In 1770, Captain Cook sailed into the Whitsunday Passage on Whit Sunday (June 3rd) discovering the Great Barrier Reef by running aground on a submerged reef. Hence the name Whitsunday and one of the Islands is called Pentecost Island.
We arrived fairly early and found a park right by the Lagoon in the centre of town costing $4 for 24 hours. Wow! We have hit backpacker/tourist/holiday destination big time. Everywhere there were backpackers coming and going or relaxing in the back of the campervans. We walked down along Bicentennial Walkway along boardwalks and paths on a 7km circuit as far as Canonvale Beach and had a drink at Canonvale Markets before walking back via the Marina.
There were so many dogs off their leads having a whale of a time either in the water or running after balls patiently thrown continually by their owner. A couple of men were running their radio controlled boats in a little bay with a Jack Russel dog racing up and down the beach barking at it but not wishing to actually get into the water to chase it! All along people were strolling, cycling, or swimming. We passed many lovely apartments and resorts. When we were back at the little town we walked around passed all the little shops selling bathing suits, hats, postcards and everything a traveller and holiday maker could desire.
So many restaurants with reasonably priced food, but we ended up buying one portion of fish and chips to share down by the Lagoon.