airlie beach & the whitsundays - Where's Byrne?

airlie beach & the whitsundays

10.05.2012 – 12.05.2012 Sunny 28°C

I’d not heard good things about Airlie Beach from other travellers but as we were going past it, thought we’d stop and have a look at the Whitsundays. Townsville to Airlie was about three hours and when we arrived, we chose Beaches Hostel as our place to stay. It didn’t begin well though with a moody bitch being arsey on reception, it tainted our stay before we’d stayed. At $19 a night, it was by far the cheapest of the choice along the main drag but the kitchen was pokey considering how many people were staying there, it was far too small although I never had to wait to use the kettle or toaster. The dorm was pretty skanky in general, bunks with foam mattresses that we had to make ourselves on the third floor down a dingy corridor. I suggested looking for somewhere else to stay to B before we’d even slept there, she agreed.

Next day we checked out and moved to Waterfront Backpackers just around the corner. $20 a night for a bed in the loft, a seventeen bed dorm, but had no bunks, just singles, three floors up. This was more like it. It was clean, the beds were comfy and we had our own plug sockets. Free Wi-Fi too, which was quick but had a tendency to drop a lot. Whilst there we spotted a day trip around the Whitsundays on Big Fury, a speedboat that sails to Whitehaven Beach for a bit of sunbathing, stops to snorkel part of the Great Barrier Reef and gives you lunch too, all for $100 each (£65). We booked it and booked our Greyhound Bus for midnight that night to Hervey Bay, A, to save on a nights digs and B, to not waste a full day travelling there.

Whitsundays Cruise on Big Fury. We were picked up in a minivan outside Domino’s Pizza and were taken to the Marina where Big Fury was waiting for us. We had the option to hire stinger suits for $7 for the snorkelling but declined as did thirty out of our thirty-five strong party. It took an hour to get out to the reef where we were going to snorkel, with not much to see on the way. It was cold too, the wind was freezing. Dean, our comical but experienced captain, lowered a small dingy into the water and set off to the reef to throw food in the sea to attract the fish. We followed in the sea, all flippered and snorkelled up and waited for the magic to happen. It did, an array of fish started swimming all around me eating the food. There were several different types of coral too but to be honest, it didn’t interest me, the fish were the star attractions. Some big, some small, all differently coloured. It was good but still didn’t live up to my best snorkelling experience in Palawan, The Philippines a few years earlier.

Back on the boat we burned to Whitehaven Beach, a pure white beach made of Silicon, hence why it’s so white. Apparently it cleans jewellery up a treat and Dean encouraged us to scrub any we had in it, it’s what jewellers use, he said.

The beach was nice, it was a little cloudy and rained a bit which wasn’t ideal but didn’t take anything away from the experience. Probably the best bit was lunch, feeding the huge lizards wandering around the camp and watching them fight for the food. Verdict: Worth a hundred bucks, it was good day out. Big Fury.

After getting back to our hostel, the kind woman behind reception let us have a shower each before us bus journey as we had booked the tour with them. I was going to have one anyway, I planned to sneak upstairs, following someone through the swipe door but this saved the hassle. Showered, changed and bags on back, we had six hours to kill before the Greyhound turned up. We were hungry so went for the all you can eat Chinese buffet next door to the hostel for $18.50 each. The food available was good but it had a poor selection, everything covered in batter, presumably to bulk you out. Time for the Greyhound…

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