We woke up early in Airlie Beach. It was grey and cloudy and raining slightly, as forecast. The wind from the south-east was expected to pick up too.
We checked in at the Port of Airlie for our boat trip out to the Whitsunday Islands. This is the wrong name. No, I don’t mean they should have been the WetMondays given today’s weather. The islands are named after the Whitsunday Passage, discovered by Captain Cook actually on Whit Monday, but as the International Dateline hadn’t yet been agreed, he didn’t realise. If the islands had been discovered on the 7th November, we might well have been visiting the Captain Cook’s Birthday Islands instead. This is the sort of train of thought that occurs when you rise too early and need a bit more sleep.
Coffee, muffin, toast all contributed to waking up, eventually.
The boat ride was quite pleasant, just a bit bumpy out in open water.
We had a brief stop at Daydream Island to pick up a couple of people.
We stopped at Hamilton Island too, but we knew we’d be returning here later on. It had stopped raining, but the sky was still grey, which is a shame. There are over 80 islands in this group and on a clear day, on this particular cruise, you could see over 20 of them.
I mentioned the toast, and on the next leg of the trip, we were given fruit, water melon, pineapple and honeydew melon as well as muffins. I guess they wanted us to sink were we to go swimming.
As we approached Whitsunday Island itself, the largest of the group, we could see the long white Whitehaven Beach from a long way out.
There are lovely photos of sand swirling around in the water, but this feature is at the northern end of the beach. We were going to anchor at the southern end. Liesel and I thought we’d walk the length of the beach, just to see the swirling sands. The captain announced that if guests wanted to walk the length of the beach to see the swirling sands, don’t even try, because it’s too far to walk and you’ll never get back in time for the return boat. So that was us telt.
We transferred to a small tender which took us to the beach. Liesel and I went for a walk along one of the trails, hoping for a good view.
Part of the Solway Circuit was closed for refurbishment, so we walked there and back on the same path. We enjoyed a few moments of solitude on the rocky summit before other people began to arrive.
Back on the beach, we made friends with a goanna or Australian monitor lizard. He was very friendly, apart from sticking his tongue out all the time, not fazed by people at all.
Liesel and I went for a walk along the silica sandy beach, exfoliating our heels as we went and in my case, acquiring a splinter in the sole of my foot. A recent storm has destroyed a lot of trees around here and there is a lot of dead wood on the beach.
It is a gorgeous beach, and we were pleased that only a small number of people are allowed here at a time. On a sunny day, we would be seeking out shade, but today was made for walking.
One of our fellow travellers was straight out of a perfume ad, Stenche de BlancHaven maybe, especially when the breeze picked up her floaty red dress.
The ride back to Hamilton Island was a bit exciting, the wash and the water on the windows distorting the view of the other islands.
Hamilton Island is one big, big resort, as far as we can see. The harbour, or marina, is really busy.
By now, the clouds were dispersing, some blue was recapturing the sky and we delighted in the short walk round to the Marina Tavern where we enjoyed the lunch that was included with the cruise ticket.
We went upstairs for a better view, and celebrated with a customer who won $165 for a $5 bet: this was the gaming area. The balcony was the smoking area: I’d forgotten there were such places.
Golf buggies are available for hire so you can drive yourself around the island. No, that’s too common for us, we wanted a utility vehicle.
The legitimate user of this vehicle asked if I wanted a ride. I said, no thanks, I’m married.
We did go for a quick ride on the free bus service, mainly because a big lunch followed by a big ice cream meant that we just wanted to sit for a bit.
The clouds returned, we were full and tired, so we caught an earlier return boat to Airlie Beach. The day started early, the day ended early, the universe is back in balance.