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Thursday, February 3, 2011

We Don't Want Your Money Honey We Want Your Love.!!!

G'day to all, just a quick update on how we are travelling in The Whitsundays.


We had a couple of very interesting houseguests in the last week here. Last Sunday we had Tropical Cyclone Anthony come to stay the night, brought baggage with him 120kmh winds and a little rain. He didn't stay too long and made way for our next big name visitor Tropical Cyclone Yasi

You can see Anthony on our coast then look east and you see Yasi, big bugger
Yasi was all Anthonys big brothers put together, one of the biggest Cyclones to hit Queenslands Coast ever. We were spared his full onslaught of Yasi in The Whitsundays, but different story further north.


Anthony moving inland and Yasi coming at us

We took the prudent step of evacuating our island resorts. Hamilton, Daydream, Hayman, and the rest were left with emergency staff only, 2 cyclones in a week make it hard and better safe than sorry and as a decision had to be made once we were seeing the scale of Yasi, no normal wind this one.


Yasi in full bore heading to Nth Qld


Two days after this we realised we were not going to be in the direct path but still playing with unknown quantities as this was one big system, comparisons to other Aussie cyclones showed this was the big one, there were comparisons to Hurricane Katrina but He was his own Man our Yasi, made his own rules.
Wind speeds of 300kmh spun around his massive eye and he had set his eyes on our brothers further north.


Hey Mum no hands lol

Tully, Mission Beach about 500kms north of us were his target and hit them head on. Bloody hard people up that way and they stood and fought for their land, they listened to advice and watched as TC Yasi pulled their houses, businesses and posessions out from under them, their roofs from above them and their hopes from beneath them.


Might look normal but check the surfers, we don't get surf in Airlie Beach do we??? Boat in background feeling the motion of the ocean.

We prayed for our mates up north while we copped some wind and rain equivalent to what we got from Anthony 3 nights before but from a system based 500kms away, absolutely amazing. Sitting here lost some windows but my thoughts were with them because if I was getting this here imagine what those poor buggers were copping.

We got in trouble for this Aussie wide Local kids playing in the surge over the breakwall. That is what I love about this place our kids aren't wrapped in cotton wool, they grow up to be tough and respect the forces Mother Nature has, but we have fun as well. This photo doesn't show my "boss" in the background kite surfing with his 12 year old hehe


It is funny now, Aussies are funny buggers we laugh at strange things.
TC  Anthony would have scared the crap out of most people we prepared and referred to this storm as a little bit of blow, we knew what was behind him, wasn't too much laughing about TC Yasi that was a worry.


Surfs up dude, in Airlie Beach what the??
dust the cobwebs off the boards lol
Bright notes.
No serious injuries or deaths due to Yasi (at time of writing) incredible considering the damage it caused. Credit to the people and their preparation and to the authorities who would be our guiding light.

3 babies born in the affected area the night Yassi arrived, 2 in Innisfail hospital in the direct line of Yasi. One was born in a school used as an evacuation centre, special thanks to the midwife, holidaying on her 26th wedding anniversary from The UK that did such a great job. Couldn't imagine how MUM felt in a packed evac centre 1000 people and bub wants to check out the scenery. And yes we do have a baby called Yasi.

Lots of stories coming out about what people did to survive.


A woman of strength and substance


Big wrap to our Commander and Chief premier of QLD Anna Bligh, this woman has had to endure more in a month than most political leaders do in their entire terms of office. She has had to deal with floods through regional South East Queensland that devestataed whole communities and took many lives and then hit her capital Brisbane to get the worst floods there in nearly 40 years and then Yasi. Through all of these events she has handled herself with dignity, compassion and shown extraordinary leadership. I am not into pollies but she is one tough bloody woman, the emotional strain on her must be incredible but she stands tall for her fellow Queenslanders, amazing stuff.


WE DON'T WANT YOUR MONEY HONEY WE WANT YOUR LOVE!!!!
Now this is where we are at. We are ready to rock and roll. Nth Qld is back up on it's feet and running, we don't want donations, we don't want sympathy, WE WANT YOU.

