Book Cover


About Cruise Whitsundays.

Daydream Island,

Long Island.

Hamilton Island.

Whitehaven Beach.

Great Barrier Reef.

Reef Information

Nearing Hardy Reef

Snorkel Fever

On the Water

Viewing Platforms

Prepare to Dive

The Submersible


Submersible Views

Helicopter Flights

The Award Winner.

Homeward Bound.





















Our Home : The Whitsundays

A Brief History 1.

A Brief History 2.

The Gateway.

The Lagoon.


Whitsunday Market.

Shute Harbour.


Dingo Beach.

Cape Gloucester.


Cedar Creek.

Dent Island.

Hook Island.

South Molle Island.

Hayman Island.

Whitsunday Island.

Lindeman Island.

Annual Events.

About Cruise Whitsundays.

Cruise Whitsundays

is an exciting and innovative day cruise operator in the Whitsundays region, Queensland - Australia. Run by an experienced tourism team, Cruise Whitsundays provides an exciting selection of day cruise experiences and activities that really make the most of this incredible part of the world. The day cruises include the Great Barrier Reef Adventures day cruise, the Camira Sailing Adventure to Whitehaven Beach and Island Escape day cruises to Daydream Island Resort & Spa, and Long Island.

Where we are.

Cruise Whitsundays is based at Abel Point Marina, Airlie Beach. This gateway to the Whitsundays is located on a peninsula that stretches out to the Whitsunday passage and provides an ideal mainland base for an unforgettable Queensland holiday. At Cruise Whitsundays we focus on quality, safety and of course fun! With modern, state of the art vessels and facilities, rigorous staff training and customer focus, the company is setting new standards of excellence in the region. Welcome aboard and enjoy your trip.

Advanced Eco Certification.

Cruise Whitsundays is proud to announce that our Great Barrier Reef Adventures and Camira Sailing Adventure have recently acquired Advanced Eco Certification. Advanced Eco Certification is given to Australia's leading and most innovative ecotourism products, providing an opportunity to learn about the environment with an operator who is committed to achieving best practice when using resources wisely, contributing to the conservation of the environment and helping local communities.

Ferry Service : Daydream Island.

Early Days.

In the old days Daydream Island was known as West Molle. Back in 1930 Lee (Paddy) and Connie Murray a couple from Sydney set off to voyage round the world in their yacht Daydream. On arriving at The Whitsundays they fell in love with the area and susequently bought the island from it's owner and established the first tourist resort on the island. Ownership of the resort has transferred to a number of individuals or groups since the 1930s. Notable owners include Reg Ansett and Bernie Elsey, whose massive redevelopment of the island in 1967 was destroyed by Cyclone Ada three years later. The resort is currently owned by Vaughan Bullivant.

Tropical Flavour.

Everywhere you go on Daydream you are surrounded by swaying palms. On the West side of the island there is a coral beach called Sunlovers. Just wade out a few metres and you can see the various coloured tropical fish up close and personal.Try snorkelling and get a view of the coral that is close to the beach. The island has a real tropical flavour with a Tropical Pool stocked with fish , and live coral also collected from this area. Daily feeding of the sharks in the aquarium is a popular event. Day trippers visit this island from Abel Point and Shute Harbour, and a separate area set aside from the main resort is provided for their convenience.

A Favourite Island.

A local Jet Ski company also operates half day trips out to Daydream Island to view the tropical aquarium and beaches.The Island has plenty of activities for the energetic visitors including Tennis, Catamaran Sailing, Beach Volleyball, Mini Golf and Tennis. Mums will love the Kids Club for children aged 6 weeks to 12 years and Babysitting is also available. For diners there are 3 restaurants (a la carte, buffet and tavern style) and a bakery for fresh rolls etc. The resort has 3 lagoon style swimming pools and film goers will love the outdoor 44 ft.wide movie screen. A fantastic getaway for both honeymooners and families.

Ferry Service : Long Island.

Day Trips.

A favourite for the locals, Long Island's Happy Bay has a Northerly aspect which provides protection from the South East prevailing winds and can be quite hot in the summer months. Cruise Whitsundays service the island several times a day from Shute Harbour. The Beach Bar is the meeting point for those who just want to chill out.The pool is virtually on the beach and the drinks are ice cold. Parents bonus is the Kids Club. A beautiful beach, the occasional inquisitive wallaby, and the resident bird population including the noisy Stone Curlew.What more could you ask for a day out.


Adjacent to the resort is The Barefoot Lodge. Budget accommodation for backpackers with full use of the main resort facilities. Peppers Resort is at Palm Bay and is an ideal spot for honeymooners. The resort is looking for a new owner at this point in time. Visiting yachties need to contact the resort for guidance into the lagoon if they intend to stay. Children under 14 are not allowed. Paradise Bay Eco Resort is an exclusive resort on the southern side of Long Island, and only has helicopter access. This resort is in the process of changing ownership and remains closed.

What to Do.

The main resort has about 20 different activities including Mini golf, Beach volley ball, and water sports. The daily fish feeding always draws a crowd. There is a circuit bush walk around the island for the enthusiasts. You can arrange for reef trips and day tips to other islands in the area from the reception area when staying at the resort. The Eco Resort, when opened again is truly back to nature as there are no TV's on the island so if you have the opportunity to stay there in the future, take a good book to read.

Ferry Service : Hamilton Island.

The Yacht Club.

Hamilton Island Race Week had an extra attraction in 2010 in the form of the new magnificent Yacht Club. Entering the harbour on Hamilton Island immediately on the port side it stands in magnificent spleandour. The aquamarine copper sails stand out against a blue sky and the exterior lines are all furnished in stainless steel and plate glass. The Australian architect Walter Barda has good reason to be proud of his achievement.

Front Street.

From our vantage point we can see the whole length of Front Street that skirts the marina from The Buggy Hire to The Bakery and beyond. The Post Office, Trader Pete's Newsagency, and The Ice Cream Parlour are just a few of the many shops on this busy thoroughfare. The photo taken from the ferry shows the splendid Manta Ray Cafe on the waterfront and alongside on the left you can see the new Dent Island Ferry Terminal.

