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A Road Trip Along Australia’s Eastern Coastline

2 Aug 2018

Travel up the pristine Pacific Coast Way from the Fraser Coast to the Whitsundays. Crystal coastline. Rugged reef. Idyllic islands. The Queensland Coastline Has It All.

Queensland Blog

A road trip along Australia’s eastern coastline is a rite of passage for many Aussie families, and international visitors alike. When it comes to coastlines, Queensland has it all. There’s nothing quite like driving up this sunny stretch, meandering between farmland, rainforests, quaint country towns and exquisite expanses of white sand and crystal blue waters.

The pristine piece of coastline from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach is just under 900km, but with a few stops in between, it makes the perfect week-long holiday (or longer if your travel calendar permits). With some of Queensland’s most spectacular scenery jam-packed into this little pocket, including one of the seven natural wonders of the world - the Great Barrier Reef - it’s well worth taking the time to drive, make that extra stop, and see what keeps people coming back to this iconic part of Australia.

WATCH: The highlights of our trip by road, boat and plane from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach.

Encompassing the beautiful Fraser Coast, Southern Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays, the drive from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach has enough sightseeing activities and bucket list Kodak moments to suit every travelling crew. Part of the popular Pacific Coast Way, the drive follows the Bruce Highway with only a few twists and turns here and there. It’s an easy route to follow, accessible for every type of travelling van, car and four-wheel-drive. With a collection of G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated parks dotted along this popular coastline, it’s even easier to find yourself a place to pitch your tent, halt your campervan or rest your head for the night. The hard part? Deciding where to stop and what to do when you get there.

Popular stops along the drive include Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Tannum Sands, Yeppoon, Mackay and Airlie Beach, but don’t forget the beaches off the beaten track like beautiful 1770, or those out to sea like the Keppel Islands and the Whitsunday Islands. After all, a big part of the beauty of this coastline can only be reached by hopping out your car and getting on board a boat or plane.

Starting in Hervey Bay, it’s well worth a stop-off in the town for at least a couple of days or a long weekend. Leave enough time for a trip to Fraser Island - the world’s largest sand island, and home to pristine Lake McKenzie, rainforests, 75 Mile Beach, a host of native flora and fauna and more.

From Hervey Bay, it’s a short hour’s drive to the iconic town of Bundaberg. Home to Bundy rum, the town is also situated close to Lady Elliott and Lady Musgrave islands, part of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, so you can sip and swim ‘till your heart’s content.

Travelling further north, you’ll pass a stack of natural wonders including Monduran State Forest, Warro National Park and Lake Monduran as you make your way inland. The change in landscape is remarkable here, seamlessly blending forests and rainforests to agricultural land and rugged coastline. Stop off at the historic town of 1770 where Captain James Cook first laid anchor in the sunshine state, before making your way to Tannum Sands. This idyllic coastal town is just half an hour south of Gladstone, perfect for water sports year-round with its safe, temperate swimming beaches.

Another hour up the Bruce Highway you’ll hit Rockhampton, or ‘Rockvegas’ as the locals like to call it. With a bustling strip packed with restaurants, shops and attractions, it’s a stark contrast of landscape from the countryside and coastal charm of the journey so far. If you’re lucky, you might be there during Beef Week. Renowned for its quality produce, come and celebrate in the beef capital of Australia. You can also visit nearby Mount Archer or Mount Morgan, once home to one of the richest gold mines in the world.

Just 35 minutes east towards the coast, you’ll discover the pretty seaside town of Yeppoon. With a host of waterfront restaurants and family-friendly activities, the coastal stop-off is also the land base for the stunning Keppel Bay Islands. Perhaps lesser-known than the popular Whitsundays further North, Great Keppel Island and its surrounding reef is well worth a boat journey out to explore.

Back on the road, you’ll meander through picture-perfect countryside with beautiful mountain ranges, vast farmland (this is avocado and mango heaven) and golden fields for days. You’ll eventually hit Mackay, or if you prefer to venture further north - Airlie Beach. The gateway to the dreamy Whitsundays, Airlie is home to its own beautiful collection of restaurants, beaches and attractions, not to mention the tropical rainforest that borders this entire stretch of coastline.

