Backpacking around the Whitsundays
10. VISIT WHITEHAVEN BEACH
This 7km stretch of the pure white sand and sparkling blue waters tucked away along the coastline of Whitsunday Island is beyond astounding; the image of this landscape has become synonymous with the island paradise of Australia and is a natural wonder in its own right.
Naturally being an island Whitehaven is only accessible by boat; luckily Airlie provides a wealth of vessels providing various day and overnight trips at affordable prices.
The swirling sands of Whitehaven are best viewed at low tide, which is perhaps easier to catch on overnight tours due to the freedom provided by waking up along the coastline of the island; but equally day tours provide a slightly more affordable way to explore the area if finances are not so available.
9. GET AN ‘ISLAND DAY HOPPER PASS’ AND VISIT THE ISLANDS
An Island day hopper pass makes visiting the islands and touring the reef as simple as catching a bus; but with all the style of a high speed vessels and beautiful island resorts. Armed with nothing more than a pass and a timetable the ‘reef is your oyster’.
The day hopper pass gives you absolute freedom to tour the islands as you see fit; whether it’s adventure or pampering you’re after, the day pass gives you the opportunity to experience it all on your own timeframe.
8. SEE THE REEF FROM THE AIR
See the reef from a new perspective! From the air the reef takes an entirely new shape; emphasising the singular living organism and the amazing ecosystem shaped along our coastline.
Numerous parts of the reef are protected; preventing snorkelers and divers entering the area; and as such is only accessible by air. Heart Reef is perhaps the best example of why this is well worth the effort; this naturally forming composition of coral takes the shape of a perfect vibrant heart from the sky; and remains one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the area.
Flights over Heart Reef usually float around the $200 mark, and tend to fly over a few of the more spectacular areas of the reef.
7. DIVE/SNORKEL THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
Whether you’re a certified diver or about to experience a whole new world the Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth to start exploring.
As a new diver expect to receive an induction training session before diving; and sessions where you will be accompanied by exceptionally well trained instructors. This format provides the freedom to create your own experience in the absolute safety of well trained professionals.
The Whitsundays has a wealth of great dive spots, all of which deserve investigation. Probably the best way to make sure you get the most out the opportunity is through some of the great overnight tours; these all tend to visit a few of the better spots and provide great local insight into where, what, how, and when is the best time to explore the reef.
6. THE WHITSUNDAY GREAT WALK
Travel inland and explore the lowland tropical rainforest, and landscape forged by extensive volcanic activity millions of years ago in the Conway State Forest. The Whitsunday Great Walk leads you around a natural paradise with abundant indigenous wildlife, and provides a great way to explore a part of the area less well travelled. And all for free!
For the adrenaline junkies; witness Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays from an entirely new perspective; incomparable views and an unrivalled rush. Location is everything, and it doesn’t get any better! Take the leap; and if you’re never the same again; well at least you got that profile pic you’ve been after.
4. RENT A MINI MOKE
Tour the creeks, the beaches, the lookouts, in style. Take the 60’s inspired Mini Moke for a spin and let this fun 4WD convertible give you the freedom to explore. With weekly rates around the $400 mark and petrol friendly motors, rent is affordable on most budgets.
3. VISIT CEDAR CREEK FALLS
14Km off the road between Airlie and Proserpine hidden away is the picturesque little oasis of Cedar Creek Falls; an area of outstanding natural beauty and welcoming fauna. Although the falls are far more impressive in the wet season, the pools remain idyllic swimming conditions all year around; and provide the perfect backdrop for bush walks, lazy days and an invigorating swim.
2. GO TO THE LOOKOUTS
The Airlie coastline is speckled with lookouts covering the untamed natural beauty of the area; to name a few of the notable:
- Honeyeater Lookout: Situated on the Whitsunday Great Walk and requiring a moderately uphill 2.5Km walk, this lookout provides scenic views of the surrounding rainforest canopy; overlooking the Cannonvale side of town.
- Coral Beach Lookout: Through creeks and forests this trail snakes around the Shutehaven coastline and toward the aptly named Coral Beach. This walk is favoured by locals and provides spectacular views of Shute Harbour and the Whitsunday Passage.
- Mt. Rooper Lookout: This trail provides enormous opportunity to see native flora and fantastic views of the Whitsunday Islands and the Whitsunday Passage.
1. VISIT BOWEN/ HORSESHOE BAY
A forty minute drive outside of Airlie Beach sits the vibrant town of Bowen; locally known for two main things; all year around fruit picking, and spectacular beaches.
Out of the twelve beaches adorning the coastline of Bowen, Horseshoe Bay is by far the most popular. Forged of granite rock and boulders, this picturesque little beach lies roughly 4Km out of the town centre, and boasts the iconic landmark of Mother Beddock.
Although there is notably no surf here, swimming/ snorkelling conditions are considered excellent.
by Jake Peacey