Final Boarding.

Fellow passengers from Hamilton Island are now boarding the ferry that will depart the marina at 8-45am. On our port side we can see the yacht 'Banjo Patterson' preparing to leave with a full complement of holiday makers on a day trip to Whitehaven Beach. The very vessel which so many years ago was the inspiration for Adventure Cruising in The Whitsundays today. Three blasts from the ferry's horn and we are away.

Day and Half Day Trips : Whitehaven Beach.

A Great Sail.

The ultimate sailing experience must be the Trip on Cruise Whitsundays 'Camira' to the magnificent Whitehaven Beach. Regarded as one of the Top Ten beaches on earth, the pure white silica of Whitehaven Beach stretches for over 7 kilometres along the shore of Whitsunday Island. Departure is from Abel Point Marina and you sail down The Whitsunday Passage, passing South Molle, Henning and Hamilton Islands, before negotiating the Fitzalan Passage and arriving at Whitehaven Beach at about 11-40am.

Delicious Lunch.

Remember to take sun glasses as it is virtually impossible to keep your eyes open with the glare of the silica. After spending an hour on the beach, quite long enough in the scorching heat, it was time to get back onboard Camira for lunch. The food was quite superb and the extra bonus of free wine, beer, soft drinks and tea and coffee goes down real well with the daytrippers.

A Great Day.

The afternoon sail took us up the eastern side of Hook Island and we stopped just offshore of the resort in Hook Passage where snorkelling was available for those wanting to partake. Altogether a very enjoyable day out on the water. Cruise Whitsundays also offer Half and Full Day Trips to Whitehave Beach by conventional ferry with lunch provisions on the beach with the Full Day Trip and a walk to the Hill Inlet Lookout for those bursting with energy..

Day Trip : The Great Barrier Reef.

The Reef Trip.

Every astronaut who enters space will at some stage on his return mention The Great Barrier Reef. This Wonder of the Modern World , protecting almost the entire length of Queensland's Coastline, is the only living organism that can be seen from Outer Space. The Marine Life is just breathtakingly colourful. A trip out to The Great Barrier Reef is an unforgettable experience that will remain with you for the rest of your life. This is a must when you visit us.

Snorkelling and Diving.

If you want to get up close and personal with marine life, snorkelling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef are available on one of the many day-trip excursions. Manta rays, moray eels, coral trout, giant rainbow fish and the Maori Wrass make snorkelling and diving enchanting. Or you can view the beauty of the reef from the comfort of a glass bottom boat or Mini Sub. Tours are available from Cruise Whitsundays Abel Point, Hamilton, Long amd Daydream Island.

The Reef Pontoon.

With Cruise Whitsundays in the afternoon the crew look after the youngsters so that mum and dad can have some time to themselves to go for a snorkel or just totally relax and enjoy the surroundings. A marine biologist accompanies the trip to relate details of different coral formations and the types of fish that are abundant in the area. There are helicopter trips available for visitors to catch the views from above and a trip to Heart Reef is also available

Reef Information.

The Expert.

Cruise Whitsundays endeavour to not only offer you the experience of a lifetime with a tour to Reefworld, but also an educational experience so we can share our passion for the protection and management of the Reef with our guests. Our onboard marine biologist gives a reef appreciation talk, a comprehensive geographical and historical commentary of the journey and surrounding islands and there are multilingual on board information brochures.

Leaving from Hamilton Island.

As we cruise at just over 30 knots towards our destination the informative talk has finished and our eyes are diverted to the views on either side of us. Both Hook and Whitsunday Islands are close as we head towards Hook Passage and the open sea. Whitsunday Cairn is a prominent feature at 386 metres above sea level on the Northern tip of Whitsunday Island as is Hook passage that disects the two islands just ahead.

The old Hook Island Observatory.

As we approach the Hook Passage we slow down appreciably to observe the etiquette of reducing the vessels wash as Hook Island Resort comes into view on our port side. The old underwater observatory is no longer in operation as there are insufficient funds for the safety restoration work that needs to be done to bring the operation up to the standards required for continuation. Border Island and Dumbell Islet are to starboard as we enter the open sea.

Nearing Hardy Reef.

Triangle Reef.

The first signs of nearing our destination came when the skipper announced the appearance of Triangle Reef on our starboard side. Close to low tide it was just possible to spot a few high points on the reef sticking out of the water. Reefworld is situated at Hardy Reef, approximately 40 nautical miles from the mainland and is the largest floating pontoon facility in Australia, with two pontoons measuring a total length of 86 metres.

Snorkel Preparation.

A member of the crew began to instruct those who had chosen to snorkel in the art of selecting and wearing the necessary equipment required for this activity. Several members of the crew were on different parts of the vessel providing their own personal comical interpretation of the instructions being issued, with the equipment that would be provided being given a most thorough workout, to the delight of their audience.

The Reef Platform.

We arrived at Hardy Reef just before 11-00am and the expanse of reef showing above the water was quite significant. Reefworld can proudly boast that the Hardy Reef has the largest number of colourful reef fish of any Whitsunday Great Barrier Reef operator, including our Queensland Groper 'George', who measures 3 metres in length, and our playful Maori Wrasse 'Wally' - plus thousands of other marine residents and stunning corals.

Snorkel Fever.

Flippers and Things.

After stepping from the vessel onto the Reef Platform it is a question of priorities. Some choose to select a comfortable seat on the top deck and relax for a while to take in the scenery while others wish to begin activities straight from the word go. Flippers and snorkels were stretched, squashed and manipulated in an effort to conform to the varied shapes of potential wearers, until finally a compromise was met for the fray.

The Suits.

Stinger suits in an array of startling pastel colours were displayed on the lower deck. Again it must be said that if I were a lone Irikanji having the audacity to trespass in the snorkelling exclusion zone, my first reaction to the colour fest would send me fleeing into deeper water beyond the reef. The splendidly coloured varieties of marine life would be entitled to a modicum of jealousy on meeting this gathering of humanity.

The Participants.

