Australia: Whitsunday Islands/Great Barrier Reef
Michael and I traveled to Australia as part of our 2007 career break. The following is an excerpt from our travel blog.
Another bright and early day as we set off from the Hervey Bay area and headed south to Brisbane via train. Four hours later and we were awaiting our flight north to Proserpine. From there a shuttle bus took us to Airlie Beach. And then we made our way by foot to Abel Point Marina. By sunset we were on a catamaran and ready to set sail for the Whitsunday Islands. After so much movement in our first week, we were looking forward to anchoring ourselves in one spot for three days – even if our home was moving itself.
One of my favorite experiences from my last visit was sailing the Whitsundays, and I wanted Michael to experience it as well. And Michael was really looking forward to diving the Great Barrier Reef. With our tight schedule, we were uncertain if we could squeeze both in, but luckily our boat, the Pacific Star, cruised the Whitsundays and motored out to the outer reef for diving and snorkeling. Perfectly timed. Now we hoped the weather would cooperate.
As we set out at night to a nearly full moon, we sipped rum as we searched the sky for stars. Michael was determined to drink just rum and didn’t let the “no bottles” rule get in his way. Nothing like a good 1.5 liter plastic water bottle for filling up with Bundaberg rum.
We woke up to a glorious morning at Whitsunday Island, the largest island in the Whitsunday group. We anchored in Tongue Bay and hiked up for a beautiful view of Hill Inlet. Then down to the north end of Whitehaven Beach – otherwise known as Betty Beach. The 6.7km stretch of sand most recognized in photos as Whitehaven Beach rested to our south. But we still enjoyed the pure white sand and crystal clear waters that surrounded us. After a few hours we were back on the boat and enjoyed a delicious lunch as we motored our way out to Bait Reef for snorkeling – the Whitsundays barely visible in the distance.
As we woke up the next morning, our views were pure reef, water and sky. Not a cloud or land mass in sight. We were certainly in reef territory. Shane, our captain, knew of a perfect reef that was last visited by someone else over eight years before. Nicknamed “Club 21” reef, this is where Michael would have his first diving experience.
For the afternoon, we headed to Nett Reef. As the tide was low, it was fantastic for snorkeling as we could get up nice and close to the coral and fish. And we stayed here so that the certified divers, including Michael, could have a go at night diving under a full moon.
We motored through the night so that we could make it back to Hayman Island in the Whitsundays for our last day of diving and snorkeling. Our third and final day on the Pacific Star was just as beautiful as the first two. And as we pulled back into the marina, our thoughts looked ahead to a good shower, a steady bed, and a cold beer.
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