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About Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Region is situated midway along the Queensland Coast between Bowen and Mackay, and encompasses the small towns of Proserpine, Collinsville, Bowen, Cannonvale, Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour and the 74 islands of the Whitsunday Group. Most of the islands are beautifully untouched national parks, however there are a handful of islands that contain world-class resorts.
In June 1770 on Whit Sunday, Lieutenant James Cook sailed through the passage between Cape Conway and the islands which he named the Whitsunday Passage. Cook named the surrounding islands 'Cumberland Isles' and later, once surveyed, the Cumberland Islands were divided into smaller groups - the Whitsunday Group, the Lindeman Group, the Molle Group and the Northern Group.
The Whitsunday Group:
Islands within the Whitsunday Group form the Whitsunday Islands National Park which protects 32 islands, including world famous Whitsunday Island with its pure white sand and clear waters. The Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail is one of Queensland’s Great Walks, taking you to iconic destinations and extensive walking tracks across Whitsunday, South Molle and Hook islands.
Hamilton Island is the largest of the Whitsunday Island resorts. It is the only island on the Great Barrier Reef with its own commercial airport receiving direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns, plus good connections from other Australian cities. 70% of the island is national park, however for the remainding 30%, the island offers an action packed experience like no other. There are five resorts on the island ranging from 3 star to 5 star plus, numerous dining opportunities ranging from restaurants, takeaway outlets and bars, over 60 activities to choose from, 20km of walking trails and an animal adventure park. Hamilton Island’s new world-class facilities include the Hamilton Island Golf Club, the architectural wonder of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club and Spa Wumurdaylin. With a host of activities and entertainment, the island provides a fresh and lively place for resort guests and day visitors.
Hayman Island is the most northerly island of the Whitsundays Group and the most awarded five-star resort island, inviting guests into a world of privacy, luxury, relaxation, fine wines, abundant dining and breathtaking scenery. Accommodation comprises of 210 beautifully appointed rooms, suites, penthouses and a villa, all featuring private terraces or balconies and offering breathtaking views of pools, lagoons, beach, gardens or the Coral Sea.
Hayman Island has a long-standing reputation as a food lover’s paradise with a range of culinary experiences that will create lifetime memories. Fontaine is Australia’s signature resort restaurant; the menu features contemporary Australian cuisine inspired by the finest locally sourced produce, presented by Hayman’s Chefs. Apart from dining, Hayman offers a wide range of pursuits to discover, whether you're looking for relaxation, indulgence, health, or adventure; and not only do the adults get to have all the fun, children are most welcome on the island, with experts at the World Travel Awards naming Hayman the Leading Family Resort.
Hook Island is a rugged island, mostly national park, with breathtaking lookouts and excellent snorkelling and scuba diving. If you're taking a day or overnight snorkelling trip, you'll almost be guaranteed a stop at one of Hook Island's sheltered bays for amazing snorkelling. Manta Ray Bay, Maureen’s Cove, Butterfly Bay, Luncheon Bay and Mackeral Bay offer amazing, protected snorkelling, and Nara Inlet is the region's most protected overnight anchorage. A visit to the historical observatory is a must-do, descending nine metres below sea level to view coral and marine life.
Several Aboriginal cave shelters can be found on Hook Island by following the island walking tracks. Hook Island is ideal for families wanting to get back to nature and spend some quality time together, couples who wish to re-discover nature's adventure on this secluded paradise, or individuals looking to reward themselves with some time out. Various levels of budget accommodation are available at Hook Island Wilderness Resort including camping facilities, dorm style rooms, standard rooms and ensuite rooms. The cafe bistro opens from midday for in house guests and passing yacht crews.
The Lindeman Group:
Lindeman Islands National Park is set 35km south-east of Shute Harbour. Access is by private or commercial boat from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour. Lindeman Islands National Park protects 14 islands and features a variety of vegetation types including rainforest in sheltered pockets, open forest in drier areas, grasslands and wetlands. Camping is available on Lindeman Island or Shaw Island, however facilities are minimal as it is a remote island camping experience. A resort remains on Lindeman Island, however at this stage it is closed until further notice.
The Molle Group of islands includes South Molle Island, North Molle Island, Planton Island, Denman Island, Tancred Island and Long Island.