Our Japanese visitors were almost the first to go, but momentarily paused to hold some confidence building chatter between themselves in an effort not to be seen to be leading the way. First in was an elderly gentleman in a striking pink number who had the sufficient fortitude to ignore the gazes of spectators on the upper deck. Seconds later the water was alive with colour and the thrashing of arms and legs.

On the Water.

Safety Patrol.

Watching all snorkelling activities is a full time occupation while our visitors are at the reef and this is done by experienced staff from an observation tower on the reef platform and also from the water with a crew member in a runabout. The waterslide is in operation after the lunchtime period and this activity is always supervised by members of The Cruise Whitsundays crew to ensure the childrens' safety.

The River.

Inside Hardy Reef on a channel referred to as "the river", Reefworld is the best way to see everything the Great Barrier Reef has to offer. It is a healthy platform reef which allows for sheltered and protected snorkelling and swimming conditions all year round. Snorkelling is the first step that may entice you into your first dive on the reef. Take the plunge with your first dive and you will want to do it again and again.

Go it Alone or Accompanied.

All guests are provided with snorkelling equipment to explore the easy to follow snorkelling trails. Equipment includes hygienically sealed mouthpieces, as well as free stinger suits and wet suits, which allow for protection, warmth and buoyancy. Other bouyancy aids are available to assist those that need that extra reassurance. Guided snorkelling tours are also available on request.

Viewing Platforms.

The Top Deck.

The main viewing area for visitors visiting Hardy Reef is on the top deck of the reef platform itself. Wonderful 360 degree views enable you to see all of the above water activities. Watch the snorkellers swimming below, see the semi submersible taking visitors along the reef and observe the helicopter take off from the helipad a couple of hundred metres away. Low tide is even more interesting as you can follow the contours of the reef more clearly.

Underwater Viewing Chamber.

This viewing chamber is excellent for anyone wanting to watch a member of their family go swimming past on their first dive. It is also a great spot to take some shots of the fish that swim close to the Reef Pontoon. Older visitors who decline partaking in the more physical activities find this viewing chamber a popular venue to sit, and watch a constant stream of activity passing their vantage point.

Groper Viewing Station.

Always popular with the kids as they shout with excitement as another giant groper swims lazily by below. You may be lucky enough to see our Queensland Groper 'George', who measures 3 metres in length, and our playful Maori Wrasse 'Wally' as they swim majestically beneath the Reef Pontoon. A large graphic with a groper image and information on this particular reef dweller stands at the groper viewing station.

Prepare to Dive.

Introductory Dives.

Cruise Whitsundays experienced dive & snorkel team will show you the magic below the surface. All Cruise Whitsunday's dive staff are fully qualified and as an accredited PADI facility, Reefworld offers both Certified and Introductory diving at a permanently moored adventure platform on the Great Barrier Reef. Certain medical conditions may preclude a guest from Scuba diving unless a current Diving Medical Certificate can be produced.

Last Minute Adjustments.

Having already been given a 20 minute lecture on board en route to Reefworld, Novices are fitted with their equipment in the dive area and then taken to the 'Moon Pool', a suspended dive cage in waist deep water located underneath Reefworld, for a practice session. The Moon Pool is an ideal safe area for introductory divers to practice before your instructor leads you down the rope trail to a depth of 8-10 metres where your adventure begins.

Certified Dives.

Entry is via the Moon Pool and divers are given the opportunity to dive to a maximum depth of 16 metres. This allows the experienced diver to explore an underwater world teeming with exotic marine life. Come face to face with a turtle; watch the busy anemone fish (Nemo) bury himself in the protective tentacles of the swaying anemone, lion fish, cuttlefish, morays, barracudas, unicorn fish and possibly sight a reef shark patrolling his territory.

The Underwater Submersible.

Pre Lunch on the Sub.

Everyone is on board and we are off on the last trip before lunch to see the wonders of the reef first hand. There are many visitors who are either elderly or physically unable to take the opportunity to snorkel or dive The Great Barrier Reef, so this is a safe and comfortable option for them. The submersible slowly traverses the length of this part of the reef in both directions so that everyone on board gets a real close up view.

View For'ard.

Huddled up beneath the surface, cameras ready, we sit in anticipation of what we will see on our half hour visitation of a world that is far away from our natural habitat. We reach the coral wall and immediately we are transported to this magical underwater kingdom that lies over fourty nautical miles off the East Coast of Australia in The Coral Sea. Cameras begin to click as we make our way slowly forward.

View Aft.

The first observations in evidence are the great variety of types and shapes of the coral formations that exist in such a small area. Many colourful fish that seem to stay close to certain corals and the shoals of fish that tend to just swim back and forth in an endless stream in front of our gallery of glass. Suddenly we are all captivated by a turtle swimming into view. A truly amazing experience that we will never forget.


Lunch Onboard.

Cruise Whitsundays has its own catering team and the food prepared for our cruises is as fresh as can be. Using local produce wherever possible, Cruise Whitsundays pride themselves on delivering a selection of cuisine suitable for all palates. The daily selection includes cold meat, chicken, salad, breads, cakes, cheeses and unlimited tea and coffee. Don't stop til you get enough.

A Tasty Spread.

The first hour on the Great Barrier Reef brings us to twelve o'clock noon and Lunch is ready for the guests. All the activities are in progress and dining will continue through til two o'clock. We have not seen the Reef Submersible in action or the Aviation Helicopter so we will continue to explore after we have taken our fill of all the culinary delights on offer. Such a beautiful day and so thankful our vessel is fully air-conditioned.

Sated and Ready to Go.

Cruise Whitsundays provide a splendid lunch for their guests. Some decide to retire and digest their meal for a while on the top deck of the Reef Platform, while others are keen to immediately join in the activities that continue non stop for the duration of our visit. We stayed on board for a while just browsing through the photographs that we had taken on board the semi submersible before our lunchtime interval.

Submersible Views.

Our Turtle.

Swimming lazily by the side of the submersible with not a care in the world was our first marine turtle. To make it more enjoyable you really need take the trip twice. Once with the camera clicking and the next time to relax and just enjoy the view. I'm sure I missed lots by concentrating too much on the view finder. There will most certainly be a next time as this trip with Cruise Whitsundays has got me hooked.

Coral Formations.

