A Travellerspoint blog

November 2017

Agnes Water

Bush Beach & Surf

semi-overcast 29 °C

A 5:30am departure from Airlie Beach began the long 10 hour drive to Agnes Water with a quick stop in Rockhampton for lunch. The Bruce Highway along this stretch was in poor condition with lots of delays for road works. We chose to stay at the Workmans Beach Campground in Agnes Water and what a good choice it was. The campground has around 30 sites set out in a bush setting right above Workmans Beach where you can swim or fish from the beach or rocks. There are flushing toilets, drinking water and a cold water outdoor shower, the campground is well maintained by the friendly rangers who collect the $9 each per night to stay here.

Agnes Water is the furthest place north where there is surf, above here the Great Barrier Reef blocks any swell from reaching the mainland. So I was very keen to get back on the board after 6 months of no surf. Unfortunately there was very little swell around while we were here but I did manage a surf in some small onshore waves at the main beach. The town of 1770 is just 6km down the road and we visited there one morning to check out the lovely little town and do some of the walks. Sadly a local fishing boat was recently lost at sea and later found washed up here with all but one of the five on board losing their lives. At the car park up at the headland locals have left tributes to the fisherman on a fallen tree. The tracks around the headland gave good views of the coast and the calm protected harbour with lots of yachts moored in its shelter.

There are plenty of walks you can do around Agnes Water with the best one being the Red Rock Trail which begins at Springs Beach and follows the coast around to Red Rock. The walk is 6km return and varies between walking along the beach and climbing up and around the headlands, giving great views along the coast. The beaches along the walk are breeding areas for green turtles and we came across a few nests that had been marked with tags and turtle tracks leading up to the nests. The end of the track is not well signed and we kept walking for another kilometre along a long steep beach to the next headland before realising we had gone past the end of the track. However we were thankful we did as not far from the end of the beach we came across a large green turtle which had just laid its eggs and was finishing covering them in sand. We watched in awe as she finished burying the eggs and then slowly made her way back down the beach and into the ocean. This was a very special experience and made the extra 2km of walking totally worthwhile.

We really loved Agnes Waters and the nearby 1770, both lovely beach side towns without the hustle and bustle of other coastal towns, definitely a place to return to in the future.

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Posted by OzJourney 23:21 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Airlie Beach

The Whitsundays

sunny 32 °C

It was a long drive from Mission Beach to Airlie Beach with a scary few minutes of driving during a very heavy tropical downpour just south of Ingham where visibility was poor and some aquaplaning making steering a straight line difficult. We stopped for a while in Townsville where we drove down to the Strand, parked the car and walked along the beachfront with its swimming lagoon, beach with stinger net deployed and nice grassy areas with plenty of eating establishments along the esplanade.

Airlie Beach is a nice town driven by tourism, with the Whitsundays the main focus. Cyclone Debbie which hit the town earlier in the year did quite a lot of damage here and even more so in nearby Shute Harbour where the devastation is very evident in the large number of houses and harbour buildings fenced off waiting to be repaired. We chose to stay at the Island Gateway Caravan Park which was just out of town. It is a well maintained park with grassy sites, a pool and good amenities. We were visited by friendly ducks and curious white cockatoos who moved through our camp looking for food scraps. The only negative was that we were bitten by midges one evening.

A boat trip out to the Whitsunday Islands is the reason most people come to Airlie Beach and we chose a tour with Ocean Rafting which have very fast craft with inflatable sides that get you out to the islands quickly giving you more time to take in the sights. Our first port of call was Whitehaven Beach which would have to be the most beautiful beach imaginable with its pure white fine silica sand and crystal clear water. A short bush walk up to the lookout at Hill Inlet gave great views down over Whitehaven Beach followed by a swim in the warm clear water. It was then back onto the boat for a short trip over to Champagne Bay where we went ashore for a couple of hours to explore the gorgeous beach and enjoy a buffet lunch. Champagne Bay is so named because when you walk in the water here the sand expels an enormous amount of bubbles which are produced by algae that live in the sand. Our time spent here on this beach away from the crowds at the beach where all the other tours go was a real highlight of our big lap, the beauty was incredible.

On our trip out to the islands we witnessed the result of a phenomenon that only occurs once a year on the night of the full moon in November on the Great Barrier Reef when the coral spawn occurs. All of the corals release their spawn into the ocean on this night where it then floats on the ocean currents and creates new coral where it settles. After our nice lunch we cruised back to Hook Island where we snorkeled at two separate dive sites. The first one was just a brief snorkel where the fish are attracted to the boat with food. Here lives a huge Maori wrasse called Gordon, a very large black trevally who had amazing speed and agility, some batfish and schools of smaller fish. The second site had much clearer water and a fairly large horseshoe shaped reef with coral bommies in the middle. Here we saw a turtle, some coral trout, some colourful clams and numerous other fish. The snorkeling on this trip was nothing compared to the outer barrier reef but was still worthwhile.

We spent one afternoon at the lagoon at Airlie Beach which was very popular with backpackers and a nice way to cool off on a hot day. Listening to some live music at a bar high up on the hill overlooking the harbour followed by dinner at The Rum Bar finished off our three day stay in Airlie Beach. We loved our time here even though it is a very busy place, the highlight being the boat cruise.

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Posted by OzJourney 23:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mission Beach

Green Meets Blue

sunny 30 °C

Leaving Cairns we headed south, stopping for apple pies again at Babinda then pushing on to Mission Beach where we set ourselves up at the council owned Cassowary Caravan Park. The facilities here were old but clean with beachfront camping and plenty of shade, all for $25 for a powered site. We spent 3 nights here and really enjoyed being able to swim in the ocean again after 5 months of traveling the top ends crocodile country. The marine stingers had not arrived yet and crocodiles don’t frequent the beach here as there are no mangroves for them to come ashore to breed and shelter in.

Mission Beach and the surrounding area is a beautiful lush green with rain forest and rolling green pastures dropping down to a stunning sandy beach with views out to Dunk Island and other nearby islands. Just up the road is Bingil Bay, a beautiful little town with a lovely beach and a small caravan park right on the water which we have added to our list of places to stay in the future. While checking out the fishermen trying their luck at the Clump Point jetty we saw a huge groper swimming around the pylons. The fish weren’t biting so the fishing rods stayed in the car.

One afternoon we ventured out to the nearby offshore islands on Fozzy’s Three Island Tour where you travel by boat and cruise by Dunk Island which has still not reopened after being ravaged by cyclone Yasi in 2011. The owners claimed the insurance payout, closed it down, and sold it to new owners who have refurbished most of it and look like reopening it in the near future. Next was Timana Island which was leased by a Melbourne family but the lease is up for renewal and is available to new occupants. Lastly we circumnavigated Bedarra Island which also copped a lot of damage from cyclone Yasi with one resort still closed and two others operating. Here we came ashore near the abandoned resort and spent some time exploring the beaches, swimming and snorkeling. We really enjoyed this tour, with the perfect weather, light winds and blue sky, and Kingy our skipper was a wealth of information on the islands and area in general.

Not far out of Mission Beach on our way to Airlie Beach we were stopped in our tracks by a cassowary with a chick wandering across the road and then five minutes later we were again stopped by another cassowary with three chicks in tow. We thought we had missed our chance of seeing a cassowary in the wild after not seeing any at Cape Tribulation but were rewarded with two encounters as we left cassowary coast. Mission Beach would be a great place to spend more time and enjoy it’s relaxed vibe and stunning scenery.

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Posted by OzJourney 23:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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