Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Whitsundays and beyond...

The Whitsundays are tropical islands on the Great Barrier Reefs, and they are famous for being the location of 'The Best Job in the World'! (We are now officially in the tropics, having now travelled up past the Tropic of Capricorn.) After a day of happily lounging around in Airlie Beach, we set sail for two days around the Whitsundays aboard the Siska. Here she is:The first day we had beautiful sunshine, and it was especially magic once the wind picked up and the crew could turn off the engines and hoist up the sails (Stu and I helped with the hoisting) so that we powered with just the sound of the wind propelling us. Our first stop was Whithaven beach on Whitsunday island, which is one of the most famous beaches in the world (apparently) for its shifting white silica sands. It was beautiful, especially when we walked through the rainforest on the island up to the lookout over hill inlet:

We spent a happy few hours on this beautiful beach, although its 'stinger season', which means that we there are potentially deadly jellyfish in the water so we had to wear stinger suits when we got in the sea:In one bit of the shallows there were lots of big stingrays:
Then in the afternoon we went snorkelling, which was amazing! Within about two minutes I'd seen some of the most extravagantly colourful fish I've ever seen, as well as bright corals and giant clams everywhere. I'm something of a fish enthusiast (although I no longer squeak loudly through my snorkel from the excitement of it, as I gather I often did as a kid), and I won't bore everyone with a list of all the different species we saw, but I assure you there were LOADS of fish, from barracuda to metre-long wrasse, to bottom-dwelling leopard sharks and massive batfish!

The evening was a bit crowded on the boat, as there were about 22 people on the trip and not a lot of cabin space! (Stu and I had a 'cosy' double bunk with a leak above it...) But we met some very nice people on the trip, which made all the difference.

The second day the weather was completely different, and we were washed out the whole day! Spot the difference. Day One:

Day Two:

But we enjoyed the bracing winds and had some fun in our yellow sailor macs, shouting 'Land Ho!' through the mists. And in any case the second day was for snorkelling, so we spent a lot of it underwater anyway!

The next day we hit the road again, stopping at a weird old-fashioned town called Bowen, which boasts the Giant Mango by the roadside:It's mango season, so we picked some up and they are yummy!

Then after an overnight stay in Townsville, we pushed on to Mission Beach via some beautiful waterfalls. We stopped for a swim in Little Crystal Creek in Paluma National Park:

We also visited the Walluma Falls, which is the longest single drop waterfall in Australia.
It was breathtaking - the spray from the giant waterfall created its own clouds in the gorge below:
Now we are in Mission Beach, and we this morning we went to the scarily named Murdering Point winery, where we tried some exotic fruit wines (the passion fruit wine and mulberry port were our favourites). The wines are made from these fruits themselves, rather than from grapes with flavour added, and they were delicious. Tomorrow we're going white water rafting - woop woop!


  1. I can't believe how beautiful these places are, and the boating and snorkelling. Simply gorgeous. Hope you'll remember them all your lives. XXX