An amazing array of diversity in coral formations is displayed during the trip and we have been informed by some of the divers that colours are much better seen when diving. For those of us unfortunates that are unable to dive, it is still a wonderful experience being up close and personal with the marine life that abound at Hardy Reef. We can relate to friends of the day we dived the reef, albeit by the Cruise Whitsundays submersible.

The Lone Blue Fish.

Every trip is different but you would always expect to see a plethora of soft and hard corals and hundreds of species of marine life - Sergeant Majors, Tusk Fish, Surgeon Fish and Fusiliers, Angel Fish, Pincushion Starfish, Feather Stars and an incredible range of Nudibranches and Flatworms. Our resident Maori Wrasse will demand your undivided attention and our giant Queensland Groper may even make an appearance. If you ask nicely!

Helicopter Flights.

Over the Platform.

On to the utility transport vessel and out to the Helipad a couple of hundred yards away takes a matter of minutes. The fear of flying disappears completely, as within seconds we are climbing high above the Reef Platform to encounter the most breath taking views we have ever seen. The area of Hardy Reef looks massive compared with the perception of size we see from the Reef Platform.

Heart Reef.

A short flight brings us to one of the most famous landmarks on The Great Barrier Reef. Always a favourite with honeymooners, Heart Reef as the name indicates is a coral bommie within the boundary of Hardy Reef that looks just like the shape of a heart. This coral formation is probably one of the most photographed on Queenslands' Great Barrier Reef, since it's discovery by air as late as 1975.

Magnificent Views.

The views from above are every bit as good as the underwater excursion we took about an hour previously in the submersible. All good things come to an end and so did this unforgetable trip that will remain in our memories forever. We enjoyed the commentary throughout our flight and commend the experience to anyone who is lucky enough to join Cruise Whitsundays on one of their trips to The Great Barrier Reef.

The Award Winner.

Reefsleep Experience.

Cruise Whitsundays offer the opportunity of an unforgettable overnight stay on the Great Barrier Reef with the exclusive Reefsleep Experience. Guests from all corners of the world have taken the once in a lifetime opportunity of enjoying the unique solitude, intimacy and tranquillity of the Great Barrier Reef over two days and one night. The only permanent structure marine accommodation available like this in Australia.

Viewing After Dark.

From the underwater viewing chamber (after dark is when the reef really comes alive) to the scenic viewing deck, guests are able to experience the peace and beauty of the Great Barrier Reef with only themselves and their personal Reefsleep host. All other day visitors to the Reefworld pontoon depart at 2.30pm and return at 10.30am the following day, so the time in between is exclusive to Reefsleep guests to savour in peace and tranquility.

The Facilities.

Established in 1996, Reefsleep was upgraded in 2005 and refurbished again in June 2008. A Reefsleep stay includes overnight accommodation, alfresco dinner including wine, full breakfast, buffet lunches, sunset beverages (beer, wine and champagne), two scuba dives or guided snorkelling safari, and use of Reefworld facilities including the underwater viewing chamber, semi-submersible, waterslide as well as optional extras such as heli-scenics and massage.

Homeward Bound.

Hamilton Island Guests Depart.

Thirty five minutes after passing through Hook Passage we are docking at Hamilton Island on the penultimate lap of our journey. Time to say goodbye to new made friends until the next time we meet. It's 4-40 pm and we will soon be leaving for our final destination at Shute Harbour. Island commuters are boarding a ferry in the adjacent marina berth as they will be leaving for Shute Harbour just ahead of us.

The Setting Sun.

As we exit Hamilton Island Marina and head north we see a large black cloud ahead of us and the setting sun's rays are shafting down to the ocean from the gloom. Dent and Plum Pudding Islands are now behind us and we are closing in on the northerly point of Long Island. We have about fifteen minutes travel time before we disembark. Last minute scurrying to gather up belongings and we are all ready to leave.

Shute Harbour in Darkness.

The crew line the gangway on both sides and bid a fond farewell to the guests as they trudge wearily up to either the car park, public transport or their accommodation transport that has been provided. One of the most rewarding experiences the Whitsundays has to offer is a day trip to The Great Barrier Reef with the staff and crew of Cruise Whitsundays.The sun has disappeared and the Shute Harbour Lookout is the location for a final photo of the harbour lights.

Our Home : The Whitsundays.

Beautiful one day Perfect the Next.

Bordered by the Great Barrier Reef in the calm waters of the Coral Sea, the 74 tropical islands of the Whitsundays lie midway along Australia's Queensland coast. Airlie Beach, on the Whitsunday Coast, is the vibrant hub of the region, and the gateway to the 74 islands - only eight of which are inhabited. The Whitsunday Coast region also spans from the beautiful beaches of Bowen in the north, to the inland township of Proserpine, to the golf greens of Laguna Quays in the south.

The Magical Whitsundays.

A visit to the Whitsundays offers something for everyone from a fun-filled, adventure-packed family holiday to a luxurious romantic escape for two. With so much natural beauty on our doorstep you can snorkel or scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, soak up the sun on Whitehaven Beach or sail around the Whitsunday Islands. You can choose to stay in one of the many beautiful island resorts or base yourself on the mainland and enjoy the fun & friendly atmosphere of Airlie Beach and surrounds with it's lively nightlife and delectable restaurants. The hardest part will be choosing how to fit it all in.

Beautiful one day Perfect the Next.

Bordered by the Great Barrier Reef in the calm waters of the Coral Sea, the 74 tropical islands of the Whitsundays lie midway along Australia's Queensland coast. Airlie Beach, on the Whitsunday Coast, is the vibrant hub of the region, and the gateway to the 74 islands - only eight of which are inhabited. The Whitsunday Coast region also spans from the beautiful beaches of Bowen in the north, to the inland township of Proserpine, to Lindeman Island in the south.

A Brief History 1.

The Ngaro People.

Mainland areas on the coastline and the neighbouring Whitsunday Islands are the traditional home of the Ngaro Aboriginal people. For at least the past 9000 years The Ngaro have occupied the area, as evidence has been revealed by middens and rock cave paintings throughout the islands. Cutting tools and stone axes have been found on a quarry at South Molle Island and cave paintings discovered at Nara Inlet on Hook Island.

