Sailing in the Whitsundays

Arriving off the night bus around 9am pretty tired, the three of us walked into town. We had to check in at the sailing company office and find the hostel Magnums which we booked for after our boat trip. There was only enough room to take a small bag onto the boat so we left out big rucksacks in the luggage storage in the hostel. This trip was an excursion included in our Oz Experience pass so although we knew we were going on a sailing trip, we weren’t sure of all the finer details.

We checked in for our 2 day/2 night excursion with Explore Whitsundays and found a place to eat – we managed to get some reasonably priced toasties and sat in the shade outside the bar before pottering round the shops. We made a quick trip to the pharmacy to pick up some more travel sickness tablets (Rhianna and I weren’t taking any chances) and also to the bottle shop to buy some goon, before walking across town to the port to board our boat.

The boat was called ‘Broomstick’ and was significantly smaller than expected…especially for the number of people going on the trip. We were told to find a bunk in one of the two cabins below. Rhianna and I ended up sharing a ‘double’ bunk which you couldn’t sit up in because the deck above got in the way. We weren’t expecting five-star luxury but I think it’s fair to say we weren’t expecting this either. Nonetheless we were in the beautiful Whitsundays so we were excited as we headed out to sea with the sun shining!

Unfortunately pesky cyclone Debbie had had the biggest impact on this part of Australia and you could really tell. There were boats wrecked in the marina, the trees on the side of the hill were bare, and as we later found out, the visibility in the water was nowhere near it’s usual level.

For fear of losing my camera/phone, I don’t have many photos to show from the Whitsundays. Thankfully Katie took a few too, including this one below of me looking happy as we were all about to demolish a huge plate of nachos – yummy.

Sailing away

Much of the experience was sailing about, taking in the views, sunbathing on the deck and getting in and out of the water to snorkel. As I mentioned before, Debbie had really affected the visibility so you couldn’t see as much as you would have been able to a few weeks prior. Having said that, at one point being in the middle of a huge shoal of pretty blue fish was amazing!

The one time we did get off the boat onto dry land for a few hours was to explore the beautiful Whitsunday Island:

It was glorious. We got dropped off on a beach on the other side and walked across the island up to a look out point. As you can see above, the sand was so fine and white it made incredible patterns in the sea. We walked down from the viewpoint to the beach, stinger suits in hand, and got straight into the sea – we had lots of fun jumping through the waves. It was really refreshing to have almost no concept of time and how long we’d been there. When we finally had had enough, we got out to dry off and explore the other end of the beach. Apparently there were sometimes baby sharks in a pool of water at the back of the beach, but we couldn’t see any despite wading in and trying to keep still for as long as we could. We found a really cool piece of driftwood (see photo above) that was probably a casualty of the cyclone and managed to scale it and look out to the islands – bliss.

Both evenings we chilled on the boat after buffet style dinners – one essentially a roast dinner without the gravy and the other a barbeque, chatting to others in the group drinking goon and playing music. We met two girls Sophie and Charlotte travelling together who were doing the same Oz Experience package as us, with almost the same schedule – they were even on Fraser Island the same time as us but we didn’t know it! We really got on with them so planned to meet up to go to Magnetic Island (our next stop) as we were going at the same time.

Although I had a great time sailing round the Whitsundays, when we docked into the harbour I was also happy to be back on dry land with plenty of shade! That evening there was supposed to be a ‘boat gathering’ with free drinks at a bar but seeing as it was Good Friday and therefore nowhere could serve alcohol, it was looking like no pubs/bars would be open. However, there was a charity event in one of the bars taking place to get around this law as you were allowed to sell alcohol provided it was with a meal. You paid an entry fee, ate a plate of food from the huge buffet they provided, got a stamp to say you had eaten and could therefore order drinks from the bar. Everyone from the whole town must have been there because it was packed! They also had live bands play throughout the night and so it was a really enjoyable evening. A great way to round off our sailing trip.

On our final day in Airlie Beach Katie was going off to do a sky dive – eeek! So as it was going to be a long day, we had breakfast, checked out of the hostel, put our bags into storage and dropped Katie off at the sky diving office. Rhianna and I felt like we were dropping our child off at school as we proudly waved her off. We spent our day hanging out in the hostel common area and wandering round the souvenir shops. I attempted to catch up on this blog and Rhianna on her vlog but the communal computers didn’t have any internet so there was only so much we could achieve. Nevertheless we managed to do some admin and spent more money than I was comfortable with ringing our hostel in Townsville for that night to arrange late-check in. Katie arrived back around 4pm and showed us all the fab photos and videos she got from the skydive – the views looked incredible I have to say.

We cooked ourselves some dinner and went for a quick walk along the beach front before heading back to the hostel for our bags and walking over to the bus stop to catch our evening Greyhound to Townsville.

Next stop, Magnetic Island!