As most will know tourism is our lifeblood up here, and with our brothers in the agricultural side of things decimated (90% of Austarlias banana crop lost, sugar industry trashed) our income is zilch.
Most of us don't earn a motza anyway. we choose to be here becasue we love the place, we want you to come and see why.
Why we live in a place that throws such bloody big hurdles at us, the answer is easy, it is absolutely bloody beautiful, simple.
Come and see what I mean, see the sights, experience the natural wonders we have here, and meet the people that laconically refer to cat 2 cyclones as a bit of blow lol
Our people are our natural wonders as well, come and see why.
cheers bob

Just as a ps as I was writng this a young fella was found deceased, possible poisoning from generator bugger

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oprahs Whitsundays


We had a wonderful visitor to our region recently and she caused quite a stir. Oprah Winfrey and her massive entourage had a whirlwind tour of The Wonder Down Under and this blog will show you what she experienced in the number one Wonder Down Under The Magnificent Whitsundays.



Heart Reef
    Whitehaven Beach 
    Qualia Resort, Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef, The Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia
    Qualia Resort Hamilton Island
    .
    Qualia Resort, Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef, The Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia
    Qualia Resort Hamilton Island
    We are going to show you where she stayed and what she experienced and what she didn't. Oprah had 8 days to tour the whole country and she spent 2 here.
    Oprah chose Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island to base herself and had a ball experiencing the island life mixing well with the locals and guests and certainly played her part in the excitement. Even our native animals got into the act with the koalas deciding it was time to show their more amorous side in front of The Queen of Talkshow.
    Qualia is one of Australia's top resorts and the price tag reflects that, but the setting is quite unique and perfect in every way.
    Oprah could not afford a few things due to time constraints this is where you can make the most of this most special part of the world. You can afford what Oprah couldn't, more time to experience what The Whitsundays and The Great Barrier Reef have to offer. You can stay at Qualia Hamilton Island or any of the other 8 Whitsunday Island Resorts, or you can stay with me on the biggest island in The Whitsundays, mainland Australia and do everything Oprah did plus much, much more. Airlie Beach is the perfect base for island exploring and accommodation to suit everyone from Oprah to simple tastes as myself.
    Lets have a look at what Oprah saw on her visit to Australia and The Whitsundays in particular.
    Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef, The Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia
                                                
    Oprah experienced the two must do's while visiting the nicest place in Australia. Firstly was the Great Barrier Reef and Heart Reef in particular. A scenic flight over this very special and romantic place can be the highlight of your travels anywhere. If the scenic flight is done from the mainland or Hamilton island you get the added bonus of seeing those Magnificent Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach from the air as well and they are the only sights that can rival Heart Reef from the air in anyway.
    Do a private scenic flight in a chopper or go with a small group on a seaplane and snorkel in the middle of The Great Barrier Reef with a group of less than ten other passengers.
    Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef, The Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia
     Lie back on the sun deck and sip champagne and wonder what Oprah is doing aahhh, it is a hard life.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cruising The Whitsundays




Overnight cruises of The Whitsunday Islands. Liveaboards, extended cruises whatever you want to call them. I make no secret that I think this is the way the majority of our visitors should do it.
Unless you have a very young family or are very old at heart I think this is the way to make the most of the beautiful place I call home.


I don't know how many cruises are available but that word choice keeps popping up. If your tastes are high you can be accommodated. If your budget is low but you want to make it special I believe these cruises are great value. The Best thing about cruising is that you get everywhere you can on daytrips plus so much more.


Itineraries

Now this can be tricky as you can't really set itineraries due to tidal and weather constraints. In saying all of that 99% of cruises will visit the magnificent Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island with the vast majority taking you up the Hill Inlet to get the best sweeping views of the best beach in the world.. If they don't get there it will be because of the weather. In these situations if the skipper says it is too rough I go with that because what these guys call rough you may have different terms for and none would be printable in this blog.
The best snorkeling is generally around the north end of Hook Island and Hayman Island although it is not restricted to there. Border Island has some very good spots as well and plenty of options are available. Northerly breezes and tide may dictate when and where snorkeling takes place and I have seen days when the water is crystal, I have also seen it like pea soup. Being island based if you're diving or into the snorkeling try to pick the neap tides when minimal movement of water occurs and visibility is generally better.
Only a few cruises actually visit the outer Great Barrier Reef and most going to Bait Reef. Great spot for divers and snorkelers, better vis than the islands. The downside is the distance and time taken to get there. There is open water between the islands and the GBR and conditions can be a little bumpy with a good breeze. Many boats will not go to the outer reef if the wind is up over 15 - 20 knotts, they will opt to utilise the protected  water The Whitsundays are famous for.
So while the itinerary can vary the vast majority of cruisers get to see Whitehaven Beach and snorkel in some beautiful bays.




