We have wanted to return to Airlie Beach for many years. 20 or so years ago we had our yacht moored at Hamilton Island. Having enjoyed many years of sailing in the Whitsundays we wanted to go back and relive some of our memories.
Originally, we were planning on spending a week in Airlie Beach but we enjoyed it so much that we spent a second week in Airlie. One of the challenges with Covid is that we are leaving booking accommodation to the last minute more than ever because so many places are now no longer allowing refunds for cancellations (no matter what the reason). It took a little bit of effort, and cost a little more than we prefer, but we ended with a really nice apartment at the Port of Airlie marina.
With such a great location we spent many mornings and evenings at our apartment eating out on the balcony. It was so nice to sit and watch the boats and with warm weather we managed to live in shorts all day long. One of the nights we were lazy and decided to get some pizza’s from a restaurant that was downstairs. They were very nice and whilst not quite Italian, they were better than the average Aussie pizza that invariably comes laden with toppings.
Our first week in Airlie was the week that Glenda would complete her 100th parkrun. Before the start she was called up to the stage to mark the occasion. The run itself was very scenic following a path along the waterfront. Not only was it Glenda’s 100th Parkrun but she was also the first women home in her age category. Even better, the next week Glenda ended up as the first women finisher. She is running so well at the moment.
On the second week, whilst walking to the Parkrun Start (2.5km) we saw a lady who also looked to be heading to parkrun. We gave her directions for getting there. After the run, chatting to her, we were surprised to find out that she had been at one of the Florence Parkruns we did in 2018. What a small world.
If there is hill to climb, we tend to climb it. Airlie is surrounded by National Park which includes a few hills. On one of the days we set out to climb to the Honeyeater Lookout. We had seen what looked like an interesting café on the way to start the hike and took the opportunity to fuel our stomachs for the hike. A version of Canadian pancakes and a bacon and egg roll with popcorn soon had us filled and ready to go. The hike itself was easy on the one hand because the track is well formed. On the other hand it was strenuous because it was very steep at 30 degrees in some parts. The view was rewarding although it would have been better on a sunny day.
We had mixed feelings about going to Hamilton Island. In some ways it was a home away from home for us for a number of years. In later years we have not enjoyed it as much as it had become very busy. Originally there was very little privately owned property available. In recent years they have sold a large number of blocks of land and the Island has filled up with homes and the golf buggy’s that people use to get around. We took a ferry across early in the morning and enjoyed breakfast a new café – it had previously been the small supermarket. Hamilton now has a new bigger supermarket (to cater for said increase in the population).
We were pleasantly surprised to find that Hamilton was very quiet. With NSW and Victoria in lockdown the tourist numbers are down significantly. Nice for use, probably not so much for the tourism operators.
We spend most of the day walking around the Island, climbing various peaks and enjoying some of the unspoilt parts of the Island. We did discover a ‘big chair’ on our walk and it reminded us of our time in Canada where they have all their red chairs.
Towards the end of the day we stopped of for coffee at the wildlife cafe. Not only did we see a few Koala’s, we also got to meet a South African guy who was running the cafe. We were able to have a long chat, with business being slow, he had time. It was good to get back to Hamilton Island and relive some old memories.
You can’t go to the Whitsundays and not sail, in our opinion it is one of the best sailing destinations. The problem we found was that with tourism down, many of the sailing boats were not going out. In the end we found a couple on a 12m catamaran that were still running day trips. It was good to get out sailing again and we even managed a snorkel at Blue Pearl on the north end of Hayman Island. We had previously snorkelled there. It was a little sad to see that cyclone Debbie (2017) had damaged a lot of the coral. It is starting to come back, but is nothing like we remembered it.
With some good wind on the day, it was nice to enjoy sailing. All our sailing has been on yachts and so it was nice to experience the difference sailing on a catamaran. Which do we prefer….don’t know….you will need to try both yourself and decide.