Hello from the famous Whitsundays! We are currently in the little town of Airlie Beach, gateway to the group of islands known as the Whitsundays. We are very much in the tropical north now, complete with unpredictable weather, humidity and tropical heat. It's beautiful here! The city relies on a tourist-based economy and the main street is lined with hostels, pubs, restaurants and touristy shops. There is a man-made "Lagoon" with beaches and grassy areas for the public to swim, since the waters around here are frequented by "stingers" (jellyfish) at this time of year. Also, Airlie's waterfront is mostly a giant marina which houses hundreds of privately owned and tourist boats for sailing among the islands. We arrived after the endless overnighter bus ordeal around 8am. It was warm and sunny, but the reception at our hostel was less so. We were informed that we couldn't check in until around 12:30, giving us a few hours to kill. We dumped our heavy bags in the luggage room and wandered down the street in search of food. What we found instead was one of many tourist offices, and before we knew it we had booked onto a daytrip to the Whitsundays! Many backpackers opt for 2 night/3 day sailing excursions in the islands, but both of us disliked the idea of being stuck on a boat for that much time. A day trip suited us perfectly, and we had a great day!
Our boat was a jet-boat called the Fury. A fast boat is an asset for a daytrip because you can see more! We drove out about an hour into the islands to one called Border Island where we dropped anchor next to a reef for some snorkelling! The visibility was pretty good, and we were able to see coral and tons of fish... and a turtle! we had quite a bit of time in the water and it was great! From there we weaved through a few more islands to beautiful Whitehaven Beach. This is the beach that is on Whitsunday postcards. It's a beautiful expanse of white sand overlooking teal blue water... absolutely stunning! We enjoyed a delicious lunch here and lounged on the beach. TJ got a chance to play some cricket on the beach, an favourite Australian beach pasttime. On our way back we got a nice view of the sunset and managed to dodge a few scattered rain showers.
Today we DID LAUNDRY and it was wonderful!! Clean clothes, what luxury! We wandered around the waterfront and lounged next to the lagoon. Around 1pm it started raining a bit so we went up to a cafe for lunch... a good choice because torrential rain followed the sprinkles. Rain here is different... it's not that the drops are big, but they are somehow closer together. You can be outside for about 5 seconds and be soaked through... at least it's warm still!
So here we are in the internet cafe where we came to check the hockey scores.... GO CANUCKS GO! (and Giants!) woooooooot a fine day for hockey!
We are off to Magnetic Island via Townsville bright and early tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed for good weather!
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