Dedicated Divers
Look I'll be honest. I believe if you are after a dedicted diving cruise that Cairns and Port Douglas offer much better value. They have dives included in their prices and visit some great spots. In The Whitsundays you will get to cruise amongst pristine islands surrounded by waters teeming with life with the opportunity to  get a few dives in a place that on its day can match anywhere in the world.


Boats
Now so many boats I can't mention them all. As I have said previously if I don't mention it that doesn't mean I don't like it, just too many. Because of this I'll try to break them up into categories that will make it easier.


Maxis These are generally the cheaper end of the spectrum but can offer the best sailing experience on the water. The maxis are generally old racing yachts that have had a makeover and offer up to 30 people a chance to experience The Whitsunday Islands in a fantastic way at a very reasonable price. The accommodation is basic multi share. These boats weren't originally designed to take people on pleasure cruises so creature comforts are not there. Basic bedding and meals with minimal privacy a Real Estate guru would call it open plan living. Popular with the younger brigade from around the world because it is a very affordable alternative and a very good time. Hammer, Boomerang, Broomstick, Condor and heaps more to choose from.



Budget Boats. There are a few more that aren't maxis but still offer great value. Big numbers on big boats. There are some that sleep, well sometimes sleep, on island resorts and they are a party cruise. It depends on what you want. They are a good option for the younger more social type of passenger that wants to have a great time in a great place. The Atlantic Clipper is a good choice as well as a few others and for those who want to party on dry land at night Koala Adventure cruises have options there.



Mid range in cost but good qulaity cruise are plentiful from here on. Smaller numbers with private accommodation are available at around the $500 p/p give or take a bit.
Price will be dictated by length of cruise so think about that as a factor in your final decision.
2 days/ 1 night   leave am, overnight cruising back pm the next day
2 days  2 nights  leave lunchish, 2 nights cruising return lunchish
3days   2nights   leave am, 2 nights cruising return pm
3days  3nights    leave late afternoon early eve, 3 nights cruising, returns lunchish
6days  6nights    Generally 2 3day/3night cruises with slight variation in itineray sometimes including outer GBR


Choice of boat then comes to you, if numbers are important then cost may be more, private cabins and ensuites will definitely add to cost. There are catamarans, cruises, powerboats and traditional vessels within or close to this price range.


Catamarans like Wings offer good value while Whitsunday Blue offers minmal numbers at an extra cost.


Traditonal Boats are great with SV Whitehaven being a great budget option up to boats like Alexander Stewart, Solway Lass, Derwent Hunter offering alternatives.


Silent Night, Ragamuffin 2, Eureka, Southern Cross and a few more offer a mono hull and good sailing in a little more style than the maxis.


GBR boats A few do try to get to the GBR whatever the weather, well within reason, Kiana is one of our more dive focussed cruises Anaconda 111 tries as well and Spank Me offers a budget alternative a couple more might slip in there.


To the upper end we have boats like Whitsunday Magic, Coral Trekker, Windjammer and I'll throw Descarada in there. The first 2 are 3day/3nighters that offer 6 days/ 6 nights as well. They do have the GBR in their itineraries once a week but only if conditions suit. Comfort is important. Traditional type vessels with good accommodation (remember you're on a boat) and very good menu. All very good cruises with a little more in price than the others. Descarada is a motor cruiser and a very nice one with minimal numbers and lots of toys including jetskis, it is one of your more expensive options with beatiful accommodatio, food and service.