Koala Adventure Island Resort
South Molle Island is the largest of the Molle Island Group and features one of the longest-established resorts in the Whitsundays, first opened in 1937. Previously known as South Molle Island Resort; Adventure Island Resort now caters predominantly to the 18 - 35 year old independent traveller. There are also camping grounds located at Sandy Bay in the south of the island and Paddle Bay to the north of the resort. South Molle features extensive birdlife that includes dozens of colourful lorikeets, currawongs and the endangered bush stone curlews. The resort has a nine hole golf course, swimming pool, pool table, great snorkelling, beach volleyball, tennis courts and the best party nights at the beachfront Discovery Bar!
Daydream Island is one of the closest of the Whitsunday Island resorts to the coast. For a small island at only 1km in length and 500m wide it boasts a huge range of fun filled activities, magical dining experiences, contemporary facilities, secluded beaches and stunning rainforest. Take part in island activities including snorkelling, sailboarding, jet skiing, parasailing, coral viewing, reef fishing and scuba diving - or stay dry and play tennis, volleyball, badminton or Putt Your Way Around Australia on the themed mini-golf course.
Professional child care is available for children from 6 weeks to 12 years at the Skipper's Club. Younger guests adore the Jungle Jumble Kids Playground, watching the latest Hollywood blockbusters under the stars at the 44ft Outdoor Cinema and exploring the world's largest Outdoor Aquarium where they can feed fish, stingrays and even sharks. Guests can indulge and pamper at the $3m world-class Rejuvenation Spa. Many rooms boast uninterrupted ocean views and provide a comfortable holiday retreat both for couples and families. Daydream Island Resort and Spa also boasts several restaurants and bars each with their own distinctive tastes and style, whether you're after an intimate experience or family feast.
Long Island forms part of Molle Islands National Park and offers a couple of tourist resorts and many activities.
Long Island Resort
Long Island Resort enjoys outstanding access to the natural beauty of the Whitsundays with its location on the large Long Island National Park. Long Island has extensive walking tracks and wildlife and flora over its 9 kilometres of length. The Resort is built on the Happy Bay beachfront which is acknowledged as one of the finest beaches in the whole of the Whitsundays. The resort is currently undergoing a substantial upgrade of current facilities plus a proposed 160 new accommodation units. The resort is currently closed until further notice.
Paradise Bay Island Resort
Paradise Bay Island Resort is the perfect escape from the crowds, with a maximum of just 18 guests at any one time and no children, day visitors, mobile phones or internet - this is the ultimate, romantic, exclusive island getaway. This tranquil eco retreat is truly one of a kind combining a unique blend of eco lodges and a luxury resort. What makes it special is the attention to detail; every beachfront cabin is crafted from solid Australian hardwood, with high cathedral ceilings, and a huge front window displaying uninterrupted water views.
Each bungalow contains a King Bed featuring a custom Paradise Mattress, designer furniture, private bathroom with Molton Brown amenities, an island style Fanimation ceiling fan and solar powered lighting. Paradise Bay believe a perfect night's sleep is indeed one of life's little luxuries, and an essential part of enjoying the island to its fullest. Each day you will be treated with a variety of distinctive and delicious hand crafted gourmet meals that reflect local produce and seasonal delicacies. Leisure activities include a brand new day spa, infinity pool, kayaks and paddle boards, walking tracks, picnic lunch or sailing the Whitsundays and exploring the marinelife. A minimum 2 night stay will allow you to rediscover the simple pleasures and natural rhythm of life.
Islands in the Northern Group include Armit, Double Cone, Eshelby, Gloucester, Grassy, Olden, Rattray and Saddleback island. Predominantly National Park - some of the best snorkel spots and protected ancorages can be found around here.
The Whitsunday Coast:
The Whitsunday Coast is a peninsula that stretches from the central town of Airlie Beach along secluded beaches and inland to the picturesque hinterland of Conway National Park.
Airlie Beach is the Whitsunday’s resort town and business centre, and often the first stop for visitors to the Whitsundays area. For a small town it certainly boasts a hive of activity, and the village atmosphere projects a real relaxed holiday vibe. The Airlie Beach main street is where all the action begins, featuring an array of holiday accommodation, nightlife, restaurants, tourist booking agencies, shops and a growing number of condominiums. Step onto the esplanade and you will find the Airlie Beach Lagoon, shady grass for picnics and BBQs, and flat seaside paths ideal for walking, cycling or running. Since its opening, the lagoon has become the focal point for friends and family to enjoy a relaxing sunny day in a protected, safe environment. Airlie Beach is the epicentre of access to the Whitsunday Islands and the reef, with regular passenger ferry services departing from either Abel Point Marina or Shute Harbour daily.