Native Seafarers.

Discarded shells and bones on Hook Island have enabled archaelogists to estimate that the cave at Nara was used 2,500 years ago, much later than original finds. There are hundreds of sites much older throughout the islands. The Ngaro people were adept at making canoes and Cook in his journals recorded sighting natives in an Outrigger. Other seafarers had reported seeing natives canoeing from Double Cone Island to South Molle Island, a distance of 21 klms.

Naming The Whitsundays.

In 1770, Captain James Cook travelled up the Queensland coast on a scientific expedition on his barque the Endeavour, entering the Whitsundays on 1 June. Two days later he sailed around Cape Conway and saw a wide, deep stretch of water separating the mainland from a string of islands. As the 3rd of June was the day on which Christians celebrated the Festival of Whit Sunday that year, Cook named the passage 'Whitsunday's Passage'.

A Brief History 2.

Early Industry.

European settlement began on the Islands in the 1860's mainly in the form of camps that harvested hoop pine timber to construct buildings in Bowen. This industry operated for 40 years, and finally petered out in the 1930s. Also in the 1860s, settlers attempted to establish grazing operations on some islands, but these proved unsustainable. Over the next 35 years, grazing leases were granted over islands including Cid, Long, South Molle and Hamilton, but none thrived.

Development in Progress.

Settlers were granted grazing leases for the Islands in the 1880's while Airlie was still rain forest. In 1904 the The Abell family arrived in Airlie Beach to escape drought ridden areas of SE. Qld. During the next few years they were kept busy clearing ground in preparation for the development of market gardens and orchards. In 1917 settlers opened up a road to Proserpine to facilitate their ambitions to start a sugar cane farm. A year later the track was completed.

Tourism Begins.

Meanwhile the inhabitants of some of the islands had ideas of entertaining guests on their properties, this was achieved by inviting Proserpine locals to catch the mail boat which frequented the islands regularly. From those early beginnings we now have an enormous Tourism Industry. Today, descendants of the Ngaro people help the Dept. of Environment and Resources with the management and decision making of the national parks of the Whitsundays.

The Gateway.


Approaching Airlie Beach, The 'Gateway to The Whitsundays' by road, the visitor is met by breathtaking views over Abel Point Marina out to Pioneer Bay and Double Cone Island. Cruise Whitsundays is the passenger ferry company that operate from this location with frequent services to the Islands, and daily reef trips. A variety of day and day/night sailing operators are located here too.


Shute Harbour Road which is the main thoroughfare runs West to East through Airlie and out to the tiny village of Shute Harbour. The majority of Backpacker accommodations are situated in this area. There are two scooter hire companies, one with car hire as well, that are available to tourists. The area has regular public transport and the main taxi rank is on the ocean side directly opposite the clock tower. Photo looking East.


Whether you are staying in luxury accommodation high on the hill or in backpacker lodgings, the holiday atmosphere in town is infectious. The shopping area, restaurants and alfresco dining outlets are located on Shute Harbour Road and The Esplanade, all within a few minutes walk of your accommodation. The Whitsunday Sailing Club at the end of The Esplanade also has a good restaurant. Photo on right taken from the club carpark.

The Lagoon.

Safe Swimming.

The Lagoon is one of the most popular daytime spots at Airlie Beach all year round. There is a carpark, and coin slot barbeque facilities are available as well as modern toilet conveniences with showers and changing rooms. Situated close to the heart of the town and on the ocean front there are Lifeguards in attendance while the Lagoon remains open. After dark the Lagoon is closed to patrons for security reasons.

The Beaches.

The photo is of the beach at Airlie. The Esplanade overlooks this beach and at the Whitsunday Sailing Club end there are public conveniences on the foreshore. There are two other beaches in the vacinity. Shingley Beach is located just West of Abel Point Marina and Cannonvale Beach is further West on the Shute Harbour Road and approached via Beach Road.The waters are warm and tranquil and are all great spots for the family to hang out.

Warning Signs.

Unfortunately during our Summer Months it is not advisable to go into these waters without the protection of a stinger suit. The Irukandji Jellyfish frequents our waters during this period and as well as being highly venomous it's sting is excruciatingly painful. There are usually only the odd couple of victims a season and if you are aware of the dangers and heed the warnings, your holiday will pass without a hitch.



For the size of the town, Airlie has a huge variety of clothing and swimwear shops for the ladies to explore at their leisure, including several upmarket Boutiques for the trendsetters. Most of these can be found on Shute Harbour Road but there are a couple on The Esplanade. Shopping Centres in Cannonvale, just a short drive from Airlie, also have a variety of clothing outlets for the discerning purchaser. A short drive further afield we have the town of Proserpine.


Wherever you go to spend a holiday there is always the need for a purchase to remind one of the places you have visited. Lots of choices here too. Sending a postcard, or buying a gift for a family member, The Trading Post is one of the larger outlets for giftware in town, and of course many more can be found close by. The Whitsundays is a place that you will want to tell your friends about, and mementos of a wonderful experience are always treasured posessions.


For the weekly shopping expedition it is wise to take the trip into Cannonvale to the two major outlets. Coles at The Whitsunday Shopping Centre and Woolworth at Centro. Both outlets have a late night shopping night. For day to day shopping, Airlie Beach has two supermarkets, one of which, at this point in time is operating twenty four hours. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be bought at The Whitsunday Market that operates every Saturday Morning all year round.

Whitsunday Market.

Saturday Mornings

throughout the year The Whitsunday Rotary Club run the Whitsunday Market situated on the foreshore opposite The Esplanade. This is the opportunity for locals and tourists alike to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from several competing stalls at discount prices. There is also a refrigerated van that sells fresh seafood on site along with stalls that purvey homemade jams, pickles and cakes.


The market has a variety of stalls selling everything from fashion, shell jewellery, arts and crafts and all kinds of bric a brac. The kids love the candy floss and ice cream stalls, whilst parents can sit down and have a hamburger and tea or coffee in the shade. Quite often a local Tiger Moth owner performs aerobatics to the delight of the crowd, necks craning to watch the spectacle. Camel rides are also a children's favourite along Airlie Beach.