Where the forest meets the sea, this really is paradise, just waiting to be explored with four wheels and a sense of adventure. Get out there, get driving, get sandy and soak up this sunny piece of Aussie coast.

Fraser Island with Fraser Explorer Tours

If you’re new to the Fraser Coast, Hervey Bay is a beautiful place to start. Set up camp, kick back for a few days and explore. You’ll find it hard to peel yourself away from the 16km sandy stretch that graces this glorious piece of coastline. World renowned for whale watching and with some of the safest beaches in Queensland (no crocs), it’s a great family stop-off.

Fraser Explorer Tours

Butch, Fraser Explorer Tours.

If you’re lucky enough to have a couple of days here, Fraser Island (K’Gari) is a must. This World Heritage site is one of nature’s miracles. The world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island stretches 123km in length, and is around 800,000 years old. Home to one of the largest collections of freshwater lakes (outside Tasmania), it’s as surprising as it is beautiful. It’s also one of the only places where dense rainforest grows out of the sand.

The island is only accessible by boat from Hervey Bay, and once you’re there, you’ll need a four-wheel drive or specialised bus tour. Not sure where to start, or don’t have a 4WD? Hop on the dog and bone to Fraser Explorer Tours. With bus pick-up and drop-off from your G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated parks, ferry transfers to and from the island, and a 4WD bus tour to all the main attractions, it’s one of the best ways to see the island. The best part? The tour guides are a barrel o’ laughs. You’ll learn all about the history, flora and fauna of the island, all while strapped into this fun extreme four-wheel driving experience. It’s a hoot.

“We’re the largest off-road four-wheel-drive bus company in Australia and on the one-day experience we take you to Lake McKenzie, Central Station where Wangoolba Creek is nestled, the sub-tropical rainforest, 75 Mile Beach and Eli Creek, what’s left of the Maheno shipwreck and one of the many coloured sand formations - The Pinnacles,” tour guide Ian Butcher, ‘Butch’, says.

It’s a bumpy start to your trek in the island, but boy is it fun. It’s like a rollercoaster on sand, but you get to stop for ice cream and a dip. If you’ve never ridden a 4WD bus, this is the time to do it. Out the windows, you’ll see lush rainforests, birds, lizards, snakes, wallabies and even a dingo if you’re lucky.

Fraser Island Explore

First stop for the day - Lake McKenzie. This pristine freshwater lake is a crystal clear, vibrant blue paradise. This ‘perched’ lake is not only beautiful, but unique, made up of only rainwater and 100% pure silica sand. Local tip - polish your jewellery in the sand and it’ll come out looking good as new. A dip in this natural treasure really is a bucket list item, and with shallow, still waters it’s safe for the whole family, too.

75 Mile Beach is another highlight of the tour, buses and cars careering along this expansive stretch of coastline beside fishermen and beach-goers. The sheer space on this beach is remarkable. Coupled with the almost alien-like sand formations scattered along the foreshore as well as Eli Creek, a freshwater creek that springs out almost into the ocean, you’ll never want to leave. If you’ve got little ones, take a floaty on the island with you and let them float down the shallow stream - it’s a family must-do on the island.

Did we mention you can take an aerial flight off the sand, too? One of two places in the world where planes take off from the beach. 

“The uniqueness, the characteristics and the diversity of the island is probably the most stunning thing about Fraser Island,” Butch says.

Weather worry-warts, rest easy. While outdoor experiences tend to be largely weather dependent, Butch says Fraser Island doesn’t discriminate. “We take experiences every day...the weather changes but some of the experiences we visit are amazing bathed in rain, too. The rainforest looks amazing as the mist makes its way through.”