Most accommodation at Airlie Beach has been designed to maximise the stunning views, with many stylish resort hotels situated on the water's edge, and apartments on the hillside overlooking the panorama of beach, bay and islands. You will also find a host of bed and breakfast options, motels, camping and caravan parks as well as a range of backpacker accommodation.
Discover the assortment of restaurants in Airlie Beach with close to fifty cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from. With fast food, alfresco cafes, gourmet meals or fine dining, the town has a large variety of options, whilst the main street boasts a friendly atmosphere during the day which continues on through to the evening.
Explore Airlie Beach and its attractions; the mainland boasts an outstanding range of activities and adventure for all the family. A new walking track has recently been completed that provides a rainforest experience close to the centre of town, for locals and visitors to enjoy. The walk presents two main features in the form of a large Fig Tree at Airlie Creek and it finishes at some beautiful rocky ponds. It also offers the chance to see some rare plant species, including the Whitsunday Bottle Tree and you might even see a Proserpine Rock Wallaby.
Live music is often enjoyed on Sunday afternoons at the Airlie Beach foreshore, enjoy a meal and music at an alfresco restaurant or grab a picnic blanket and some cheese and biscuits and sit on the beach and watch the sunset. There are free BBQs on the beach and at the Airlie Beach Lagoon. Try out the fishing pontoon at Abel Point, or go island hopping and enjoy a number of island resort facilities in a day. Just minutes from Airlie Beach, discover quiet coves, deserted beaches and rainforest. From February to June, a visit to Cedar Creek Falls is a must. This stunning natural waterfall has a year round swimming hole and its a great place to take a picnic. The Proserpine Crocodile Safari, Deja Vu long lunch or a day of shopping are other great past times.
The Airlie foreshore is always a hive of activity that locals enjoy, especially on Saturday mornings when the community markets take place from 8:00am until midday. You will find everything from fresh tropical fruits, clothing, souvenirs, accessories, original artworks and more. Airlie Beach is the hub for shopping with everything from swimwear and casual beachwear to party frocks and Whitsunday branded souvenirs. You will also find all the conveniences you could need whilst on holidays,including supermarkets and pharmacies.
Fertile tropical rainforests frame the Whitsundays coastline. Just a short trip off the main road will see you crossing trickling creeks, and entering into lush rainforest. Just off Shute Harbour Road, about halfway between Proserpine and Airlie Beach is the Cedar Creek Falls. This stunning natural waterhole features a flowing waterfall during the tropical green season (February/March). It is ideal on hot days to cool off in the naturally cool waterhole, and on wet days to watch the cascading falls.
Conway National Park lies between Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. This park includes the rainforest-clad Conway Peninsula, and protects the largest area of lowland tropical rainforest in Queensland outside Tropical North Queensland. Conway National Park boasts a number of walking tracks, taking you through a variety of vegetation types including lowland rainforest, mangroves and open forest. Take the Mt Rooper track for spectacular Whitsunday Passage and island views. This first section of the Mt Rooper Circuit climbs up through mixed forests for a view over Shute Harbour to the Conway Range. Next stop is Conway Outlook where you can soak up the panoramic vista of the Whitsunday Passage and islands at the summit. Continue from the lookout passing views to Daydream and North Molle islands, as you descend through mixed forest to meet the Swamp Bay track.
The Whitsundays and the neighbouring coastal fringe are the traditional home of the Ngaro Aboriginal people, who are also known as the 'Canoe People'. Evidence of Ngaro occupation includes stone axes and cutting tools found in a stone quarry on South Molle Island, numerous fish traps (stone structures made for catching fish) throughout the Whitsundays, and rock art discovered at Nara Inlet on Hook Island. Ngaro people were also adept at using island plants. Grasstrees provided food and tool materials, yielding starch, nectar, shoots and grubs, and the ingredients for glue, firesticks and spear handles. Coastal she-oak was used for medicinal purposes, hard wood for spears and woomera pegs, and the native hibiscus was soaked and separated, then woven into dilly bags, fishing lines, nets and ropes.