There is always live entertainment at the market. Most times the performers are professional but there are occasions when local school kids from their dancing and singing classes entertain the crowd, with the parents looking on with pride. Of course the local buskers add to the flavour with their renditions from the outer. The market also opens on the days when a cruise ship visits. Over a thousand passengers disembark to spend the day in Airlie on every visit.

Shute Harbour.

Ferry Terminus.

Shute Harbour is a small coastal hamlet whose main purpose is a port from where tourists use ferries and other crafts to venture out to the Whitsunday's and Great Barrier Reef. The town itself is also situated close to the largest coastal wildlife park in Queensland where bushwalkers can take some of the many walking trails to see rainforests and native animals, which live in the park. There are picnic grounds for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Coral Point Lodge

offers a quiet experience, somewhere where you can totally unwind, avoid the hustle and bustle of the tourist centres and get as close to nature as you desire. Every room overlooks the beautiful sheltered waters of Shute Harbour and out over the Whitsunday Islands. All rooms have been recently refurbished and have ensuite bathrooms, teas and coffee facilities or kitchenettes, air-conditioning and ceiling fans, not to mention spectacular views.

Walking Tracks.

Swamp Bay Track follows the creek at the foot of Mt Rooper. The creek only flows in the wet. The beach at Swamp Bay is covered in broken coral washed up by wave action. The views across Molle Passage are fantastic.
Coral Beach Track is contained within an Environmental Reserve that adjoins the National Park. From Coral Beach a 700mt walk to The Beak lookout provides more panoramic views of Whitsunday Passage.


Sugar Mill.

Proserpine is the Administrative Centre of The Whitsundays, and the hub of the town of 4,500 or so inhabitants is The Sugar Mill. Guided tours of the mill can be arranged at the Whitsunday Information Centre at 192 Main Street Proserpine.The railway station is on the main Brisbane to Cairns line. The Proserpine River flows 15 klms downstream into the ocean and is a great source for fishing and croc spotting in the area.

Crocodile Eco Tour.

Courtesy bus transfers are provide from Airlie Beach to Proserpine for this tour and a pleasant cruise on the river is highlighted by the presence of these prehistoric reptiles that inhabit these waters. Included in the days adventure is a wetlands wildlife tour by tractor drawn wagon and a stop to sample a traditional bushman's billy tea and damper. Throughout the tour the guides give informative commentary on all the aspects and a barbeque lunch is also provided.

Fish and Find Out.

Take a trip to Lake Proserpine, and try catching one of the enormous barramundi that live in these waters. Colin Slade will take you on a Faust Dam Fishing Charter for up to six hours and offer his expertise. Find out about the history of Proserpine at the local museum run by volunteers from the community and purchase a CD titled The Whitsunday Islands 1770 - 1990 by our neighbour Ray Blackwood. A wealth of info on the islands and coastline history.

Dingo Beach.


Dingo Beach is an out of the way spot that locals like to frequent at weekends. No traffic and no resorts in this neck of the woods. There are shady, safe playground facilities right next to the beach and barbeque facilities, toilets, showers and most importantly there is a swimming enclosure to ensure the safety of bathers in the summer months when the stingers are around. Snorkelling equipment can be hired to explore the fringing reefs from Dingo Beach Watersports.

Boat Hire.

Whether you're a novice boatie or you have your boat licence, Dingo Beach Watersports has something for everyone. All hire boats are fully surveyed and equipped with all necessary safety gear. They all take up to 4 passengers, and maps will be supplied to coincide with the area you will be using. They are simple and reliable outboards from 6hp to 25hp, vessels to suit your needs, so you get to enjoy your day without any worries.

The Hotel.

The Dingo Beach Hotel is a popular venue for day trippers. On weekends the chefs menu is available from 11-00am til 8-00pm on both days and there is live music from 6-00pm Saturday and 12-30pm Sunday evenings. Affordable accommodation is also available if so desired. Whitsunday Shuttle Service have a tour that takes in Cedar Creek Falls, The Proserpine Museum, Dingo Beach and finally The Eco Resort at Cape Gloucester for lunch.

Cape Gloucester.

Edgecumbe Bay.

Eco Jet Safari operates out of Cape Gloucester situated on the beautiful Edgecumbe Bay which is just a short drive from Airlie Beach. A half day safari takes in the magnificent bays, estuaries and all waterways that this area has to offer. Not to mention the superb beaches where you can experience snorkelling and swimming amongst the stunning scenery of this tropical playground, with the opportunity to see tropical fish, dolphins, manta rays, turtles, and dugongs.


There are two neighbouring resorts in the bay. Montes and the Eco Resort both have fabulous views out to the bay. Local boaties travel up from Airlie at weekends to relax and enjoy a few beers and a yarn. The Eco Resort can arrange boat hire for reasonable rates through Dingo Beach Watersports so you can explore or fish on the water. House guests may borrow a kayak to explore Passage Islet just 100 metres off the beach. Fishing charters are also available.


Both resorts cater for daytrippers at lunch time. At "The Oar" Bistro in The Eco Resort you can enjoy a panoramic view of the sea from every table. This makes it an ideal place for lunch, sunset or evening dining. Whether lunching on the delicious open steak sandwich, or dining on fresh seafood platter, you have every reason to leave happy and satisfied. Both are open daily and play host to house guests, drivers or yachting visitors.


Beaches and Mango's

Check out the Big Mango at the Bowen Info centre 4klms.south of the town and remember to pick up a map. The Big Mango represents the delicious fruit which carries the name sake of the town 'Bowen Mango'. The town boasts 7 of the most beautiful beaches found anywhere. Horshoe Bay is probably the most well known, Grays Beach the most picturesque, but Rose Bay is our favourite spot out of all of them.

Town Centre.

Mullers Lagoon, situated in the centre of the town, is a superb botanical garden and wetland habitat, home to about 176 species of bird life.Throughout the centre there are 25 historical murals that depict the diverse history of Bowen from early days to the present. Tourism Bowen hosts a guided walking tour featuring the Bowen murals every Wednesday morning and a more in depth look into Bowen's history can be retraced at the Bowen Historical Museum.