Fraser Explorer Tours offer a range of tours from two days to one day, with premium options available, too. Tours start at $190 per person. Book your experience here: www.fraserexplorertours.com.au

Nearest G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated parks:

Discovery Parks - Boat Harbour Drive, Hervey Bay

Discovery Parks - Fraser Street, Hervey Bay

Fraser Coast Top Tourist Park

WATCH: Frantic 4x4, the stunning Lake McKenzie and a shipwreck.

 

Bundaberg Rum Distillery

Rum tastings? Yes, please. The Bundaberg Rum Distillery offers a range of tours and tasting options in their newly refurbished distillery and museum hub.

Bundaberg Distillery

Bunbaberg Distillery. 

Built in 1888, the iconic site has been producing rum for over 130 years. It’s no wonder people come from all corners of the globe to taste a nip from the source. You can peruse the museum and shop or book a distillery tour, where the crew take you behind the scenes to the original wooden molasses vats and distillation tanks.

The molasses still comes from nearby fields. “To make Bundaberg Rum, it’s the ingredients that are most important,” says corporate relations director Paula ‘Mack’ McKenzie. “It’s important that the soil the sugar cane grows in is rich organic soil. We only harvest the sugar cane from the local area.”

For rum lovers, you can’t go past the distillery’s latest offering - the Blend Your Own Rum experience, where you can try your hand at sampling, sniffing and mixing together your favourite Bundaberg Rum blends to make your own unique concoction. It’s like a science experiment, but with a delicious finish. At the end, take home two bottles of your own blend, personally named and batch numbered, as part of Bundaberg’s rum records. Fancy!

“We’ll help you craft a drop that’s unique to you, because you know the flavours that you like,” Mack says. “We go through the journey of rums like a spice rack and blend what you like. You get to walk away as a master distiller and we keep your blend recipe on file.” Psst! We heard even Prince Charles is a fan, blending himself his own royal rum.

Museum tours start at $9.50/child and $19/adult (online prices only), and the Blend Your Own Rum experience begins at $237/adult (online price). Book your tour today here: www.bundabergrum.com.au

Nearest G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated park:

Glenlodge Caravan Village

WATCH: The Bundaberg Distillery

 

Boyne Tannum Hookup

If you’re a fan of dropping a line, the Boyne Tannum Hookup is a must-visit on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Held on Boyne Island, near Tannum Sands, it’s the country’s largest family fishing competition, running for over 23 years.

Boyne Tannum Hookup

Boyne Tannum Hookup.

The three-day festival celebrates fishing in every capacity, from competitions rewarding the biggest catch of the day, to environmental awareness and sustainable fishing.

With over 3,000 entrants in the fishing competition each year, eager fishermen and women come from all over the country to compete in the . $250,000 prize pool. 

If you’re visiting, the atmosphere of this family-friendly festival is electric - well worth a stop.

“The event is fantastic for families and the community, and the sheer size of the event and the attractions on offer are amazing,” says Rob Paxevanos, host of Fishing Australia. “You could be entertained here all day long - the kids and the parents. There’s so much to learn, there’s music so dad and mum can have a bit of time out to listen to a band, there’s boats to look at, tackle, and educational things about the environment.”

If you fancy yourself a bit of an angler, this is the spot to cast your line. Drop anchor in Tannum Sands for a few days to enjoy the festival, and head out to sea in your spare time. “The fish I’ve seen here have been amazing,” Rob says. “This area is a sleeping giant...You’re a half day trip from Brissy and the Sunny Coast, and it’s the first good stop for really good barramundi fishing. When the weather’s good, you can get out to the reef and the islands out there and there’s spectacular fishing out here.”

The next HookUp will be Friday 3 to Sunday 5 May, 2019. 
www.boynetannumhookup.com.au

Nearest G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated park:

Discovery Parks - Tannum Sands

WATCH: The Boyne Tannum Hookup


The Waterline
Restaurant, Yeppoon

The coastal town of Yeppoon is not only blessed with beautiful seaside vistas and a smorgasbord of nearby reef and island activities, it’s also home to some spectacular dining experiences, including the Waterline Restaurant. This is one for the fridge notepad folks. After all, every true traveller gets a rumbly tum.

