Whitsunday Islands

I got up at 6AM, but halfway during my check-out procedure I realized I was one hour early! Luggage storage wouldn’t be available before 7:30 and boarding time for the sailing was at 8:30. I was already up and dressed, so I went down to the lagoon to watch the sunrise.

I could only take onto the ship what I really needed, bulky backpacks were not allowed, soft bags only. I had bought a nice one the day before and packed what I needed for the trip: a sixpack of beer, 3 packs of TimTams, towel, bathers, clothes, …
The rest stayed in my 2 backpacks in my hostel’s luggage storage facility. I checked out and went to the meeting point, were I ran into Sabrina. I had met her on the bus to Noosa, then in Rainbow Beach, now in Airlie Beach. She was not on the same boat but on a similar 2 day / 1 night tour.

A few minutes later the 2 crewmen and the other guests showed up and we went along the jetty to where our boat, the “Iceberg” was tied up. We had to take off our shoes which were put in a sack and stored somewhere and got assigned a wetsuit. We got a quick security briefing, then we left the harbour. When we were out the bay we put up the sails, head and main one. Me and another guy had to pull down the ropes together while one of the girls kept pulling it around the winch.

The wind was nice and stable and we did not have to tack once.Β  Unfortunately the sails were in a position that cut off the whole deck from the sunlight. Our group sat on the high side of the boat. When I couldn’t take it anymore I went down to pick up my jumper, and when I came back up the skipper offered me the steering wheel πŸ˜€ I really enjoyed that. It’s not like a car where you just hold the wheel, on a sailing boat you have to constantly steer and adjust the rudder to the wind, the waves and the currents and try to keep going as straight as possible.

Around 11am we reached a passage between the 2 biggest islands where we took down the sails. At that time Sabrina passed as on her boat, the “Waltzing Matilda”. When we were through we anchored at Coral Bay and went snorkeling in our wetsuits. We saw fish in all colours and heaps of coralls. The wetsuit made it hard to dive though because it kept dragging me back to the surface. Floating around was all the easier in return.

After snorkelling for half an hour we went back onboard and had a delicious lunch before we continued our journey by motor because the wind was coming straight at us and we did not have the time to sail criss-cross. We were heading for Whitehaven beach, the number one beach of Australia with the finest and whitest sand in the world. The sand was that fine that it was used to make the lense of the hubble telescope.

The skipper brought us to the beach in the Dinghy, 6 persons at a time, and we had about 2 hours to spend at that lovely beach.

“We”, that was 2 german guys plus me, a german girl, a dutch girl and an italian girl who were travelling together, and a five-member family from the french part of Swiitzerland. We all got along really well and there was quite some french talk because the 3 girls and the mother didn’t understand everything in english, to the father had to translate sometimes. On the other hand one of the german guys used the opportunity to dig up his french skills and get some practise. It was a very personal experience and we kinda felt like a big family.

Around 5pm we were picked up again and then went to Tongue Bay where we anchored for the night. We had a lovely dinner and then spent some time sitting on deck, talking and watching the awesome starlit sky. And I noticed something! For the first time in a long time the night was not pitch black because we had half the moon directly overhead. This also means that the moon’s orientation depends on your point of view. At home it is somewhere on the horizon, but here it was directly overhead.

I was with the last ones to go to bed and I slept 10 hours straight from 10:30pm to 6:30am. The smooth swing of the boat made me sleep like a baby πŸ˜€

 

 

The next morning at 7am we had a great continental breakfast. They even had real Nutella! Haven’t had that for ages.

After breakfast we were brought to the shore of Tongue Bay where we had about 2 hours to walk up the lookout and down to the beach. It was the region of the Swirling Sands, one of the 5 topmost photographed places in Australia. It was absolutely beautiful! And I ran into almost a dozen familiar faces: the 2 scottish girls from my first night in Agnes Water, the 3 english ones from the second night, 2 german ones from both nights. I also met Rebecca whom I had already met in Airlie Beach the day before, of course I ran into Sabrina again, and I also met another girl from the bus from Brisbane to Noosa. It’s ridiculous how everybody shows up in the same spots at the same time.