Now this is my favorite of the lot. Pacific Sunrise will show you The Beautiful Whirtsundays in the best possible way. You have a choice of accommodation and tarrifs vary accordingly. The food is better and more plentiful than any mainland establishmant can provide and the experience is awesome. Your hosts are gracious and knowledgable and you'll have a bloody good time. The best way to see the best place in Australia. Similar itineray to Magic and the others and will not disappoint.


I suggest you contact someone with good knowledge of this option as the right boat will make all the difference to your Whitsunday Experience. You will get what you pay for here, don't skimp, you don't have to spend a fortune, but you want to make the most of it.
When getting quotes or trying to figure costings take into account that some companies still have added extra charges that can be sometimes quite large if not considered, other companies include these charges.


Who to contact, Libby or Bob, let us know what you're after from your holiday, when you're coming and we'll work together to find your best options. whitacc@bigpond.com

Monday, September 20, 2010

Airlie Beach



Airlie Beach

This is where I live. A great base for exploring the islands that lay just off to the east of us. As I've said Airlie is probably not a destination in it's own right, although it is a great little seaside village with some of the best views you will get anywhere, Airlie exists to provide you easy access to the islands and the treasures of the Great Barrier Reef.


How to make the most of Airlie

Ok this is where the choice thing comes into play. Their are choices in where to stay in Airlie and how to experience the islands. You can choose to stay in luxury or share a dorm in the social heart of Airlie. You can do any number of daytrips or see all the best places over a few days on an overnight cruise. And this is where the confusion starts, too many options.

-Stay in Airlie at the accommodation of your choice and do daytrips to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. Anyone can do this, there are plenty of trips to choose from.

-Base yourself in Airlie and experience an overnight sailing trip. This is my preferred option as you get to see the best place in Australia in the best possible way. All the cruises share similar itineraries as in visiting Whitehaven and snorkeling and diving in the best places. Your choice is the style of travel. A handful of cruises visit the outer GBR and for divers that may be a bonus.
This option is not the best choice for those with young families!!

-Do one or both of the above and throw in a couple of nights on an island resort to go with it.



Airlie Accommodation

Whatever standard of accommodation you desire you can find it at Airlie Beach. From great little backpacker hostels, beautifully kept caravan and camping grounds or top end apartments with stunning views. You can stay at a wonderful B&B or waterfront hotels at a much cheaper rate than anything on the island resorts. I'm going to mention a few favorites, but please don't think that if I don't mention it I don't like it, just a lot to choose from. If you have a particular accommodation house in mind that you'd like my opinion on, sweet, let me know.

-Backpaker Hostels. Bush Village, Backpackers By the Bay, Beaches and Airlie Waterfront are all very good and obviously the well established Magnums is good value centre of town.

-Caravan parks. There are some very good quality van and camping facilities. Adventure Whitsunday probably leads the way despite being a little out of town with Airlie Cove being a good option and Island Gateway being well positioned.

-Good Quality Value Accommodation. Love Sunlit Waters, great views with great value. Whitsunday On The Beach are well positioned as well as Airlie Court being main street behind KC's. The Whitsunday Terraces give great views at reasonable rates. In Cannonvale Club Croc does a good job with Brekkie included.

-B&B's Whitsunday Moorings has always been my favorite with Airlie Waterfront B&B being top notch and good value at Myaura and Island Views B&B. Airlie Organic has a good rep as well.

-More up Market. Golden Orchid drive has some good places with Pinnacles right up there Martinique, Toscana, and Mediterranean offering great views but beware the hill. Great cardio workout if you don't have a vehicle or make friends with a cabbie, Waters Edge at the bottom of the hill isn't a bad optiion to save the legs. Portside, Airlie Beach Hotel and Coral Seas Resort are well placed with position being the key for Coral Seas. Searene, The Summit, Seastar also offer great views.

Around Abel Point side some nice accommodation can be found at Shingley Beach Resort, Marina Shores and The Penninsula Apts.

Towards the southern end of town there is some fine accommodation but views may not be the best with the current construction work, I hesitate to recommend for now but good deals may be done and a lot of accommodation houses do have views over the top of the new marina construction site.  

