A 24 Hour Adventure in the Whitsundays

A 24 Hour Adventure in the Whitsundays

Everyone who goes to Australia, raves about the Whitsundays and with its crystal clear water, white sand beaches and incredible snorkelling it’s not hard to see why. They’ve got a point! I was lucky enough to visit the magnificent islands off Australia’s East Coast back in January 2011. I rocked up at Airlie Beach with my camera at the ready, ready to take it in. Here’s how I packed 24 hours full of sailing adventures in the stunningly beautiful Whitsundays.

AIRLIE BEACH

My arrival at Airlie Beach wasn’t the most relaxing affair. I wearily stumbled off a Greyhound Coach at 1:30am, threw my backpack over my shoulder and along with my mates, walked what felt like a thousand miles to our accommodation. It wasn’t actually a thousand miles….. in fact it was nowhere near but it was a long ol’ walk.

As we were travelling as a 5 for a couple of weeks, we found that it was cheaper to book an apartment rather than bunk up in a hostel room. We had booked with Reef Side Villa’s via Lastminute.com. Always check this option out if you’re travelling as a group. You could well end up getting a palace for the price of a bunk.

An apartment would be luxury compared to some places we had attempted to sleep on our travels. Cor would we have to work for it though. As we began trekking uphill, in the middle of the night, without a map, we kept reminding ourselves of the actual bed that would be waiting at the top. We made it though. Found our key (as reception was closed) and took to our beds.

It wasn’t until the morning, when the light was breaking through the blinds in my room, that I could take in where we were and how right we got our accomadation choice.

Airlie-Beach

Looking back on it now, It was like the Booking.com advert. Yes, we got this ‘booking right!’

For those of you who have stayed in an apartment or house sat after endless hostels, you’ll understand just how exciting it is to have your own bathroom, your own fridge, washing machine…. a garage! We had no car but we had a garage for crying out loud! That’s right, we were like pigs in shit. Once we had basked in the glory of our success and mentally ‘high-fived’ ourselves one too many times, we headed out and got ourselves down to Airlie Beach.

Airlie-Beach Airlie-Beach

There isn’t a great deal in Airlie Beach but it has what you need. Supermarkets, shops, restaurants, bars and nice parks and public pools. More to the point, Airlie Beach is a popular backpackers destination due to one thing: This is where you pick up your boat for a night, a week, or in our case, 24 hours of Whitsundays discovery.

Freight-Train

SETTING SAIL

You can find yourself all kinds of sailing trips here. Diving trips, island discovery charters, hands on sailing experiences and booze cruises. We opted for island discovery and hands on sailing experience. Our guide for the 24 hour voyage through the breathtaking Whitsundays would be Freight Train. This 1980’s German racing boat is small but that’s no bad thing. I hate boats that are crowded with people. This slept 18 and 3 crew. That’s plenty for me.

Freight-Train

Freight-Train Freight-Train

We booked our Whitsundays trip back in Sydney where I was joined by a few of my mates from the UK. They came out over Christmas for a month of adventure as we travelled up Australia’s East Coast. We had originally booked a different boat however due to damage it had suffered in a recent storm, we were moved onto Freight Train. This boat offered us the island discovery and snorkelling but sadly not the hands on sailing. Still, 2 out of 3 wasn’t bad. We made our way to the harbour, met our crew and fellow guests and were off out to sea…. and what a day for it!

Freight-Train

Freight-Train

DISCOVERING THE WHITSUNDAYS

We had only been out on the sea for half an hour but I could already see why the Whitsundays was such a popular destination for backpackers, adventure travellers and locals alike. In fact we hadn’t even raised the sails and I was already having an awesome time.

If blue wasn’t already your favourite colour, it will be as soon as you get out on these crystal clear waters.

Hook-Point

Airlie Beach was soon out of sight and we were surrounded by beautiful, lush, green islands. My feet dangling over the side of the boat, sun on my back, unruly travel hair blowing every which way in the breeze and a beer in hand… Oh yes, this was ticking all the boxes.

Whitsundays Sailing

GET SNORKELLING

Snorkelling in the Whitsundays is an absolute must! We’d been sailing for a few hours before anchoring at Hook Point (off Hook Island). We were advised by Captain Kev, ‘Right boys and girls, this is where I bring my groups. You won’t see another boat. We’ll be here 3 hours, here’s the snorkelling gear and theres the water.’ Captain Kev was a right character. Full of knowledge, funny stories and anecdotes. The sort of bloke you’d enjoy a beer with at your local boozer. All his was missing was a parrot and a peg leg.

On with the very fetching wetsuits (as it was box jellyfish season) and into the blue.

Freight-Train

Captain Kev was quite right, we didn’t see another boat but what we did see was shed loads of fish!

Snorkelling

Snorkelling

We snorkelled for a while before Captain Kev threw bread into the water and onto our heads. It was like a scene out of Piranha! Within seconds there were fish everywhere. At first small fish but then I heard the captain say, ‘Here comes Elvis.’ 

Elvis

If you’re wondering why the name Elvis? Then so am I but he was a big boy. Almost as big as another fish swimming among us…this one looked a little meaner.

