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Airlie Beach

Gateway to the Whitsundays

sunny 24 °C
View Simon & Michelle Down Under on cooneys's travel map.

The Virgin Blue flight took us up the Queensland coast and we could see miles upon miles of beaches enroute to Proserpine airport, the gateway to the Whitsundays. Proserpine airport does things a bit differently – most of the waiting seats are outside beside the runway. We asked where baggage collection was and were told to go out to the car park and you collect it there. The cart that collects the cases from the plane drives from the runway into the car park alongside the terminal building and everyone just grabs their cases of it – much better than watching the interminable merry go round. The other thing we noticed was the heat – about 26c and sunny. It felt like the 2nd half of our Oz trip, was going to have a more tropical flavour.
When we arrived at our apartments at Airlie Beach the spa suite room we booked was lovely, including the large Jacuzzi (which was great with a nice bottle of sauv blanc).
Airlie Beach is quite a small town which is geared for booking excursions to the Whitsundays. It is also a lively town in the evenings and there are a couple of large youth hostel complexes, the main one being Magnums. This has a huge beer garden and nightclub which you pass when you’re heading from the beer garden. I noticed that the stage in the club has a pole in the middle of it – I wonder what that could be for?
The next day we were collected early and headed for our Whitsundays cruise – but where had the sun gone? It was pretty cloudy and the forecast was that a front was passing over the next 2 days which would mean dodgier weather – we’ve been spoilt so far so we can’t really complain, but I’m sure we will. On boat trips we sometimes like to try and guess the nationalities of other travellers. Its normally fairly easy – for example, Germans are usually quite strangely dressed while Italians are the opposite. Young Italian men tend to walk around like proud posing peacocks. Americans are normally excluded as you usually hear them before you have an opportunity to guess. All of these were visible on our boat – there was also one curveball. There was a bloke in a Celtic tracksuit top – however he didn’t have that general haggard Glasgow look - of a life of disappointment, lack of sunshine and borderline alcoholism. He looked bronzed, slim and coiffured. I then noticed he had shaved his legs – you could see the signs of slight stubble so you knew he actually shaved them, Michelle even remarked “I wish I had legs like him”. I then noticed a tour de France baseball cap – that was the picture completed; he was an Italian competitive cyclist. I could never take part in a sport that requires you to shave your legs, that and my dodgy knee.
On our way to Whitehaven beach there was a guy with a huge telescopic camera who spent 20 minutes taking hundreds of photos of a nondescript hill on one island – 20 minutes! WTF – you would have thought he was doing a playboy photo shoot or something, it was a bloody hill. It’s funny that even though we were sailing in the idyllic Whitsundays, I still get frustrated by a plonker.
I had an image of sailing the Whitsundays which was a boat effortlessly gliding across a turquoise, perfectly calm sea. The reality was different, yes the sea was turquoise but it wasn’t calm, in fact at times it reminded me of an Irish Sea crossing. Michelle was glad she had taken a travel tablet before we set sail.
We then arrived at Whitehaven and the sun started to appear! Whitehaven beach was spectacular – it’s always listed as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, indeed we were informed that its silica (pure sand) content was the highest in the world at 99.7%.
It also has moisturising properties and after rubbing it on your fingertips they did feel noticeably softer (and there was me slagging off the cyclist for being a big girl). When the sand was damp it felt like a paste – really unusual. We then sailed to a bay to view the multi coloured coral and fish. We were informed that in sunshine Coral produces an oil to protect it from the sun and scientists have recently discovered that this is the most effective sun block in existence. They are now trying to see if it can be mass produced, in an environmentally sensitive way, so it can be used as sun tan lotion. After the coral bay we then sailed back to Airlie in evening sunshine.
That night we headed to a Mexican restaurant – where we had terrific fajitas and margaritas though I think I might regret the side of suicide sauce.
That’s me signing off again – its Tuesday morning and I’ve typed this on my balcony with white cockatoos sitting in the tree opposite – you don’t get that in South Belfast (not East Belfast Lynne!).
Each entry we type in word on my notebook and when we manage to get internet access somewhere I just copy and paste it on to the web page. For us it’s been a fun and effective way to keep in touch because of the 10 hour time difference and we’ve enjoyed being able to post a selection of photos too (it’s only a very small selection as we’ve taken about 400 in total!)
We are heading to luxurious Hamilton Island for a one night stay – the weather is looking a bit changeable, though sunny at the moment, but at least on Hamilton Island there’s loads to do! Talk soon!

Bay View Spa suite that has a jacuzzi looking out over the turquoise Coral Sea

Posted by cooneys 01:04 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites

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