Had the weekend in Airlie Beach which was really nice. The place was really busy and full of backpackers and holiday makers. The town is quite compact with one main street along the sea front with a couple of marinas at either end. The main street has loads of restaurants, bars, a few night clubs, a lot of backpackers accommodation and tour companies selling sailing trips and boat trips to the islands and the barrier reef. A couple of the apartments we tried were full so we booked one through the tourist office which was in a great location just up the hill from the main street with amazing views of the bay, but the apartment wasn't the best we'd been in. Was a big two bedroom apartment with a huge balcony but the rooms were a bit tired and could do with a big of maintenance. Door handles falling off and curtain poles falling down, ha ha! We were also sharing the apartment with a couple of orange coloured Gecko's who would 'chirp' at each other during the night which was a bit weird at first!
The name Airlie Beach is a bit misleading as there is not really much of a beach to speak of. There is a couple of small beaches in town but you can't really use them for swimming during the summer because of the jellyfish! They do have a manmade lagoon just next to the beach where everyone goes to swim which was pretty cool. They've also got a load of free barbecues around the lagoon which you see all over Oz at parks and beaches which I think is a great idea.
We had a chilled out day on the Saturday and just had a wander round town, had a swim in the lagoon, had a bite to eat and a couple of drinks and listened to some live music which they had in a lot of the bars over the weekend. We bought a Didgeridoo which is going to be hand painted with our own custom design and them shipped back home to us. We both go a Didgeridoo lesson which was great fun but a lot harder to play than it looks!
We went out on a sailing trip on the Sunday on a big Catamaran sail boat round the Whitsunday Islands. Just our luck it was overcast and raining most of the day and the sea was pretty rough. There were a few people being sick on the boat and over the side!! We stopped off for a bit of snorkelling but there wasn't much to see as the water was a bit murky with all the rain. Was good to get off the boat for a while though! We stopped at Whitehaven beach for lunch which is the white sand paradise beach you see in all the brochures for the Whitsundays. It was a nice beach but unfortunately we had to wear stinger suits to go for a swim which was a bit of a pain, but better than being stung I suppose!! We did get a bit sunburnt as we never had any suncream on as it was pretty cloudy but will know better now as the sun is still really strong!
We had hoped to finish our trip to Cairns by road or train but as are quickly running out of days now we decided to book a flight to Cairns from Hamilton Island which takes just over an hour and will save us about 12 hours by road. We took the ferry from Airlie to Hamilton Island on Monday and booked a night in the Reef View hotel in the resort. Hamilton Island is privately owned and is one of the larger of the Whitsunday Islands. The Island has its own resort with different types of accommodation and some private properties and has its own yacht club, airport and a championship golf course which looks amazing. Would have been nice to have a bit more time to see more of the island as there's loads of stuff to do. Definitely another place on the list that we'll need to come back to!
We got a flight from the island today to Cairns which was good as we got a great view of the Whitsunday Islands and got a glimpse of the barrier reef as we were coming into Cairns. We're here for a couple of days and then fly out to Bali on Thursday to meet Rebecca which we are really looking forward to.