SnorkellingThis was one of three snorkelling points we visited over the 24 hours. The others being Tongue Bay and Luncheon Point but this one, Hook Point, was by far the best for fish and coral, not to mention the most private.

Snorkelling

SLEEPING UNDER THE STARS

Our overnight at anchor would be just around the corner from Hook Point at Luncheon Bay. Our ship’s cook, Sissy rustled up some dinner as we sat up on deck, enjoying a beer or 3 as the sun set.

whitsundays sunrise

The night skies here are fantastic. The lack of light pollution makes star gazing a real treat. My mate had an app on his phone that you hold up to the skies and it tells you where and what the constellations are. If you’re a fan of astrology then download this before you go. It’s well worth it.

I took to my bunk for the night but I wasn’t comfortable. It was hot as hell below deck and the snorers were on top form. I took refuge back up on deck and slept under the stars. One pillow, a blanket and a billion stars. Yeah, this was much more like it.

WHAT A SUNRISE

As I chose to sleep on deck I had a front row seat for what must be one of the best sunrises I have ever witnessed. If you weren’t sold by the idea of the Whitsundays already, maybe this will help….

whitsundays sunrise sunrise-10

WHITEHAVEN BEACH

Whitehaven Beach would be our final stop off before setting sail back to Airlie Beach. Whitehaven is a popular attraction for many who visit the Whitsundays and it isn’t hard to tell why. As we raised anchor fairly soon after sunrise, we were luckily enough to be the first boat to reach Whitehaven. This is an uninhabited island with pristine white beaches that stretch for 7km.

Interesting Fact: The white sands are due to the high percentage of silica. 98% to be exact. The sand is unlike other types as it doesn’t retain heat so its quite cool to walk on. There you go, you learn something new everyday.
Whitehaven-BeachBeing the first to set foot on Whitehaven each day brings with it an unnerving and sometimes tretcherous task as you will also be the first to walk the path to the beach and lookout that day. This means whoever is leading up front will be the first to break the cobwebs that have been made overnight by the resident spiders….. and guess who was up front. Yep, I couldn’t believe my luck either.

SPIDERS, LIZARDS AND CRABS OH MY!

Having a pretty bad phobia of spiders made this walk unlike any other I had taken before. If you’re a fellow arachnophobe, you’ll understand exactly why I was bricking it in just a few seconds…
Spider

See! This was one of a number of spiders I came inch’s from whilst breaking through their thick, tangled webs. These big boys weren’t in fact boys but girls. Apparently the ladies are the big ones and the men are significantly smaller. Personally, at that point in time I couldn’t give a s**t if it was male, female or a transvestite. It was bloody massive and I wasn’t going to hang around to bid it ‘G’day’.

Spider

Other than the giant spiders, I came up close and personal with a monitor lizard. This wasn’t the first I had seen in Australia. There was a massive one outside my tent on Fraser Island but this one was shifting through the undergrowth, making a lot of hissing noises. Maybe he wasn’t an early morning fan? What a beauty though.

Monitor-Lizard

I did it. I made it to the lookout. My reward? Well check this view out.

Whitehaven Beach

I am so pleased I came to the lookout before heading down to the beach and would recommend you to do the same. It is here where you can really get your bearings and appreciate the vast beach, its pristine white sands and the beautiful turquiose waters that lap up onto the shore.

Being the first on Whitehaven this day and heading straight to the lookout also meant there wasn’t a sole to be seen on there beach. It was totally empty. Not a footprint or a dodgy tan line in sight.

Whitehaven Beach

After a little while I made my way down to the beach. At first it looked as if the sand was moving. Was it? It was! Well, sort of. It was in fact hundreds of soldier crabs moving in unison. As you make your way among the crabs, heading along the beach towards the sea, they scurry under the sand, burying themselves until you pass or until you stand still enough for them to think you have gone. Only then they’ll rise up and carry on. At first I worried about treading on them, or if they were to come up underneath my feet, but don’t worry, they’ll avoid you as they make their way to wherever it is they’re going.

Soldier-Crabs Soldier-Crab

I spent a couple of  hours walking along the shore and taking in the tranquility that was surrounding me. My friends and I took advantage of the photo opportunities. Some of which haven’t made it to this post…boys will be boys.

Whitehaven-Beach

Soon the beach began to fill up with the arrival of other guests from various boats who were beginning to anchor off the shore. This was our cue to leave. We made our way back to Freight Train and set sail back to Airlie Beach.

I urge you to add the Whitsundays to your ‘must see’ list if it isn’t there already. This was one of my favourite adventures in Australia along with Fraser Island self drive, trekking through Kings Canyon and my road trip along the Great Ocean Road.

The Whitsundays has the lot. Turquoise waters, pale white sands, endless snorkelling and diving, unspoilt starry skies and breathtaking sunrises…. Throw in a couple of giant, killer spiders and you’ve got yourself an adventure to be had by all.

Whitehaven Beach

  • Dannielle

    The Whitsundays were my ultimate bucket list thing and I’ll never forget the three days I spent sailing there. Your trip looks like great fun too!

    http://www.whileimyoungandskinny.com xx

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Isn’t it just one of the most beautiful places in the world?! I think it may well be permanently on my bucket list, would love to go back and explore all over again one day. 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment Dannielle! x