Airlie Beach, QLD
Dec 8, 2006
|AIRLIE BEACH & THE WHITSUNDAYS - Saturday 2nd December to Tuesday 5th (Days 36-39)
Saturday 2nd December (Day 36)
We arrived at 8.00am at Glorias Cafe at Airlie Beach marina, the designated meeting point for our 3 day \ 2 night sailing trip around the Whitsundays. By 8.45am with no sign of any tour representative the 13 assembled passengers were becoming restless. What we didn't know at that time was that the skipper for our trip had failed to show and wouldn't be! An emergency replacement was still in bed when contacted at 8.30am. Not a promising start to the adventure!!! While waiting for the replacement skipper we were finally taken to the boat, the magnificient tall ship the 'Derwent Hunter', built in 1946 in Tasmania, a boat with much history that I won't go into here. It was off with the shoes before boarding (for the entire trip) and onto the beautiful wooden deck where we were shown to our tiny cabins and had the complicated toilet\shower facilities explained (not sure if it was a joke but we were told that the manual flush method could flood the boat if left on and sink it??). By this time the crew had assembled; Jason the skipper; Jenny his wife of one month and cook; Andy the deck monkey; and 15 year old deck hand trainee Jamie. We were assured that Jason was a very experienced skipper, indeed we found out that he had sailed all over the world for 12 years, and knew the Whitsundays like the back of his hand.
We left Airlie Beach and motored for the north of Hook Island. This gave us time to get to know our fellow passengers; Richard & Mary-50 something retired Brits; Joanna & Christian-20 something Swiss couple; Katie & Alex-18 year old German couple; Axel a 40 year old German with a fantastic English accent who had us laughing the entire journey; Claire a 25 year old Brit from a Herefordshire farm; Patricia a 30 year old Parisian; Natasha a late 20's Swiss; and Edith a 60+ Swiss woman who basically spent her time travelling around the world. So many Swiss???
We arrived at Luncheon Bay, Hook Island for lunch! Then on with the stinger suit and snorkelling gear, and dinghy transfer to the beach where we snorkelled out to the coral. Jenny persuaded Gill she just had to do it and very kindly snorkelled with her. The coral and sea life was amazing, better than I had experienced from Port Douglas. We then went to the next Bay, Manta Ray Bay, where again I got in the water straight from the boat amoungst a fish feeding frenzy (engineered by Andy), including a seriously huge Maori Wrasse called Elvis.
With the prevailing winds in our favour it was up with the sails and a long sunset sail to a bay of Border Island where we moored for the night. Although sheltered the sea was a bit rough and both Gill and myself decided to sleep on the deck for the night with a couple of the other passengers and crew. What an experience, falling asleep gazing at the stars trying not to watch the mast rocking backwards and forwards across the moon. Brilliant!!!
Sunday 3rd December (Day 37)
During the night the sea had calmed, although we did all wake up in the night due to a loud knocking and the skipper walking around the deck peering over the side. (It was the buoy hitting the boat). After breakfast we motored over to Whitsunday Island for a guided (by Andy) nature walk from Hill Inlet to Tongue Point for amazing views of the most photographed beach in Oz-Whitehaven Beach. We then went down to the beach for a couple of hours where I entered the water only to be confronted by three sharks!! (tiny ones). We then sailed to a deserted bay on Whitsunday where we transferred to the beach for a sunset game of cricket. (I spanked Jason the Aussie skip for a couple of 6's!). We anchored here for the night. Again Gill and myself stayed on deck, joined by more fellow passengers, only to be woken in the night again by the boat violently rocking from side to side despite the sea being completely, and I mean completely calm, it was like glass reflecting the moon! (undercurrents??)
Monday 4th December (Day 38)
Sadly our last day! Another early sail to another beatiful bay on Whitsunday for more great snorkelling. As the wind was almost non existent we took a long motor back to Airlie Beach. We did a close pass to a huge passenger ship on the way, where Andy & Jamie climbed to the top of the rigging (and it's very high!) for a bit of showing off to the waving ship passengers. We eventually arrived back to Airlie Beach at 3pm. A few of us met up in the evening for a free jug of beer (Tallships expense) at Beaches bar where we all said our sad farewells.
I didn't think the tour of Kakadu at the Top End could be bettered but for me this trip was easily the highlight of the trip so far. From the beautiful tall ship the 'Derwent Hunter', to the crew who were simply amazing, to our fellow 13 passengers this was an adventure that both Gill and myself won't forget. So if any of you are in this neck of the woods you MUST get aboard this boat for a brilliant experience.
Tuesday 5th December (Day 39)
A long 14 hour bus journey (Queenslands big!!) ever southwards to Hervey Bay where we arrived at 01.30!!