Just make a note, at peak times of year, Christmas especially, a lot of accommodation houses implement a minimum successive nights stay, makes it hard for those wanting to cruise.         

Eating out

Plenty of choice again, that word keeps popping up. Great seafood at Fish D'vine and Sunday lunch at De Javu cannot be missed. Capers has good quality meals, KC's are good value with an Aussie theme and your Reef and Beef can be found at Shipwrecked Bar and Grill. Hogsbreath Tavern is in the middle of town
and Sushi, Indian Curry, Thai as well as good pub meals can be found. All the major fast food chains are represented bar KFC for now. Cafe's, Deli's and Juice shops are all here, you will not go without we even have some great icecream shops. Would love a Krispy Kreme though lol.



Daytrips.

Ok break these up into 2 main groups, Islands and Great Barrier Reef. We'll do the GBR first because it is easy.

GBR

2 choices for the outer reef daytrips from Airlie Beach. Fantasea which are a very well established Whitsunday Company will take you to their pontoon "Reefworld" at Hardy Reef.
Cruise Whitsundays have been here around 5 years and offer their pontoon at Knuckle Reef for their GBR experience. Both operators have pontoons with slippery dips woohoo as well as glass bottom boats and semi subs. Diving and snorkeling as well as scenic flights are all available. Both are good operators, pick a day with the less wind for this one. Similar in price.

Island daytrips.

These again can be broken up into 2 main categories. Resort islands or those without the resorts.
No second prizes for my favorite here. Get a daytrip that does Whitehaven Beach (make sure it does Hill Inlet) as well as snorkeling preferably at the north end of Hook Island in Mantaray or Luncheon Bay. Boats like Reefjet and Whitehaven Xpress as well as companies like Ocean Rafting do this very well. The bigger companies Fantasea and CW do this trip but Fantasea is a poor choice and while Camira with CW is a good day you don't get Hill Inlet and the snorkeling is very ordinary in front of Hook Island Resort.
For those less mobile Voyager can somtimes be a good choice with Daydream offering their Living Reef Lagoon as a great substitute for a snorkel.
A quick mention for Maxi Ragamuffin and Domino as 2 of the best island day sailing trips.
Cruise Whitsundays does various resort island hoppers while Fantasea services Hamilton Island if a resort visit is a must for you.

Scenic Flights.

Well these are my favourites. Air Whitsundays does a great flight out over the islands and the Great Barrier Reef showing you the beautiful Heart Reef. You can choose to land and spend a couple of hours snorkeling in relative privacy with a semi sub and sundeck ther for you and max 8 other people, yeah feels pretty special. Chopper flights in Robinson or Bell helicopters can be done, a little more expensive but unbelievable.

Other stuff you should consider.

Airlie Beach offers a great diversity in activities with Skydiving heading the list. great way to see the islands before they kick you out of the plane. Whitsunday Jetski Tours offers a great tour for the thrill seekers with an open water ride around the islands. Tiger Moth Aerobatic flights and of course all matters of water activites can be found here.



Overnight Cruises.

Again these could be broken into 2 categories. Skippered cruises and bareboat charters. Not being a huge fan of bareboats unless you are or have a good sailor or 2 among your group I generally recommend skippered cruises. I may touch on bareboats later in the blog I've heard some great things over the radio over the years and that may help explain my hesitation in recommending them.
OK I personally think this is the best way to experience The Whitsundays. You can spend up to 6 days exploring the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef and all the little nooks and crannies that they hide. Whether you are young or young at heart there is a cruise here to suit you. You can choose from a top line white boat or a traditional sail all the way to experiencing the power of a full blown maxi racing yacht.
Boats like Pacific Sunrise suit most with fine dining and great atmosphere in a very casual setting, Whitsunday Magic does the same. Descarada is a different experience being a motor cruiser with very low numbers. At the other end of the spectrum we have Atlantic Clipper which offers a great value cruise for the younger brigade that don't mind bigger numbers and a very social atmosphere. Maxis like Broomstick, Condor and Hammer offer a very good value alternative without the trimmings.
Dvivng can be catered for with some great spots for the experienced and less so.
A great way to see the best place in Australia. contact me and we'll see if we can't help you find the best option for you.