Myself and a mate from New Zealand are moving to Northern Queensland soon to live and instruct diving for a year or so and would love some advice on the best spot up there? We're thinking Cairns, Airlie Beach or somewhere similar. We Both need to be able to get work in the diving industry and love a good party. Any tips would be much appreciated.
My husband and I moved to Airlie Beach June 2009 from Arizona (we're Americans) We are both divers. THis place qualifies for your criteria (dive work and party) It's a small town full of backpackers, has 2 marina's, lovely lagoon pool and is easy to get around. People are friendly for the most part but cops are tough....no drunken disorderly conduct is tolerated.
I lived in Cairns briefly and can only say I did not enjoy it....lacks charm
I would recommend contacting Island Dive in Airlie Beach about work. They have about 5-6 boats in good condition that cruise the islands and one goes to the reef. Also Cruise Whitsunday's has a pontoon at Knuckle reef and large fast boat going to reef everyday.
Good Luck to you both!
Cairns and Airlie are the 2 logical spots, though you could also consider Port Douglas or Magnetic Island, but they're not exactly party central! I worked in Airlie 2002-3 and Cairns 2004-present. Airlie has the fantastic Whitsundays on its doorstep, and it's certainly a party town. If you're only planning a year it's probably the best bet. The only drawback is its size... pretty tiny, really just a one-street town, with little else for hundreds of kms around. Having said that half the population changes every 4 days or so, so that keeps the attention a little longer. The other 'drawback' is every night's a Saturday night, which sounds great until you try it for a few months! When I was there we had several different very active dive schools. Unfortunately these have since folded so there's not as much scope for dive course work or liveaboards.
If that's what you're after Cairns has more to offer (and much more to do outside diving and drinking too!), but you'll probably have to do some time on the dayboats first in any case. So it's Airlie for shorter term partying, Cairns for long-term living for me! Take your pick! One good tip is to arrive mid-end of low-season for the best chances of picking up work easily as last year's mob have already gone elsewhere!
For the best actual diving you want to go as far north as possible i.e port Douglas or one of the liveaboards out of Cairns to Osprey Reef.
I would live anywhere in Queensland if I could! What a fantastic place. You are soooo lucky to move there! I'm going to agree with the other bloggers, I liked Arlie Beach as it was party tourist central and how could you go wrong with the whitsundays for scuba...and I think it best matches your agenda, but of course Cairns is gigantic in comparison, so more opportunities for jobs, housing, parties, etc. Port Douglas was more for the rich and famous. I also loved loved Mission Beach it was so laid back and hippy.
I'm sure where ever you end up you will love.