From the 1880s onwards, many Ngaro people were forcibly removed from their homeland and much of their culture disrupted. By the 1930s, few Aboriginal people remained on the islands, other than those employed by white settlers. European settlement began on the Whitsunday islands in the 1860s, mainly in the form of camps that harvested hoop pine timber to construct buildings in nearby Bowen. Tourism began in the late 1920s, with boats taking visitors on day trips, Lindeman Island one of the first to encourage visitors to stay overnight. Today, descendants of the Ngaro people actively help the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing with the management and decision making of the national parks of the Whitsundays.
Whitsunday Island is the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays, this is where you'll find the famous Whitehaven Beach with its postcard perfect pure white sand and turquoise blue water. Secluded beaches, fringing coral reefs and distinctive hoop pines complete this spectacular picture. The breathtaking beauty of Whitehaven makes it not only a Whitsundays icon, but regularly named in the top ten beaches in the world for its beauty, cleanliness and environmental protection.
The sand consists of 98% pure silica which gives it a bright white color. Take an easy uphill stroll to twin lookouts for spectacular vistas over Hill Inlet’s turquoise waters and white sweeping sands — a highly significant area to the Ngaro people. For those who prefer a challenge take the 5km (4 hour) return track to Whitsunday Peak and be rewarded with spectacular vistas on the ‘roof of the Whitsundays’.
All the walks on Whitsunday Island are part of the Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail. Whitsunday Island also supports a population of unadorned rock-wallabies; and from May to September the Whitsundays are an important calving ground for migrating humpback whales. Whitehaven Beach can be accessed in several ways. Many reef operators offer day trips and island hopping trips from Airlie Beach and some island resorts. A variety of sailing companies offer overnight tours that include a visit to Whitehaven Beach as well as other locations around the Whitsundays. The more adventurous can try ocean rafting, sea kayaking or jet boating. For the ultimate experience travel by seaplane or helicopter for spectacular views of Whitehaven and Hill Inlet.
Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail
Gain an insight into Ngaro life and culture at Ngaro Cultural Site in Nara Inlet. Experience the Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail, a unique blend of seaways and picturesque walks across Whitsunday, South Molle and Hook Islands. Walk through open forests, grasslands and rainforest. Climb rugged peaks or stroll along winding pathways. The Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail comprises of a variety of enjoyable short walks, these vary from 20 minutes return to 1 hour return, or even 4 hours return if you include the Whitsunday Peak. The Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail has several camping areas that provide easy access to walking tracks. Campgrounds are accessible by boat only. There are a number of commercial operators offering transfers to the national park islands if you do not have your own vessel. Ensure you book your transfer before obtaining a camping permit.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is truly a "must see" for those visiting the Whitsundays. One of the most highly visited regions of the Great Barrier Reef - the Whitsundays is well known for its spectacular island scenery, fringing and offshore reefs. The fragile ecosystem is home to the world’s most diverse plant and animal life, with soft and hard corals, hundreds of species of fish, turtles and visiting dolphins and whales. Surrounding the Whitsunday islands are 'fringing' reefs, these coral reefs form in clear waters around continental islands and occasionally along the mainland. They often contain a surprising diversity of corals, especially soft corals which survive better than hard corals in water with a high sediment load. The best snorkelling opportunities can be found along the northern bays of Hook, Hayman, Black and Langford islands, and though the inshore islands.
The islands and surrounding reefs provide valuable habitat for threatened species such as humpback whales, dugong, loggerhead turtles and beach-stone curlews. Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle are found within the Whitsundays—green and hawksbill turtles are commonly seen, while flatback, loggerhead, pacific ridley (olive ridley) and leatherback turtles have also been recorded.
Visited by Cruise Whitsundays, Knuckle Reef Lagoon and Hardy Reef are both outstanding reef destinations within the Great Barrier Reef. The sites have their own ecosystem with magnificent corals and a diversity of marine life found only in sheltered areas, providing a unique world for you to explore. Cruise Whitsundays is the premier reef operator in the Whitsundays, providing a full day of activity on their pontoon. You will find a choice of areas to relax and a great range of activities. There are numerous ways to explore the reef, from the underwater viewing chamber, to the semi-submersible submarines, snorkelling or intro and certified diving. The prolific fish life will surprise and delight you - especially the giant groper!