Waterline Restaurant

With much of Australia’s award-winning beef reared in these parts, it’s no wonder many of the restaurants focus on all things steak, rump and t-bone on their menus.

The Waterline is no exception. Nestled in the picturesque Keppel Bay Marina on the Capricorn Coast, the restaurant was opened first as a kiosk in 1996. The restaurant’s owners - the Wilson family - are a true-blue Aussie farming bunch. “My great-great-grandfather started on Raglan Station [which is near Banana] in 1854. So, I’m fifth generation,” says Kylie Smith, general manager of The Waterline. Kylie’s parents, Richard and Libbie Wilson purchased the renowned Banana Station nearby in 1959 and were also the original developers of Keppel Bay Marina itself, the family a major influence in the development of this coastal community.

Come for the history and stay for the beef - the dishes here at The Waterline are the stuff of foodie dreams (beef tataki anyone?). They’ve recently snapped up Best Beef Signature Dish and Best Low and 

Slow Beef Dish, as well as being Highly Commended for their steak in the 2018 Beef Australia awards

“It’s the third year in a row we’ve won best signature dish,” Kylie says.

Kylie’s husband, executive chef Matt Smith has developed a menu around the family’s beef, as well as incorporating local seafood and veggies. It’s plate-licking good. “Here at The Waterline we offer something a little bit different, with a fusion of French and Asian flavours, utilising our local produce and our own Banana Station Beef,” he says. “Everything is made by hand, from scratch, so the end result is prepared by these two hands before it lands on your plate.”

Head out to the marina, watch the boats to-and-fro and sample some of the local seafood and beef off this paddock-to-plate menu. Parents - fret not. There’s a special kids menu for littlies, too, and the staff here are a dream, which means everyone at the table leaves a happy camper.

Book your delicious experience here >> www.thewaterline.com.au

Nearest G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated park:

Discovery Parks - Coolwaters, Yeppoon

WATCH: The Waterline Restaurant, Yeppoon

 

Rockhampton - The Beef Capital

You can almost hear the cattle mooing as you make your way into Rockhampton. Renowned for its beef production, ‘Rockvegas’ is home to a large portion of Queensland’s livestock industry.

Rockhampton Cow Statue

You’ll know you’ve arrived in town as you begin your journey along the famous Rocky ‘strip’ - a two-lane highway that stretches through the city, dotted with cow statues. Hot tip: get the kids to count the cows as you make your way through.

The beef industry here is passionate, and the culture is electric, particularly when the time rolls around for Beef Week. Held only once every three years, the festival is well known on the international cattle calendar. Farmers, industry experts, buyers and beef-lovers alike come from far and wide to buy, trade and experience the festival in Rockhampton. Despite the festival being big business for those in the know, the atmosphere in the town is infectious, so don’t be afraid to get involved.

“There’s a huge contingency of celebrity chefs there, as well as restaurants and entertainment, too,” says Kylie Smith, general manager of The Waterline Restaurant. Kylie’s family own renowned Banana Station, which participates in the festival each year. The week-long festival also hosts educational seminars, a trade fair and kids activities. But if you missed the 2018 festival just gone, there’s plenty of beef action to get involved in before the next event in 2021.

The next Beef Week will be held May 2 to 8, 2021. For more information, visit the website. 
www.beefaustralia.com.au

Nearest G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated park:

Discovery Parks – Rockhampton


Great Keppel Island
with Freedom Fast Cats

Just off the coast of Yeppoon, a half-hour drive from Rockhampton, is a collection of islands we’re sure only existed in dreams or on postcards. One of the best kept secrets of the Capricorn Coast, the Keppel Islands (known as The Keppels) are like the forgotten siblings of the Whitsundays - a pristine collection of islands less-visited than their northern counterparts, and almost untouched by man.

Freedom Fast Cats

Skipper Michael 'Mick' Ford, Freedom Fast Cats.