Play a round of golf and have lunch and enjoy an icy cold beer in the clubhouse restaurant or amble up to the lookout at Flagstaff Hill for the scenic views. Snorkle the magnificent fringing reefs that abound the area or take a fishing trip. Try windsurfing or sailing in the sparkling waters surrounding the town or just settle down and relax and listen to the birds singing in Mullers Lagoon. Staying in town or just on a day trip, Bowen has plenty to offer the visitor.

Cedar Creek.

The Falls.

On the way to Proserpine, turn left onto Conway Road and follow the signs to Cedar Creek Falls. The falls and the cool freshwater pool are spectacular in the wet season, and they are always worth a visit. Many people are not aware of the fact but you can walk around to the right side of Cedar Creek Falls and there is a little track. It goes all the way up to the top. When you get to the top, keep walking there is a natural rock pool up there.

The Beaches.

Conway Beach is only 15 minutes away from Cedar Creek and it's in a large tidal bay with a peaceful beachside community. BBQ facilities are available and it's an ideal place for a family picnic. Just a short distance from here is Wilson Beach that is even quieter, and an ideal place to try your luck at a spot of fishing, so throw out a line. A whole day can be spent in this gorgeous area of the Whitsundays and quite often you will be the only ones on the beach.

Tourist Park.

Conway Beach Tourist Park offers the best of both worlds, a peaceful stay in a quiet, friendly park with great facilities and a new pool with a shallow beach area for the kids, yet still so close to all that Airlie Beach has to offer. The Grey Nomads flock in during the winter months in droves to escape the colder climes of the Southern States. Most dogs are welcome at the park so you should be able to bring your pooch along too! Just check the conditions when booking.

Dent Island.

Hamilton to Dent.

Hamilton Island owners, the Oatley family, over a number of years have developed the Golf Course on Dent along with the new Clubhouse. You can catch a ferry to Dent Island from the new jetty next door to The Manta Ray Cafe. Just a short 15 min trip across Dent Passage brings you to a courier waiting at the jetty to whisk you by buggy up to the new Clubhouse. This is another great addition to The Hamilton Island experience.

Lunch at The Clubhouse.

Even non golfers will enjoy this short trip just for the chance to get away and enjoy a quiet lunch away from the hustle and bustle of Hamilton Island. I must comment on the excellent service that was afforded us on our visit to The Clubhouse. On arrival we were handed bowls of iced water and face towels to refresh us after the hot trip across the passage. The food was delicious and I recommend the experience to everyone staying on Hamilton Island.

Golf and Great Views.

On our trip we were lucky enough to be escorted on a buggy trip around the golf course by one of the staff members. For a local it was particularly interesting to get a different outlook of the area from a new perspective. From the 16th green we had a spectacular view out to Pentecost Island and beyond. Watching the air traffic landing and taking off on the adjacent island was another novelty. On a golfing note I would add that this is not an easy encounter.

Hook Island.

The Resort.

There are various levels of budget accommodation and camping facilities ranging from dorm style throught to ensuite rooms. Great spot for couples or families who want to get back to nature. The Cafe Bistro which overlooks the pool and Whitsunday passage is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All meals are substantial and inexpensive. The Barefoot Bar also opens from midday for in house guests and passing yacht crews and passengers alike.

Underwater Adventures.

Lots of spectacular fringe reef diving and snorkelling immediately offshore and all necessary equipment is provided and staff will let you know of the best spots to visit. There is The Reef Explorer a Semi-Submersible large enough to seat 52 passengers in comfort with informative commentary included in the tour. You can observe the magnificent hard and soft coral and wonderful array of tropical fish and marine life without getting wet.


When you check in just ask the receptionist for a map as there are bush walking trails for the energetic and other activities include kayaking, beach volley ball and beachside pool. Hook is the second largest Island in The Whitsundays and the island teems with all sorts of flora and fauna for the naturalist at heart. Contrary to out of date website reports, The Historical Observatory is no longer in operation and will not be in the forseeable future.

South Molle Island.

Budget Island.

South Molle is now known as Koala Adventure Island. Transformed as a destination for the youngsters, the entertainment is non stop every night with promotions and antics going on into the wee small hours. A different dress theme for every night and resident DJ's get the place rocking. Transport by 68ft. catamaran 'Pride of Airlie from Abel Point Marina. Trips to Whitehaven Beach and the Barrier Reef can be booked from the island reception.

Walking Trails.

The Ngaro Aboriginal Sea Trail takes you to Spion Cop and on to either the island's highest point Mount Jeffreys or turn off to the Sandy Bay campsite. Along the way you will see the 9,000 year old quarry where Aboriginals made tools for hunting etc. From Sandy Bay to the lookout at Spion Cop is just over 4 klms so there and back you are looking at about a 4 hour walk. Signs along the last 1.2km will guide you through the islands history of travel and trade.


There is a nine hole Golf Course, Tennis Courts, Fitness room, Basketball, Table tennis, Archery, Beach Volleyball and of course the water sports including Diving, Snorkelling, Fishing, Windsurfing, Paddle Skis and Catamarans. After a walking session of 4 hours followed by lunch and a game of golf it's not surprising that the island's entertainment is geared for the 18-24 year olds. Liz pictured right liked the island before the transformation. Oldies be warned.

Hayman Island.

Cruise to Hayman.

The Hayman resort is the only Australian resort to become a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Visitors Arriving at Hamilton Island are transferred first class by one of Hayman's Launches for the trip to the island. Complimentary drinks are served on the short cruise North and their luxurious holiday begins. The island is mountainous, covered in Eucalypt and Hooped Pines and the resort gardens are fastidiously maintained.

The Resort.

Hayman is the most northerley of the inhabited local group of islands and all guest accommodations afford views to the magnificent Whitsundays or the resorts tropical landscaped gardens. The staff play a very low profile and go about there business almost unnoticed unless their assistance is required. There are 5 first class restaurants that one can describe as varying in degrees of opulence and a pool bar that also serves a fine lunch.


