The Whitsundays has a stretch of mainland, and that's where we will be putting the spot light on.
Many visitors get the impression that the Whitsundays are a series of islands on the east coast of Australia, and whilst it's true, there’s more to it than the names suggests.
The Whitsundays consist of over 74 inhabited and uninhabited islands, but it also has a stretch of mainland, and that’s where we will be concentrating. The mainland stretches from Bowen in the north all the way down to Laguna Quays in the south and inland to Collinsville. In between there are wonderful places to enjoy - the beach, the forest, the water and attractions with some excellent facilities.
The main hub of the Whitsundays is Airlie Beach. This is where you will find everything from 5 star resorts to backpacker hostels, elegant restaurants to tasty take-a-way’s, and quiet bars to buzzing nightclubs. Airlie Beach is famous for being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, with boats from Able Point Marina not only shuttling visitors to the reef, but also to the nearby islands. Another of the jumping points to the islands is Shute Harbour. Quieter than Airlie Beach, but still with great views out over the ocean, this is where some superb walking trails, tours out to the nearby islands and one of the best cafes in the area, overlooking the harbour.
Away from the water, although still on the coast, is Conway National Park. The park is home to two excellent walking trails - The Whitsunday Great Walk and the Kingfisher Trail. The Whitsunday Great Walk travels through magnificent tropical rainforest, passes by seasonal creeks and looks out towards the Whitsunday islands. It's also home to the blue Ulysses Butterfly, the lemon scented Myrtle which flowers in summer and the Wompoo Fruit-Dove. If you want to try the entire walk it takes three days, with campsites along the way, but you can also break the walk down into shorter day walks if you prefer. The other walking trail is the Kingfisher Circuit, a 2 km round trip which takes between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to complete. There are a few steep sections and quite a few stairs, but as you pass giant strangler figs and tulip oaks decorated with basket ferns, you will hardly notice the climb. Here’s a link to the park and its walks http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/conway/
If you’re visiting Conway National Park and want to stay nearby you will find the family and pet friendly Conway Beach Tourist Park. Set near Conway Beach, it’s perfect for fishing and crabbing and popular with the entrants to the major fishing events which are held throughout the year. Conway also boasts something you won’t find anywhere else in the Whitsundays … the only nudist resort, situated on Conway Beach Road.
Another one off is Proserpine, home to the only museum in the Whitsundays. Proserpine is where you will also find the Whitsundays only Crocodile Safari and some one off, quirky, shopping opportunities. As well as all these unusual ‘one off’s’ Proserpine is also home to the Whitsunday Airport and the Peter Faust Dam, which is stocked with over 20,000 Barramundi each year and open from January to December.
Travel north and you will find some hidden gems, favourites of the locals and visitors in the know. There’s Dingo Beach, sister town of Hideaway Bay with miles of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and excellent fishing.
Travelling on through Hideaway Bay you come to two excellent places to stay and eat, Montes Reef Resort and Restaurant and Cape Gloucester Eco-Resort, both with a relaxed laid-back atmosphere and sensational island views.
The furthest point north of the Whitsundays is Bowen, famous for its fishing, seasonal fruit picking jobs, beaches and its stunning coral. But, the coral at Bowen is unique; there's no need to get into a boat to see it, you can actually swim out from the shore. Bowen is also famous for being the setting for the movie Australia, featuring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.