The two largest islands that form The Keppels are Great Keppel Island and North Keppel, with a staggering 15 smaller islands dotted around this stunning patch of ocean. Just 30 minutes from Rosslyn Bay/Keppel Bay Marina, Great Keppel is easy to reach by boat, but the best way to see the island is to book a tour. With all the know-how, gear, and years of experience on this piece of the reef, Freedom Fast Cats are just the ticket.

While the word ‘tour’ can make the most organised of travelers shudder, the cruises by this passionate crew are like a day out with friends. The minute you set foot aboard the vessel, the team become your best mates. Trust us, you might end up eating pizza shapes in wetsuits on the ship deck with them on the way home, having a yarn about the best day ever.

These guys are as passionate about this stretch of coast as they are about sharing it with others. It’s why they do what they do. “I love my job...this is the best place in the world,” says Michael ‘Mick’ Ford, skipper and tour guide for Freedom Fast Cats.

Depending on which tour you choose, you can see nature at its best by browsing beautiful pockets of the Great Barrier Reef through a glass bottom boat, or get up close and personal with the thousands of coral species and abundant sea life with nothing but a mask and a snorkel. It’s a bucket-list item for many Aussies and international visitors alike. Being just an arms-length from one of nature’s great wonders - the rainbow of coral that makes up this reef - is an experience you’ll never forget. Tears (of the joyous variety) are common on the boat ride back, so the crew tell us.

Great Keppel IslandGreat Keppel Island.

The Adventure Tour has a little something for everyone, barbie lunch included (snags and all). “We do everything from the glass bottom boat tour where we’re sometimes lucky enough to see turtles and some of the beautiful coral we have at Great Keppel, we have a beautiful lunch on board, some free time on Great Keppel, and then a fantastic snorkel,” Mick says. To finish the day, those feeling extra adventurous can get salty again and jump off the back of the boat for some boomnetting. Good old fashioned fun, boomnetting is like having a spa in the ocean - hang on to the net at the back of the boat and soak up that sea, salt and sun.

Every activity is optional, so if you’ve got little ones or you’re not feeling up to the snorkel, you can sit aboard the boat with a cuppa or a wine, and enjoy the crystal clear blues as far as the eye can see. When it’s time to explore Great Keppel, the crew give you tips to explore as much as you can during the time, but if you’re in need of a stress-buster, we recommend sinking your feet in the sand, perhaps taking an easy dip, and soaking up this picture-perfect place.

Don’t forget, if you do choose to snorkel, the crew are more than happy to guide you to certain spots in the reef. They know it best, so ask as many questions as you like. You might even spy a sea turtle or a clown fish. If you’re lucky, you might see an ancient brain coral. “One of the slowest growing species, there are pieces that are between 800 and 1500 years old,” Mick says.

With near-perfect weather here year-round, a visit to the paradise that is Great Keppel is welcome any time of year. For something extra special, consider a visit to witness the gentle giants of the ocean. “June, July, 

August and sometimes through to September, it’s our whale season,” Mick says. And we didn’t think it could get any better?

Ferry transfers to Great Keppel Island start at $15/child and $30/adult, while cruises begin at $50/child and $78/adult (family pass $220).

www.freedomfastcats.com

Nearest G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated park:

Discovery Parks - Coolwaters, Yeppoon

A word of warning: Queensland’s tropical waters are known to be home to a few of the more dangerous jellyfish or ‘stingers’. It is their home, after all. While there are more prominent jellyfish seasons (October to May), they can remain in the waters year-round, so it’s best to wear a stinger suit (light, full-body swimsuits). Freedom Fast Cats provide suits complimentary, with sizes to suit everyone. It’ll save you the worry so you can get back to surveying the reef.

WATCH: Stunning island experience on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

 

TUK TUK Tour of Airlie With Just Tuk’n Around

A stunning five-hour drive up the coast from Yeppoon, Airlie Beach is a destination well worth the journey. Go on, put a pin in your travel map, you won’t regret it. The vibrant town is nestled between towering mountains drenched in dense rainforest on one side, and white sandy stretches and sparkling sea on the other.