Heart Reef is the region's most romantic natural icon, and an image you'll see adorning many postcards of the Whitsundays. This magical, naturally formed heart shaped reef is in fact one of many coral bommies that make up the Great Barrier Reef, and is only 17 metres in diameter. It can only be seen aerially as from sea level it is just like any of the other bommies that neighbour it. Take a seaplane or helicopter flight with Air Whitsunday to admire this beautiful sight, or surprise a loved one with the ultimate romantic gesture. Heart Reef is an extremely popular icon amongst local and international travellers, and is the site of many many in flight proposals.
The Whitsundays are a very popular destination for scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. Numerous dive operators offer a range of experiences -anything from simply trying a dive to gaining diving qualifications with an Open Water or Advanced Open Water course. There are also sail n' dive trips and many opportunities for every skill level from novice to dive master to explore the reef. Those seeking to gain their Open Water or Advanced Open Water diving qualifications can now complete the theory online with PADI eLearning, meaning that when they arrive in Airlie Beach ready to commence their scuba dive training, they can hop straight in the water and do their first dive. Divers have the opportunity to experience stunning underwater scenery and thousands of species of brightly coloured fish and brilliantly coloured corals up close. Iconic dive sites include Blue Pearl Bay, Black Island, the Stepping Stones and the Cathedral -renowned as some of the best diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
For any sailing enthusiast, the Whitsundays is the ultimate destination, with 74 islands to explore, flat water and many sheltered anchorages to settle into at night. The Whitsundays stand out as one of the safest, most picturesque yachting destinations in the world, and there are many sailing trips to choose from depaending on your interest and time available. If you are after some adventure then choose a performance vessel and enjoy the cutting edge speed onboard a thoroughbred racer.
Join in hoisting the sails on an Eco Tallship, or kick back and relax in luxury on a modern sailing catamaran. Trips vary from 1, 2, 3 or 6 nights, visiting spectacular locations and famous landmarks amongst the islands. Sailing will give you a whole new perspective of the area as you enjoy the beauty and nature visiting secluded bays and inlets. Enjoy stunning sunrises and sunsets over uninhabited islands. All operators endeavour to visit famous Whitehaven Beach on every trip and some tours visit the outer Great Barrier Reef as well. All cruises include all meals and snorkelling, some offer diving as an optional extra too. Bareboat Charters (skipper yourself) are a popular choice for accustomed seafarers, where you can do all the discovery and enjoy the magic of sailing the Whitsunday Islands as you please. This makes for a great family adventure!
There are many opportunities for visiting the reef and islands of the Whitsundays, whether it be by boat, seaplane, jetski, scuba dive, snorkelling, fishing, skydiving or sailing. In addition you will also find a range of activities for exploring the Whitsunday Coastline and rainforest. An Eco Jet Safari will take you on a unique, thrilling and educational experience through the beautiful waterways and secluded beaches of the Northern Whitsundays, meanwhile a rainforest tour will showcase some of the oldest continuously surviving rainforests. Certainly the most popular experiences of the Whitsundays is the island hopping day tours, with many vessels including a stop at the iconic Whitehaven Beach. Sea Kayaking is a calm option suitable for beginners, families and groups, where you can explore the nearby and remote islands from a different perspective. No visit to the Whitsunday Islands would be complete without a sailing cruise!
Collinsville Rodeo, Collinsville
The Annual Rodeo Association presents an action-packed weekend! The rodeo starts at 6 pm Saturday and includes full Rodeo, Bulls, Broncs and Barrels, followed by live music. Sunday sees the Junior and Novice Rodeo from 9am. Numerous practice days and Rodeo schools at our grounds to help junior and local competitors hone their skills. Bar, canteen and free camping.
Bowen River Rodeo & Campdraft, Bowen - 10 to 12 June, 2016
Bowen River Rodeo and Campdraft is held over the Queens Birthday Long weekend in June. The campdraft begins Friday morning; Junior Rodeo starts on Saturday morning and the Open Rodeo events follow. Junior Bush Sports are available for the kids as well, held on both Saturday and Sunday.
Whitsundays Show, Proserpine 22 to 24 June, 2016
This is the 102nd annual show, a great two-day event with a strong emphasis on the agricultural aspect. Show holiday is on Friday.
Bowen Show, Bowen - 28 June, 2016
Expect to see the top class displays of all primary activities in the region. This will be Bowen's 131st show and it's going to be a big one!
