A Saturday Cruise Through The Whitsunday Islands
After strolling around Airlie Beach for a while and trying not to ogle all the
beautiful, young women who had descended on this town at the beginning of Easter
weekend, I walked into the Tourist Information
center on the main street. Just about every town in Australia and New Zealand has a Tourist
Information place, marked with a huge letter "i," and they're a great
source of information for what to do in that area. They also make bookings
for free, they have tons of brochures, and if you don't have an AA motel guide,
which is a
must-have for every visitor to Australia, they're a good place to compare motel
As you can imagine,
the Aussie group, The Little River Band, is pretty popular
here in Australia. I never saw the Little River, but I did
hear their music a lot on the radio. Here's Lady.
RealPlayer. If problems, see
of motel rates, this is towards the end of "The Wet" (i.e., the summer
monsoon season) here in northeastern Australia, so it's still the
off-season. One nice thing about visiting during the The Wet is that motels often have so-called
"stand-by" rates that are sometimes as much as 60% less than the
standard "book rate," the rate you'd pay if you made a reservation. You can get a nice motel room
on the northeastern coast at this time of year for about US$35 a night, instead
of paying over twice that during the peak season, which lasts from May through
done any scuba diving yet in the Great Barrier Reef, so I booked a scuba diving
trip the next morning. Unfortunately, when I got down to the dock the next
morning, I learned that the trip was cancelled, so I settled on an all-day
island-hopping trip through the beautiful Whitsundays. I've posted some
photos of my day-trip through the Whitsundays below. The Whitsunday
Islands are absolutely beautiful, and I'll definitely come back here the next time I visit Australia.
Above left: Shute Harbor is on the northern coast,
just a few miles from
Airlie Beach. I hopped on a boat here
for a day-tour of the Whitsunday Islands and got a glimpse into the lifestyles
of the Rich and Famous.
Above center: My first stop that day was on Long Island, the first of
three islands I visited.
Above right: The Club Croc resort on Long Island.
Above left: A palm tree. Duh.
Above center: Sailing on Happy Bay (yes, that's really its name) at the Club Croc resort.
Above right: After a few hours at Club Croc, I
headed over to South Molle Island, another resort in the Whitsunday Islands.
Here's the pier.
Above left: The 9-hole golf course on South Molle. Of the three
resorts I visited this day, South Molle was my favorite. For "only"
night, you too can stay here.
Above center: I kicked back here under a palm tree for an hour with
a cold drink...
hopped on another water taxi....
Above left: ...and headed over to Daydream Island. That's my
boat tied up to the dock.
Above center: The swimming pool at Daydream Island. Daydream
Island was pretty hoity-toity and stuffy, so I didn't linger here too long.
Above right: A tourist near Daydream Island died of jellyfish stings during the
previous week. Here's a stinger sign and a bottle of vinegar. Nope, I didn't go swimming.
Left: Beachfront rooms on Daydream. Time to head back to
Airlie Beach. I had a great day cruising through the Whitsunday Islands...
and all for only $20.
Bay and Fraser Island
I continued my
leisurely drive down the eastern
coast the next morning and late that afternoon pulled into Rockhampton, a
pleasant inland city with a population of 50,000, referred to by the locals as
"Rocky." After getting a room at the very nice Dreamtime Motel on the
outskirts of town, I headed into Rocky to get some groceries. I quickly learned,
though, that since this was Easter Sunday,
all the grocery stores were closed. In fact, just about everything was
closed in Rocky -- and just about everywhere else in Australia -- except motels
and gas stations. As the gas station attendant told me, things would
remain closed through Tuesday morning, so I stocked up on his "scrumptious"
selection of pretzels, Pepsi, and
beef jerky. It wasn't exactly gourmet food, but it was enough to tide me over for a few
day, I headed down the coast to the city of Hervey
Bay. The first thing you learn about Hervey Bay is that it's pronounced
"Harvey," like that 1950s Jimmy Stewart movie about the invisible
rabbit. The second thing you learn about Hervey Bay is that, for better or
worse -- mostly worse -- the city is a continuous strip of restaurants and
motels, reminiscent of so many bland American cities. During the past four
months, I guess I'd gotten spoiled by the pleasantly compact and pedestrian-friendly
layout of Australian and New Zealand cities. Hervey Bay was an
unpleasant reminder of what I could expect in a few weeks when I returned to the
reason I was in Hervey Bay, though, wasn't to see Hervey Bay. Instead, I
wanted to visit Fraser Island,
which is just offshore and about an hour-long ferry
ride away. I'd heard lots of good things about Fraser Island and it's a
very popular vacation destination. At 75 miles in length, Fraser is the
world's largest sand island and there are no roads on it. You absolutely
have to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get around Fraser Island, but if you don't
happen to have one,
you can rent one for about $50 a day or go on a 4WD bus day-trip tour, which is what I did.