The town is the gateway to the Whitsundays and let’s face it, a trip to Queensland wouldn’t be quite complete without visiting this island paradise. Before you head out to sea, exploring Airlie is a great way to get your bearings. There’s more than meets the eye in this surprising spot.

Just Tuk'n Around

Tanya Lewis, Just Tuk'n Around

Tania Lewis knows the town better than most, her business Just Tuk’n Around providing tuk tuk tours of Airlie every day. “If you want to know the secrets of Airlie Beach, you’ve gotta go by tuk tuk,” she says.

The ‘pedicabs’ hold two people but Tania and her team can take a few passengers at a time with a couple of tuk tuks, which makes for a fun little convoy. Travelling around in the back of these snazzy little vehicles is as informative as it is fun (Tania and her crew are well-versed in the town’s secrets).

They’ll take you to secret public pools, locals-only bars (piña colada on a rooftop by the pool, anyone?) and restaurants in Airlie. By the time you hop off your peddled chariot, you’ll practically be a local. “We’ve got lagoons, resorts, beaches, boats, fishing trips...you name it, we’ve got it.” Throughout the journey, the crew will even tell you about some of the famous residents and visitors here.

Waving at passers-by and beeping the tuk tuk horn is a hoot. Tania says half the fun is encouraging people to get involved. “You get to be a celebrity in the back of the tuk tuk.” The town certainly does - it’s like you’re a kid on a pageant float again.

Feeling adventurous, or perhaps even a little peckish? Tania has a tour for that, too. “We do progressive dinners, so if you want to do some fine dining while you’re here, why not let us take you on a tuk tuk. You can have a cocktail or two, and eat some of the beautiful food here in Airlie.”

Tours start at $30/person. For more information, visit the website.

www.justtuknaround.com.au

Nearest G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated park:

Discovery Parks - Airlie Beach

WATCH: The Airlie Beach fun and adventurous tour. Honk honk!

 

 

Whitsundays with GSL AVIATION

Once I get you up there, where the air is rarefied...we’ll just glide...starry eyed…Sinatra said it right all along - seeing the world from up in the clouds really is the most magical viewpoint. With 74 islands making up the wondrous Whitsundays, it’s no wonder you need to fly high in the sky to see them all in their sparkly best.

GSL Pilot

Joel, GSL Pilot. 

Of course, there are dozens of ways to enjoy these spectacular islands, whether by boat, snorkeling, paddle boarding - you name it. If you’re after something a little extra special for your trip, hopping aboard a light aircraft and setting sail into the skies is just the ticket. With your wheels to the pavement for so many kilometres up this coastline road trip, it’s a breath of fresh air (quite literally) getting your feet off the ground.

If you’re looking to take to the skies, GSL Aviation are a passionate crew taking fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter tours out of Whitsunday Airport (and Cairns, too, if you’re staying further north). The tiny airport is just a ten-minute drive from Airlie’s town centre.

Choose between the 30-minute island explorer tour, which gives you an overview of the stunning seascape and patchwork of islands, or the full 60-minute tour which takes you out to the Great Barrier Reef, too. Tourists flock from near and far to see this natural wonder of the world, and once you see it from a birds-eye view, you’ll see just why.

“On our flights, you’ll get the opportunity to see Whitehaven Beach and the beautiful Hill Inlet, voted the number one best beach in Australia, and top three in the world,” GSL pilot Joel Stone says. “Depending on what you’re looking for, we can tailor you a package or even land on Whitehaven Beach with one of our helicopter tours.”

GSL Aviation

GSL Aviation. 

The flight will set you back a little more of the holiday piggy bank, but if you plan ahead, this is an experience worth saving your pennies for. To see the incredible expanse of reef as it stretches far and wide, as far as your eyes can see, is humbling. The sheer size and length is something the crew say you can only grasp from the skies. “You get a different perspective,” office manager Laura Roebig says. “You get to take in a lot more of the swirling sands and the reef from the plane. From the ground, it doesn’t look as big, but from the air, you can see just how much there is to see. ”

It’s also a great way to see the reef if you don’t have the time by boat, the reef’s edge around a three-hour boat trip from port of Airlie, and only 25 minutes by plane. “It’s just an hour but you get to see all of the Whitsundays, and if you are planning to go out by boat afterwards, you can see where you’ve been.”