When we were back we left the bay, but not without seeing 3 big turtles and a dugong. Very nice! We drove to another dive spot, this time I went without a wetsuit. That saved me some time and while the others were trying to get their wetties on the skipper said if I’m a good swimmer I could go ahead and swim over to the reef and up the coast. So I did, and it was great! The sight was better than the last time, I saw beautiful coralls and huge and colourful fish. Even a Nemo-like one πŸ˜€

And I dived a lot, as it was much easier without the wetsuit. There were beautiful canyons of coral reef that I dived through. Unfortunately, at one point I misjudged the available space and heavily scratched my shoulder on the coralls so that it started bleeding.
Fortunately though no sharks showed up ^^ I continued snorkeling the last bit of the reef, then went back into the dinghy and to the ship. The crewmen made some of me, the other guests where a little worried, but I was fine. I just let it dry in the sunlight, it looked worse than it was.

We got delicious beagle sandwiches for lunch and drove back through the passage between the islands. On the way we saw a whale! Finally, so far I was never lucky. I saw a giant tail hit the water and the splash when the whale breathed out.

When we were through the passage we put the sails up again and sailed back to port. I did not help anymore to spare my sore shoulder. I just relaxed in the sun on deck πŸ™‚ At 4PM we were back in the harbour, said goodbye and I went back to my hostel.

I checked in, collected my bags from the luggage storage and went into my room. A 10 bed dorm like the last time, but another one. I unpacked and had a shower, after which my shoulder didn’t look as bad anymore because the blood on the surface was washed away. Now there’s a tribal of scratches. I had a full agenda for the evening so no time for resting. Next thing was laundry, especially my towels needed a wash. I filled one machine, then went back to my room to select and upload photos from my awesome Whitsunday trip.

Shortly before 8 I was finished uploading, threw all the clothes in the dryer and left for the Down Under Bar to meet Nicole, who had arrived in Airlie Beach just a couple of hours before. We talked about what happened since we went different ways at Rainbow Beach and I got a glass of beer from her OzEx group without even asking. Nice πŸ™‚

I also ran into Sabrina again. When I asked her how long she was staying in Airlie it turned out that she and Nicole also knew each other, they had met independently from me. It was quite a laugh.

At 9PM I left and went to a club named “Mama Africa” to meet the two Australian girls I had met at my first night in Airlie. What I did not know was that the club doesn’t open before 10PM, so we went to Magnums first and had drinks there. We talked heaps and had a great time catching up, telling about our different trips and future plans. About 1.5 hours later I started to get cold and we decided to go to Mama Africa now. Before that I collected my dried clothes from the laundry and deposited them in my room, showing the hostel to the girls on the way. Around 11 we finally were at Mama Africa and didn’t even have to show ID.

I had a voucher for a free drink that I took advantage of and had an awesome cocktail named “Lion King” afterwards. It was Kahlua, milk, cream and some other stuff where I cannot remember the name. It was delicious! The club was still quite empty though so we just kept talking. Approaching midnight the club suddenly started to fill rather quickly and then we went on the dancefloor. We had a lot of fun together, it was great to finally “dance” again, although it’s not the proper dancing I do at home with my awesome partner πŸ˜‰ The girls were happy to have me – first because we got along so well and – second because I kept all the “sleazy guys” as they called them away so they could simply enjoy dancing to the beat πŸ™‚

Around 1AM we decided to finish for the night as we all had to get up really early that morning. I accompanied them to the next cab stand which happened to be across the road from my hostel anyway. We hugged for goodbye with the promise to meet again in Melbourne in a few weeks when I get there.

This was the first time that everybody in my dorm was already in bed when I got in. Unfortunately for them I had to fold all my laundry and pack my back to check out only 5 hours later. I used my torch and was as quiet as possible. At 2PM I was finally in bed and was facing the awesome amount of 4 hours of sleep before I would have to get up again.

 

To sum it all up: the 2 day sailing trip was awesome and I had unbelievable much fun with the 2 girls from Melbourne in the evening. It felt like partying with real friends again, a feeling that I really miss with all the superficial backpacker contacts. Knowing that I will live very close to them for half a year puts the friendship into a completely different light.

 

Enough talk now, enjoy my beautiful photos:

 

From 2011-07-09+1 Sailing the Whitsunday Islands. Posted by Philipp HΓΌbner on 7/10/2011 (66 items)

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Category: Australia, Places