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Australia: The Whitsundays

Written on: Monday May 5th, 2008

A journal entry from: Australasia

I closed out my final week in Australia with a trip to the Whitsundays.  Strangley enough the boat was named "Spank Me" for reasons I am not sure of.  The boat was a former racing ship in the US, now used to toat many young travelers like myself on 3 day and 3 night sailing cruises around the Whitsundays...a group of 74 islands (once mountains, but now flooded).


We set off in the evening of Monday with the usual getting to know the crew and shipmates.  Among us were 18 young travelers, and 4 crew.  There was a good mix of the world on this boat...French, Italian, German, Australian, New Zealand, Scottish, Swedish, American, English, Dutch...(the anglo world anyway).  Several of us first time divers were handed paperwork to sign our life away in the event that we drowned and therefore could not blame Spank Me.  The night continued with a spaghetti dinner, a beautiful sunset and casual drinking and conversation.


The next morning we approached our first destination, Whitehaven Beach.  The sands here are 98% silica, making it very soft to the touch.  The beach is a national park, because of it's coveted sands, although many foreign eyes would like to use the sands for their own profits.  The Japanese, for example, are interested in mining it thinking that there may be diamonds or some other gem beneath the surface, as I was told... if lightning strikes the sand it could turn into glass.


Taking advantage of these beutiful sands, we all treated ourselves to facials and full body scrub downs.  My face was smooth as a baby's bottom for the next 3 days!  Unfortunately from this destination, my sunglasses that i have had with me for the last 3 years were lost to the waters during my after soak.  Perhaps if the Japanese ever get to mine here they will find my precious treasures as well.  The island also afforded a beautiful lookout view and sightings of sand/reef sharks, rays, and good waters to swim in.


That afternoon we headed to luncheon bay where I took my first dive.  The four of us were given a brief over view of what to do, and headed down to the bottom of the ocean.  The dive was good, although my mask kept filling up with water, which was not making the otherwise interesting experience pleasurable.  I saw lots of cool fish, and views of the ocean I have not previously seen.  I also scraped my foot of coral on my way back to the boat.  This was not proving to be a good day.


That evening we moved on as we were to tackle the outer reef early the next morning.  We anchored at a calm point, and again enjoyed great food, great company and another amazing sunset. 


At 4:30 in the morning, the engines began to roar and the sails were hoisted for the 2 hour trip to the outer reef.  We had breakfast, then swam our way to the reef where we saw some amazing fish and coral and turtles.  A group of extra large fish came to visit us.  One kindly named Napoleon (or Shrek).  He was about 4 feet long and 2 1/2 feet tall and very skinny.  He was very friendly as well.


In the afternoon, we headed to fish bay where I chose not to go snorkeling, but was told that there were millions of fish in this bay.  Instead I did some dives off the boat and got stung by a couple jelly fish, then did some pull ups on the wet suit rack with the crew.  We stayed here for the night along with a few other boats, and again enjoyed a quick sunset and latenight merry making.  This story wouldn't be complete without mentioning that Nicolas, our resident Italian, would yell, "Shut upa your face-a" to the boats in the bay deciding to sing and dance the night away...however this was not the first or the last time we would here this phrase on the trip.


In the morning we headed to "turtle bay".  The crew did the best they could to make us think that we would see turtles in the water, but I think the spot was so named, more because the island was in the shape of a turtle.  The snorkeling wasn't the best here, but your always bound to see a few cool things you wouldn't see too many other places in the water.


From here we headed back toward our leaving point of Airlie Beach.  Before heading in to shore, we pulled a u-ey and raced past the Matador, which was designed to beat Spank Me.  We spanked 'em.


Pulling in to the docks was bitter sweet.  Everyone was just getting to know eachother and didn't want to leave.  However...the bed bugs had a hey-day with my ankles, legs, and arms, and respite from another night with them was more than needed.  Off the boat we all trudged to our respective hostels for a good shower and clean-up before dinner.  I left that night on a plane back to Sydney, as i was headed back to the airport the next afternoon for my return to the US.