If you’re really lucky, you might spy some sea turtles, sharks, stingrays or even a whale during whale season (June - September). Keep your eyes peeled and come fly, fly away…

Flights start at $129/person. Prior booking is recommended.

www.gslaviation.com.au/airlie

Nearest G’DAY Rewards Network affiliated park:

Discovery Parks - Airlie Beach

WATCH: Come fly over the Great Barrier Reef and see famous Heart Reef

 

Whitehaven Beach with Cruise Whitsundays

Stepping off onto the sand at Whitehaven is one of those grin-inducing moments you’ll likely never forget. Crystal clear waters, soft white sand and rugged bushland are jaw-droppingly beautiful, not to mention the scattering of islands you can see from the beach. It’s easy to see why visitors come from far and wide, especially when you sink your little toes into the pure silica sands and take it all in.

Cruise Whitsundeys

Courtney Eaves, Cruise Director.

Got you hooked yet? If your road trip takes you this far north, book a tour with Cruise Whitsundays. The crew here have a number of vessels and tour options to get you to Whitehaven and back, with optional extras and activities to choose from. They all have one thing in common - a lengthy visit to Whitehaven.

The 7km stretch of beach is part of Whitsunday island, the largest of the 74 islands which make up the iconic collection. But it’s not just the destination that makes visitors swoon - it’s the journey through Solway Passage, past Hamilton Island, Passage Peak and Pentecost Island.

The hardest part? Deciding where to look. We recommend standing out on the back deck where you can take it all in - Titanic-style - with the sea breeze in your hair. The crew hang out here, too, and they’re all locals with a yarn or five to share about this beautiful area.

“We have our half-day tour which takes you to Whitehaven, and we also offer a full-day tour which involves hiking up the beautiful Hill Inlet, seeing the fish, seeing the stingrays and the beautiful surroundings of nature,” cruise director Courtney Eaves says.

Cruise WhitsundaysCruise Whitsundays. 

Once on Whitehaven, you can simply kick back and relax on the sand, take a dip (don’t forget to grab your stinger suit on board if you like), or take advantage of one of the collection of activities on offer on shore. Treat yourself to a massage, take a hike, or let the little ones feed the fish with the team (this is a family favourite). Some of the activities do have an extra fee (massage, for example), but you can generally pay on board the ship.

Adrenaline junkies in your travelling convoy? They’ve got you sorted, too. “We have our awesome Full Day Reef Experience where you can go scuba diving, snorkelling, and we also have our Camira Sailing Adventure which is a full day where they take you snorkelling and up to Hill Inlet, too.”

For those who simply can’t get enough of Mother Nature’s jewel on her crown, you can even rest your head out on the reef. That’s right - forget a night under the stars, here you can have a night over the coral. Reefsleep is a two-day tour option offered, with a night sleeping on the permanently moored pontoon, 39 miles out to sea on Hardy Reef.

Peckish travellers, never fear - there are meals and snacks available on all cruise tours, as well as a full bar so you can even have a bubbly or a beer on the sunset cruise back through Whitsunday Passage.

Top tip: Bring your camera (there ARE too many Kodak moments to ignore out here), a water bottle, swimsuit and a few layers for the boat trip back as it can get a little chilly on the water. Stinger suits, food and drinks are all provided by the team.

Island transfers to Hamilton Island start at $40/child and

$62/adult, and cruise experiences start at $55/child and $109/adult. 

For more information of transfers and cruise options, visit the website. 

www.cruisewhitsundays.com  

WATCH: Hit the clear blue water of the Whitsundays and land on Whitehaven Beach.

 

Check out our last travel feature when travelled the Pacific Highway in NSW HERE

 

This travel feature was published in G’DAY Magazine.

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