Like rice to curry and chips to fish, Proserpine and Airlie Beach are different but complimentary. Have your fill of one, then top up with the other for the complete Whitsunday experience.
Proserpine is about 26 km inland from Airlie Beach on the Bruce Highway and was aptly named by the region’s first European explorer George Dalrymple after Proserpina (Roman) or Persephone (Greek), the Goddess of Fertility. Founded on the strengths of the sugar and cattle industries of the 1800’s, this substantial town lies in a lush and fertile valley, still surrounded by a sea of verdant cane fields. Much to the delight of sightseers, the winter skies often mirror wonderful orange sunsets as farmers torch their cane prior to harvest and delivery to the local sugar mill.
Many of the existing buildings and shop fronts in the town tell the story of that early era of elegance and prosperity, with examples of the 1920’s and 30’s architecture and interior design and decor still treasured and intact. Proserpine’s colonial past has been faithfully maintained and represented at the local museum. Apart from the modern shopping mall, the town maintains a variety of country style main street retail outlets.
The lifestyle too is still uniquely "Australian country". Unlike the polish of upmarket tourist destinations, visitors to Proserpine get a genuine dose of country character. The locals are relaxed, welcoming and friendly, the beer is cold, and some local pubs offer live music, and counter lunches to rival any.
All the key infrastructure for people living within the Whitsunday Shire - towns, farmlands, the Whitsunday Coast and the islands of the Whitsunday Passage - is based at/or co-ordinated from Proserpine.
There is modern shopping, a Cultural centre, regular cinema, industrial parks, schools, hospitals and other paramedical services. Proserpine accommodates both local and state government authorities, has a wide range of visitor accommodation, and boasts a busy local airport as well as the regional railway station.
Don ‘t leave Proserpine before you sample the opportunity to get up close and personal with one of Australia’s infamous saltwater crocodiles or indulge in the best freshwater game fishing you’re likely to find. You need only to book with The Whitsunday Crocodile Safari which departs Proserpine for wonderful eco tours of the Proserpine River (in season) to enjoy a safe look at Australia’s inland waterways and its variety of aquatic inhabitants.
As for the fishing – people travel from all over the world to fish for Barramundi on Proserpine’s Peter Faust Dam, a little north of the town. You can sail, jet ski and participate in other water sports there too, but it’s the barramundi that have earned Proserpine’s reputation as Australia’s definitive game fishing capital.