Getting around the Whitsunday and neighbouring attractions like Townsville and Mackay is quite convenient. This is owing to the fact that there are a number of public transport facilities that tourists can choose from.
There is easy access to Whitsundays from other destinations in Australia. Between the mainland and the Whitsunday Islands, there are:
· 2 domestic airports
· Neighbouring national and international airports in bigger cities
· One lightcraft airport
· Landing areas in some island resorts
You can book a flight on Virgin Blue, Qantas and Jetstar, which are some of flight companies servicing north Queensland. Between the mainland and the Hamilton Island airport, seaplanes and helicopters can take you to camping islands and certain resorts.
Other forms of inter-island public transportation that also transfer you to and forth from the mainland include water taxis and ferries. They cover the entire island region, transporting passengers every day, with the starting points being the Hamilton Island and Shute Harbour marina. Public transport apart, rental transport in the form of sailing vessels, jet skis and golf buggies also cater to tourist requirements. Here is some information on the different transportation modes that visitors to the island can opt for.
Buses are the most popular form of transport for all tourists, and are cheaper in comparison to rental transport. Backpackers and budget travellers prefer to wait at bus stations to get around. Coach providers in the Whitsundays offer reliable, comfortable and safe transportation. For quick transfers within the city, you cannot do better than the 365-days-a-year public bus service.
Transfer services for arriving and departing passengers from the airport and railway stations, long-distance journeys, and short point-to-point transfers are all provided by bus and coach services operating in and around the Whitsundays.
Whitsunday Transit: Whitsunday Transit (whitsundaytransit.com.au/) is the major transport service in the mainland. Its scheduled services connect Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Shute Harbour and Proserpine. Night services (safe and efficient) between Cannonvale and the coastal township of Jubilee Pocket are also provided throughout the week. In the Whitsundays region, seventy services operate on a daily basis. You will find a number of bus stations where there is a good frequency of arrivals every 30min.
The low-floor buses allow easy and unrestricted access for passengers. Close to 70% of Whitsunday Transit’s facilities are also wheelchair-accessible.
The bus fares at Whitsunday Transit can cost adult passengers anywhere between $3 and $28 depending on the area, railway/airport transfers. You can also opt for an all-day travel pass at a competitive price, and use it to explore the destination of choice conveniently and cheaply.
Please use whitsundaytransit.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=13 to access the timetable and map for Whitsundays Transit’s bus services. You can also check if the resort you are staying at makes this timetable available for its guests.
Whitsunday Shuttle Service (whitsundayshuttle.com.au/): Whitsunday Shuttle Service offers airport transfers, charters and tours throughout the areas of Cannonvale, Whitsundays Coast Airport, Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour and Port of Airlie. It caters to cruise boats, motels, hotels and charter yachts.
The Whitsunday area is serviced by Queensland Rail, which operates approximately eight services on a weekly basis. The rail link to the Whitsunday Islands is Proserpine, which is located 26km from Airlie Beach. Whitsunday Transit and many other coach services meet the rail service at Proserpine. The coach services connect to Airlie Beach and then the other tourist islands by ferry, water taxi and catamaran.
You can choose from the following rail services:
· The new high speed tilt train
· Sunlander, which offers freight services
· Spirit of the Tropics
Trains that are north-bound run between Brisbane and Cairns, and stop at Proserpine. Brisbane to Proserpine takes approximately 20 hours, while Cairns to Proserpine is approximately 12 hours.
The Sunlander runs three services each week, on Saturday, Thursday and Tuesday mornings and arrives at Proserpine the next day later in the afternoon. En route, it halts at main towns. There are economy and first-class berths. As a first-class passenger, you can book twinettes and roomettes. There is also the premium Queenslander Class offering all-inclusive meals and twin berths. The train has a club car and a dining car.
The Spirit of the Tropics runs once a week from November to May and twice per week from June to October. Other than Proserpine, it halts at Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone.
The Tilt Train is a newer service that provides high-speed transport between Brisbane and Cairns. Stopping at Proserpine and Gladstone, it has made access to the Whitsundays very quick and easy. Running thrice every week, the Tilt Train is a great way to travel comfortably and enjoy the beautiful views of the landscape through the course of journey as well.
For more information regarding Queensland Rail’s schedule and prices, please visit queenslandrail.com.au/Pages/Default.aspx .
One of the most comfortable forms of public transport in the Whitsundays is undoubtedly the taxi. You will find taxi ranks near hotels, shopping centres and transport terminal. For instance, there is a large taxi rank at the centre of picturesque Airlie Beach.
You can book them in advance or hail them on the streets. To book a taxi for immediate travel, you can call 131 008. On the other hand, for airport transfers prior bookings are necessary. In this regard, you can contact Whitsunday Airport Taxi Transit, which operates daily between Proserpine Airport and Airlie Beach (the distance between the two is a little more than 50 kilometre).
An on-duty vacant taxi will have its hail light on. When travelling by taxi, keep in mind that you have the following rights:
· You can decide the route
· You can terminate your journey at any point of time, but pay the fare owed until the distance travelled
· You can decline multiple hiring (two or more hirers using the same taxi at the same time).
The taxicab you hail will have a fare sticker that displays all pertinent charges. Wheelchair-accessible taxis are also available, and the waiting times for these are the same as standard taxis.
You will also find many car rental, bicycle rental and moped rental companies in the region. Depending on your travel plans and budget, you can opt for these modes of transportation as well.
Boats and ferries
Mainland and island guests can explore the Whitsundays conveniently and comfortably by using water taxi and ferry services. They operate on a daily basis from two key launching sites, the Hamilton Island marina and the Shute Harbour on the mainland.
Shute Harbour is located at a distance of 6 kilometres from Airlie Beach, and is one of Australia’s busiest harbours. Ferry and water taxi services depart from this mainland constantly and at good frequencies to numerous drop-off points. The Hamilton Island marina is also a busy one, with public transportation and water-borne services connecting with all departing and arriving flights. Resort campers and guests will find ferries and water taxis very convenient to shuttle to their intended destinations.
What is so great about ferry services is that they give you the opportunity to admire and enjoy the beautiful Coral Sea waters, whilst also transferring you quickly and comfortably to the mainland and island destinations of your choice.
There are so many wonderful islands worth visiting here that you may want to book a sailing trip for a more wholesome experience. Sailing trips are an alterative to day-trips across the island by ferry. But a lot of your time will be spent in transit, so keep this point in mind when you book a multi-day island sailing trip.
As there are a number of cruise, catamaran and other ferry services, you have a lot of flexibility in choosing one that best meets your requirements. Quite of a few of these services offer special discounts for children and families from time to time.