Airlie Beach Race Week - 11 to 18 August, 2016
Airlie Beach Race Week is the premier sailing event of the year for Whitsunday Sailing Club. Racing around the islands of the Whitsunday Passage or around the bouys in Pioneer Bay, the weather is great and the scenery spectacular. There are racing divisions to suit all yachts from IRC for the sailing heavyweights to Cruising for those who prefer a less serious race.
Hamilton Island Race Week - 20 to 27 August, 2016
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is one of Australia’s favourite yachting events and a firm fixture on the international sailing calendar. Competitors, family and friends come together to enjoy the convivial atmosphere and unique camaraderie of the event’s on-water and off-water carnival.
Whitsunday Reef Festival - 5 to 14 August, 2016
The Whitsunday Reef Festival is the largest community festival event in Airlie Beach created to celebrate the tropical lifestyle and aspects of the locality that make Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays so unique! Enjoy starlight movies, the hilarious Comedy Gala, make a sand sculpture on the beach and come down for the Telstra Family Fun Day for fun and games on the beautiful foreshore.
Airlie Beach Music Festival - 3 to 6 November, 2016
Enjoy 74 Bands in 16 venues in 3 Days! Airlie Beach is set to be rocking like it has never rocked before.
The Whitsundays are serviced by two main airports, Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island and the Whitsunday Coast Airport in Proserpine. Direct flights operate to both airports from Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne; serviced daily by Virgin Australia and Qantas. Five kilometres up the coast from Airlie Beach is the smaller Whitsunday Airport - a light plane airport mainly used for island connections and scenic adventure flights.
Launching on 28 October 2013 will be the new 'Spirit of Queensland' route from Brisbane to Cairns. The Spirit of Queensland route will include a new addition to the fleet, with a brand new state-of-the-art Tilt Train that includes the revolutionary RailBed seats, personal entertainment system with on-demand movies, towel and personal amenity pack amongst some of the new onboard inclusions. Two refurbished tilt trains will remain on service with all three tilt trains operating the Spirit of Queensland route by late 2014. Northbound departures are Monday and Friday, and Southbound departures Wednesday and Sunday; travelling the state's coastline from Cairns to Brisbane and all regional areas including Proserpine. Bus connections are available from Proserpine station into Airlie Beach, and connecting with ferry departures either from Abel Point Ferry Terminal or Shute Harbour.
Greyhound Australia is Australia’s only national bus service that has a national fleet operating 365 days a year. Greyhound has numerous departures from Brisbane and Cairns on a daily basis stopping in at most major towns and cities along the way including Airlie Beach. Travel time from Brisbane is around 19 hours, meanwhile from Cairns to Airlie Beach is approx 11 hours. The coaches are very comfortable, designed for long distance travel with frequent stops along the way. If you're after making a mini adventure of it up the coast then you can purchase a hop on hop off travel pass or a kilometre pass and go wherever the wind takes you (or bus!).
The Bruce Highway is Queensland's main route connecting Brisbane to Cairns. Turn off to the Whitsundays at Proserpine along the Bruce Highway. It's about 7 hours from Cairns to Airlie Beach, about 9 hours from Airlie Beach to Hervey Bay (Fraser Island) and about 12 hours from Airlie Beach to Brisbane.
Getting to the islands
There are two ferry departure points operating from Airlie Beach to the Whitsunday Islands - Abel Point Marina and Shute Harbour. Cruise Whitsundays operate resort connections between these launch points and Hamilton Island, Daydream Island and Long Island. They also provide a dedicated coach service with meet and greet, connecting passengers from Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine) with all island ferry departures. All services are timed to suit flight departures. Hayman Island provides a luxury launch service to meet all their guests from Hamilton Island, and Paradise Bay Resort on Long Island arranges private helicopter transfers from Hamilton Island for all guests to arrive in style!
Whitsunday Transit provides a daily bus service connecting Proserpine, Cannonvale, Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour throughout the day. Taxis and hire cars are also available. Avis, Hertz and Thrifty Car Rentals have car hire outlets in Airlie Beach, and local rental companies include Fun Rentals and We Do Scooters. Most tours offer courtesy pick up and drop offs from tourist accommodation.
