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Sailing the Whitsundays

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Wow what a way to start 2014, if this is anything to go by the rest of this year is going to be awesome!

First off a big thank you to Sam and Sophie who we met in China. They were unable to go on their Whitsunday's trip and so transferred it to us as an early wedding present, so we only had to pay a fraction of the cost. You guys are legends :) XieXie! :)

We left Perth behind on New Year's Eve to start our second journey from one side of Australia to the other, but this time we would be flying and not driving!

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Our destination was Proserpine which was the nearest airport to Airlie Beach, otherwise known as the gateway to the Whitsundays, and where we would be starting our sailing adventure from. We were excited to be on the road again and had already got into the New Years spirit with a 'few' cheeky drinks. We were flying with Virgin who embraced welcoming in the new year by decking out the plane with new year bunting and the air hostesses wore glow stick head bands, all adding to the fun!

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I think she was a bit shocked by Dans shenanigans!

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Here is our first glimpse of 2014...

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When we arrived at Prosperpine the next morning we were immediately hit by how humid it was compared to the West coast and it was hot! As we drove to Airlie Beach we definitely could tell we were in the more tropical part of Australia and the scenery reminded us of places we had been in Asia.

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We were too early to check into our hostel so after dropping off our bags and having a quick shower we headed out to find some breakfast and explore Airlie beach.

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Not a bad place to have to hang out!

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No one was in the water though due to the risk of stingers aka jelly fish! There are two types of jellyfish that are of concern here, one is the box jelly fish which can cause death in as little as 3 minutes and can have tentacles that are 4m long. The other is the Irukandji which are small and transparent which makes them impossible to see in the water and their sting can make you very ill. For this reason you will see signs warning about stingers and recommending the use of stinger suits if you go in the water.

Alternatively you can cool off in the water of Airlie Beach Lagoon which is stinger free, and also free for your wallet as well. Of course we chose to hang out here under the palm trees, although it was a bit hard to find a spot in the shade amongst all the visitors that had flocked here on a days rip from their cruise ship out in the bay.

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This statue is another sign of what can be found in the waters around here. This is a Dugong (sea cow) but unfortunately we didn't see one.

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We headed back to check into the hostel at around 5pm and hadn't realised that there would be a pool party in full swing right outside our door. Sleep was definitely out of the question!

The next morning we packed up to make sure we made it to the Oz Sail office to check in at 8am. The boat didn't actually leave for 3 hours so we had a bit of waiting around. We headed down to the Marina where we would be getting on board The Avatar, which would be our home for the next couple of days. The group started to gather and we were all fitted with our stingers suits that we would need to wear when snorkelling.

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The girls we had shared our dorm with had advised us to take plenty of sunscreen and make sure you had a hat as there is hardly any shade when out on the boat. Taking this onboard I got a new hat but the wide brim meant that I didn't see the pole going across above me that I was meant to duck under when getting on the boat. Instead I smacked my face right into it! Ouch!

Once on board we were assigned places to sleep, now just a warning to anyone considering this trip, it's not luxury and you basically sleep in a hole. This didn't bother us though :)

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There were 25 of us on the boat and as we left the Marina everyone introduced themselves, we were a group from all over the globe including Italy, America, Canada, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Germany and Sweden. We were introduced to the crew and Sammy took us through the safety of the boat.

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We got to know each other a bit better when we all took to the ropes to hoist the sail, sitting in a row one behind the other we had to work as a team to get it all the way up to the top.

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With sails in place we were soon racing for our Whitsunday adventure!

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The Whitsundays is made up of 74 islands and is so called because Captain Cook discovered them on Whitsunday. However those who have worked out the timings say that he didn't actually arrive on a Sunday at all but the Monday! This used to be part of mainland Australia but as the water levels rose they became the islands that we see today. As they used to be part of the mainland all the normal Austrlian animals used to live on them, however over the years all the mammals have been hunted to extinction on these islands as groups of hunters came here to catch the isolated wildlife. One form of hunting was to start a fire at one end of the island which would drive the animals into the path of the rest of the hunting party. Today the islands mainly have birds, insects and reptiles on them. We were more excited though about what we might be able to see under the water as the islands are located in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.

Our first stop would be a a bush walk up to a lookout point over the islands.

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Back on the boat we doned out stinger suits headed to the first snorkelling stop of the trip.

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This snorkelling site was a bit disappointing as there wasn't a lot to see and visibility wasn't great but we all enjoyed cooling off in the water. The captain found a spot for us to anchor for the night and we had a great dinner under the most incredible starry sky.

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Fish were attracted to the lights on the boat after the sun went down and we soon had some large shadows looming underneath. Enticed in with some bread we could see that they were huge Bat Fish and we spent ages watching them swim near the surface. Some people tried to catch squid but no one had any luck. Most of us chose to sleep out under the stars on deck.

We were up with the sun the next day to make our way to the famous Whitehaven beach, know to be one of the best beaches in the world! One of the reasons for this is that its sand is made from silica and so is very fine and white.

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The view from the lookout point was spectacular...

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You could even make out the shapes of stingrays in the shallow water from the lookout point...and we couldn't wait to get down on the white sand

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For the next 3 hours we did a lot of this...

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As well as making the most of the exfoliating properties of the silica sand, with the warm water in the shallows it was like being at a spa. I don't think anyone tried cleaning their teeth with it though, apparently its good for that but don't rub too hard or it will take the enamel off!

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One thing to note about Whitehaven beach is that the tide comes in very quickly, every so often you ll witness the bag dash as people realise that the beach they left their bag on is disappearing! Funny to watch, think we did it ourselves about 3 times!

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Needless to say after all that sun naps were needed before our next snorkelling stop.

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We did two snorkelling stops that afternoon and they were much better than the one the day before with colourful fish. We even got to snorkel with some huge giant travely and wrasse fish which was cool.

Another great day! It had been an awesome bonus to our adventures :)

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Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 00:52 Archived in Australia

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