Enjoy a trip on Reef Dancer the island's semi submersible vessel. This trip incorporates coral viewing and snorkelling among magnificent coral formations and tropical fish followed by champagne and refreshments. September is the start of the Game Fishing season and Black Marlin, Sailfish, Bluefin Tuna, Wahoo and Mahi Mahi all await the enthusiasts who flock to the area from all over the world. Hayman is a great place to stay.

Whitsunday Island.

Camping fees

There are at least half a dozen camping spots on Whitsunday Island. Before camping in a park, forest or similar reserve, you must obtain a camping permit and pay your camping fees. Camping fees are $5.00 per person per night or $20.00 per family per night. A family group is up to two adults and accompanying children under 18, up to a total of eight people. Children under five are free. School children on approved excursions are charged $2.75 each.

Booking number and Tags.

You will receive a booking number confirming that your camping permit has been booked and paid for. The ranger will use this number to confirm your stay at the camping area. You must write your booking number on a camping tag and display it at your campsite (on the tent or camping structure). You will be informed how to obtain camping tags - they are generally provided at the camping area or at a stipulated collection point.


These are the Campsites listed for Whitsunday Island on the Queensland Government website. Dugong Beach, Nari's Beach, Joe's Beach, Chance Bay, Whitehaven Beach, Peter's Bay and Whitsunday Island National Park. Secluded beaches, fringing coral reefs and distinctive hoop pines complete the spectacular island picture. Camp among dry rainforest, grasses or above dense coral rubble that makes up the shore.

Lindeman Island.

Blue Lagoon.

This report was prior to the sale and closure for renovations being carried out by the new owners at the present time. Views over the turquoise blue lagoon and white sand oasis are really stunning. A great all inclusive holiday for families, thats right, drinks are free, and resort activities are free, including use of the 9 hole Golf Course. The Mini Club and Juniors Club provide lots of activities for the kids while mum and dad quietly relax or take an afternoon nap. Baby sitting is available too.


There are numerous pursuits including Dinghy Sailing, Flying trapeze, Sea kayaks, Snorkelling, Tennis, and Windsurfing just to name a few. There are many beaches around the island and its quite common for dolphins to approach close to the shoreline to the delight of the guests. Find Golden Orchids growing in the mangroves or listen to the sounds of the birdlife of which there are over 90 species to be found on the island.

Walking Trails.

The resort only occupies a very small part of the island and the remainder is 700 hectares of World Heritage National Parkland. Explore some of the more remote parts of the island bushwalking trails, and if you take the time to walk to the top of Mount Oldfield you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the Whitsunday Islands. Take a walk to Butterfly Valley, or follow a path to one of the secluded beaches.

Annual Events.

Wintermoon Festival.

The Wintermoon Festival began in 1996 as a tiny local event with locals as entertainers and audience. Word has spread about the beautiful location, and family-friendly atmosphere. Entertainers, visitors and volunteers have been journeying from all over the country to entertain and participate. Wintermoon is on Labour Day weekend each year.

Airlie Beach Food and Wine Festival.

The restaurants of Airlie Beach join together for the Airlie Beach Food and Wine Festival. They aim to produce for you an evening celebrating the diversity of the regions fine food combined with an extensive range of Australian wines. Food stalls will offer you gourmet delights prepared by chefs from the finest restaurants in the area. Held in May.

Dent to Dunk.

Join in the excitement, adventure and fellowship of this signature race and rally of cruising and racing yachts retracing the course of the original race between Dent and Dunk Island held in 1909. As part of the rally you will explore the coastline between Airlie Beach and Cardwell in the company of other like minded people.

Proserpine Show Day.

The Proserpine Show is an annual event, which is held in June and has all the attractions of a country town show. Highlights include wood chopping, the parades, displays, and exhibitions. There are always plenty of food stalls and refreshments. Airlie Beach school kids have a welcome day off to attend the show.

Bowen Show Day.

In 1879 a small band of people were determined that Bowen was going to have a show. Today, it's still a small band of people with the same ambitions to ensure the show continues and make the 127th Bowen Show in 2010 one to remember. Bowen invites you to join us in celebrating this milestone event in our history.

Airlie Beach Race Week.

Attracting more than 100 racing boats, and swelling the population of the town considerably each year, Airlie Race Week is well known for being the precursor to The Audi Race week on Hamilton Island. Meridien Marinas sponsor the event and Abel Point Marina will be the centre for some interesting party activities.

Hamilton Island Race Week.

Bob Oatley has an addition to this years Audi Race Week in the form of a brand new $40M. Yacht Club that will be the centre of the land based action in this years event. Crews from around the world descend upon The Whitsundays for this important regatta in the yachting calendar. 'Wildf Oats' will be competing for the big prize again this year.

The Airlie Beach Festival of Sport.

This Triathlon attracts competitors of all abilities from around Australia and overseas. This event will be the last hit-out race for anyone competing in the Triathlon World Championships at the Gold Coast two weeks later.The Airlie Beach Festival of Sport is fun for everyone who can run, cycle, swim or hit a volleyball. September 4-5th this year.

Airlie Beach Fun Race.

Held in September soon after the Hamilton Island Race Week, this event is always popular with the locals as they are usually the main competitors. Dressing up in pirates garb and heading for the water is the order of the day. Lots of photographers at this event in anticipation of the figurehead competition held amongst the young ladies each year.

Whitsunday Reef Festival.

This is a four day festival consisting of live entertainment, Sand Sculpting competitions, Street Parade, Street Party, Frocktails fashion parade, movies at the Airlie Beach Lagoon and much more. The festival highlights the unique Whitsunday lifestyle, and is not only an opportunity to showcase the region but is also a celebration of the local community.

Bowen Cultural and Seafood Festival.

A great day at Bowen to try the seafood and all the various types of meat available such as Kangaroo, Crocodile Steaks, Emu and some bushtucker for the adventurous souls. Entertainment galore at The Soundshell with performances from indigenous bands and dancers. Lots for the kids and adults alike at this annual event.

Come Camp With BIG4.

Come Camp With BIG4 is a national event co-ordinated by BIG4 to encourage families to experience or rediscover the fun of a night spent in the Great Outdoors and under the stars by offering a free night on a powered or unpowered site. They organise a host of activities and it will be a weekend to remember!