every thing I'd heard about Fraser Island, I had really high hopes. Maybe it was
because it was Easter weekend and it was crowded, maybe it was because I was on a bus tour with 50
strangers... I don't know what it was, but I really wasn't that impressed with Fraser
Island. Frankly, there are lots of places in the U.S., like Cumberland
Island in Georgia, that are more interesting. Still, it's worth a visit if
you're heading down the coast.
Above left: Lawn bowling is big in the
Land of Oz. White attire required, of course.
Above center: Here's a typical 4WD truck in Australia. Note the
"roo bar" on the front end and the snorkel.
Above right: Hervey Bay is one of the few
American-style, strip development-type cities that I've seen in Australia... and
Above left: It's also the jumping-off point for Fraser Island, the
world's largest sand island. I took a day-tour over to Fraser to get a
taste of it.
Above center: Freshwater lake on Fraser Island.
Above right: Heading out to the beach on Fraser Island.
Above left: Cruising on the beach at 50 miles an hour. Nope,
Above center: You can walk upstream in this
freshwater creek and then float all the way
down to the beach.
Above right: A lagoon and beach on Fraser Island. Fraser Island is
like Cumberland Island in Georgia but larger and with lots of cars, and lots of
people. I thought it was just "o.k."
4, 2002 (Coffs Harbour, Australia)
28, 2002 (Airlie Beach, Australia)
25, 2002 (Port Douglas, Australia)
16, 2002 (Winton, Australia)
13, 2002 (Alice Springs, Australia)
11, 2002 (Ayers Rock, Australia)
8, 2002 (Coober Pedy, Australia)
5, 2002 (Port Augusta, Australia)
1, 2002 -- Part 2 (Robe, Australia)
1, 2002 -- Part 1 (Robe, Australia)
18, 2002 (Bega, Australia)
7, 2002 (Auckland, New Zealand)
2, 2002 -- Part 2 (Taupo, New Zealand)
2, 2002 -- Part 1 (Taupo, New Zealand)
25, 2002 (Hokitika, New Zealand)
20, 2002 (Geraldine, New Zealand)
16, 2002 (Te Anau, New Zealand)
12, 2002 -- Part 2 (Dunedin, New Zealand)
12, 2002 -- Part 1 (Dunedin, New Zealand)
1, 2002 -- Part 2 (Christchurch, New Zealand)
1, 2002 -- Part 1 (Christchurch, New Zealand)
24, 2001 (Wellington, New Zealand)
20, 2001 (Auckland, New Zealand)
16, 2001 (Auckland, New Zealand)
14, 2001 (Aitutaki, Cook Islands)
10, 2001 (Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
3, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bellingham, Washington)
3, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bellingham, Washington)
18, 2001 -- Part 3 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
18, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
18, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
6, 2001 (Fort Lincoln State Park, North Dakota)
30, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
30, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
September 15, 2001 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
30, 2001 (Webster, South Dakota)
18, 2001 (Watertown South Dakota)
17, 2001 (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)
14, 2001 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)
8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)
8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)
6, 2001 (Manlius, New York)
23, 2001 (Middleton, Massachusetts)
22, 2001 (Boston, Massachusetts)
20, 2001 (Pomfret, Connecticut)
18, 2001 (Denton, Maryland)
16, 2001 (Cumberland, Virginia)
14, 2001 (Roanoke, Virginia)
9, 2001 (Sevierville, Tennessee)
8, 2001 (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)
5, 2001 (Manchester, Tennessee)
30, 2001 (Hohenwald, Tennessee)
29, 2001 (Corinth, Mississippi)
27, 2001 (Natchez, Mississippi)
24, 2001 (Austin, Texas)
20, 2001 (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)
18, 2001 (Clay Canyon, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 2 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 1 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
14, 2001 (San Diego, California)
11, 2001 (San Jose, California)
2, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
19, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
30, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
19, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
5, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
* * * * * * *
Travels (2001-02) >
Australia Trip >
April 1, 2002