Cruising in the Wetsundays   4 comments

Another day in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, another gloomy day. The wind had dropped and the rain had turned to drizzle but if anything the day was more dreary than the day before. The cloud was down pretty much to sea level and everything was grey and dark.

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

The plan had been to get a very early start and take full day trip to Whitehaven Beach. Images of a long lazy day under a blue sky on the white silica beach taking time out to swim, snorkel and walk in the bush. Can’t say that I really fancied spending a whole day sitting on a beach in the rain. Our tour operator kindly let us swap to a “3 island tour” to take in the resort islands of Daydream and Hamilton with just an afternoon at Whitehaven Beach. I figured the resorts might at least give us a change of scene and somewhere to shelter from the rain.

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

Well, the best thing I can say about Hamilton and Daydream Islands is that they are indeed a change of scene and they did give us shelter from the rain. Daydream Island resembles an upmarket Butlins. Absolutely not my sort of place. It did have some rather damp and pi55ed off looking wallabies in the grounds and they did have a large outdoor aquarium complete with a range of sharks and rays. They held a feeding session which the kids enjoyed. That was it really and I can’t say I have any inclination to return

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

At least Daydream had some kind of cheesy charm. If anything I liked Hamilton Island even less. Obscenely ostentatious, all rich yachting types and golf carts with some quite grotesque high-rise hotels. This is not the Whitsundays of the brochures. We heard that the guy who had the rights to develop the island had been told that he could not build any development higher than the trees. He got around this quite ingeniously and outrageously by building a hotel no higher than the tallest tree on the highest part of the island i.e. a tower block. Whatever passed for the authorities in the area let him do it. Now Hamilton Island resembles an upmarket Benidorm on a what I’m certain used to be a glorious tropical island. I hated it

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

We did at least have a decent lunch, and an ice cream on the beach. It may have been the culmination of a day and half in the rain but my spirits were pretty low in seeing how they had allowed development to despoil the place

When we boarded the boat to Whitehaven things began to improve. The skipper on the boat gave an insightful and humorous commentary as we cruised around Whitsunday Island.

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

As we approached Whitehaven Beach it stopped raining and there were tentative signs of the weather finally breaking. We were ferried ashore in a little punt sort of thing and stepped ashore finally at Whitehaven. Suddenly spirits were lifted. The sun didn’t exactly come out but it was bright and warm and the water was crystal clear and inviting.

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

We spent a happy couple of hours finally enjoying what the Whitsundays had to offer with a wander on the beach and a couple of swims. There are campsites right on the beach and it looked so inviting, a total contrast to the high-rise squalor of Hamilton Island. It must be magnificent before and after the tour boats arrive to be camped in this most stunning of spots. What it must be like on a clear blue sky day. That would be my idea of a Whitsundays resort

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

All too soon it was time to head home. As we boarded the boat we saw our first blue sky and watery sunshine for two days. Our more buoyant mood was further improved by warm scones, tea and fresh fruit, courtesy of Cruise Whitsundays (you can find my review of their day trip here).

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

From there everything improved. The sun started to break through and we were treated to a fabulous sunset over the Whitsundays as we travelled back to Airlie Beach via Daydream Island and Hamilton Island once more. Despite the chilly wind I stood out on the front of the boat all the way and soaked in the views and reeled off loads of photos

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

I had finally seen something of what the Whitsundays had to offer. Looking back now its really unfortunate that I don’t have quite the same fond memories that we had of almost everywhere else we went in Queensland. Obviously the weather didn’t help but the blatant commercialism that exists at Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Daydream Island was not only the antithesis of the kind of places I like but was completely out of character with everywhere else we stayed. If I return I would seek out one of the quieter islands or better still try to arrange a camping trip or 2/3 night sailing trip to get away from the crowds. Rather than feeling unlucky at a day and a half of bad weather I feel lucky that we had half a day of great weather. Enough to show me that the Whitsunday’s deserve another chance with a bit of thought and planning

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4 responses to “Cruising in the Wetsundays

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  1. It’s all part of travelling isn’t it – seeing both the good and the bad. Makes you appreciate the good more, but also gives you a realistic picture of the world, I think, which is never perfect, however much you want it to be.
    It also informs for future trip planning….(Crikey, I sound like a teacher…..)

    Like

    • Blimey that was a bit heavy there Chrissie 🙂

      I think it was the fact I wasn’t expecting so much commercialisation after such an understated first couple of weeks. Luckiliy everywhere else was gloriously unspoilt although we didn’t stop in Cairns which I hear is just as bad

      Like

  2. I can see that must have been frustrating. But the swimming looks good. And the photos you got at the end are stunning – so not all bad.

    Like

    beatingthebounds
    • Yep, 4 weeks in Australia and we had one complete washout (the previous day), one half wet day and a few showers. Can’t complain at all really and that sunset ride home was a real highlight.

      Like

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