The Whitsunday region enjoys a typically sub tropical climate all throughout the year, making it a perfect beach getaway. In the summer months of December to February, the average daily maximum temperature is 30°C. Like most neighbouring tropical regions, the highest levels of rainfall are during these summer months, however these tropical showers are generally brief and bring a welcome relief to hot stuffy days. During the winter months between June and August, Whitsundays records a maximum temperature of 25°C and a minimum of 18°C. Even during the coldest months the Whitsundays is a pleasant place to be. Water temperature ranges from 23°C in winter to 28°C in summer, so if you're thinking of escaping the winter chills, then this is the ideal escape.
Best time to visit
According to the locals, April to June is the best time to visit. The weather is generally clear and fine with less rainy days and lots of crisp, clear blue skies. Easter is popular with families and school holidays, meanwhile May and June is a particularly nice time for couples, honeymooners and special occasion groups. During June and July you may be lucky enough to catch a sighting of a humpback whale as they migrate north from their feeding grounds in Antartica to warmer waters. August brings some warm breezy weather -best time for sailing and watching the famous Hamilton Island Race Week. October to December is typically hot, sunny Australian weather, a popular time for families and fun. From January to March its not uncommon to have some rain showers, but usually post-christmas is a good time to visit for peace and quiet.
Marine stingers may be present in the waters of tropical Queensland year round, however November to May is termed as “high season” or “peak season” as they are more active and more numerous during this time of year. Marine stingers are jellyfish that are prevalent in the waters around the mainland, islands and have occasionally been found out on the reef. There are two main types of "stingers" - the Box Jellyfish and the Irukandji Jellyfish. Irukandji are a group of small jellyfish whose stings can cause serious illness in previously well humans. While caution is necessary, there have only ever been three recorded deaths from Irukandji stings and if prompt medical treatment is received, a full recovery usually occurs within 24 - 48 hours.
The less common Box Jellyfish are typically large, with substantial bodies and numerous tentacles on each corner. Their stings can cause death in previously well humans in as little as 3 minutes. Different species reach different sizes, ranging from approximately 10 - 30cm tall. By taking simple precautions to minimise risk you can safely and comfortably swim in all parts of the Whitsundays region, all year round. When taking part in any snorkelling, diving, or swimming activity with an accredited Whitsundays tour operator, protective "stinger suits" will be available at little or no cost.
Other Regional Areas:
Proserpine lies around 26 km inland from Airlie Beach on the Bruce Highway and provides the key infrastructure to service the surrounding areas of the Whitsundays, featuring a railway station, airport, high school, hospital and sugar mill. The town of Proserpine offers a taste of regional Queensland with a change of pace and scenery. History is evident in the art deco buildings from the 1920's and 30's that line the Main Street. Here you will find plenty of boutique shops to explore down the laneways, plus a range of homewares, fashion stores and the region's signature jewellery and homewares store. This laid back town offers cafe and pub style meals that are matched with country hospitality. The town is located along the banks of the Proserpine River and is home to the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in Queensland. A crocodile safari will allow you to encounter up to 200 estuarine crocodiles and a variety of wildlife including the migratory birds of the Goorganga wetlands and waterways.
Bowen is located just 45 minutes north of Airlie Beach. The climate is unusually dry for a tropical location, this is caused by a rain shadow effect produced by the nearby Gloucester Island. The dry climate plus fertile alluvial soil, make Bowen an ideal place to grow a wide variety of small crops, including tomatoes, rockmelons, capsicums and mangoes. Bowen mangoes are the most popular variety grown in the sub-tropical and tropical regions of Australia, making up 70 per cent of all trees planted. When heading north from Airlie Beach and Proserpine to Bowen, keep an eye out for the Big Mango, on the Bruce Highway just before you enter the town of Bowen. This is the site of the Bowen Information Centre. The Front Beach foreshore in Bowen has recently been redeveloped with fun family activities in mind. With some of the best fringing reefs of the Queensland coast lying just a few metres offshore, the area attracts snorkellers and divers keen to explore the colourful coral gardens.
Around an hour inland from Bowen is Collinsville, a quaint country town offering a warm welcome to all travellers. This coal mining town is rich in history. Attractions in Collinsville include the Coalface Experience at the United Mineworkers Club, historic murals throughout the town as well as various fishing and fossicking opportunities. The drive offers a perfect opportunity to spot wild emus, buffalo and camels. The Collinsville region also plays host to the Bowen River Rodeo and Camp Draft on the Queens Birthday weekend each June.