BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, near Far North Queensland’s famed Airlie Beach, proves an ideal base for exploring this sensational part of Australia. SUE WHITE and tiny tot, Ollie, soak up the fun at this fantastic resort, taking day trips and island-hopping in paradise.
‘How best to tackle a trip to the Whitsundays with a toddler in tow?’ pondered SUE WHITE, as she prepared for a holiday adventure in this sensational part of Queensland with her tiny travel companion, Ollie.
Arriving at the BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, just a short drive out of Queensland’s Airlie Beach, I’m keenly aware that I’m not partaking in what many consider to be the ‘traditional’ Whitsunday Islands dream. First, I’m on the mainland, and second – well, this is a holiday park. Nonetheless, I can’t get rid of the feeling I’ve stepped into a resort of sorts. The holiday park known by locals as “frog park” (for the tiny green frogs which make it their home) features palm trees dotted atmospherically across the 14.5ha grounds; two waterslides in a lagoon-style pool area; a great playground including not one, but two jumping pillows (one solely for littlies); a Kids Club (with Toddler Time every Tuesday – thoughtfully timed to coincide with the poolside masseuse’s weekly schedule); outdoor movies; and mini golf – no wonder it has won a swag of tourism awards.
Reception doesn’t do much to dissolve the resort fantasy: the lobby looks deceptively hotel-like. In fact, when I discover how good the overall park setup is, I adjust our schedule to spend more time here rather than simply using it as a place to sleep.
Of course, there are plenty of competing priorities in the region.
We begin with an easy daytrip to Daydream Island. Just 35 minutes on a toddler-friendly boat (aka: one with plenty of enclosed areas), it’s a good choice. We freely avail ourselves of the facilities available to all guests (daytrippers or otherwise): we swim in the pool; check out the wallabies which hang out on the island’s coral beaches; and hand-feed the fish at Lover’s Cove, where my 22 month old seems unperturbed by the dozens of fish bumping into his reef sandal-enclosed feet. We also upgrade to a private tour of the island’s Living Reef, mostly for the chance to feed barramundi and stingrays. It’s a good choice – for the experience as well as the knowledge of the enthusiastic marine biologist leading the experience – and we make it (just) to the end of the 45-minute session with ‘ he- who-is-almost-two’ more entranced than impatient.
My philosophy when travelling with young kids is to follow each big day with something lower key, so our next day is spent solely at BIG4. It’s relaxing, enjoyable and would be almost effortless but for the 50 times I have to accompany my toddler up and down the waterslide (okay, it’s worth it – he’s delighted).
By day three we’re ready for Whitehaven Beach. Cruise Whitsundays (the same company y which transfers visitors between the islands and Airlie Beach) has a morning option which works well for young kids – Whitehaven is less crowded then, it’s cooler and the schedule coordinates better with a toddler’s lunch sleep. It’s low stress, given the boat is mostly enclosed (there are seated areas outside, but I pretend those don’t exist so I don’t have to choose between
“… Daydream Island … we swim in the pool; check out the wallabies which hang out on the island’s coral BEACHES; AND HAND-FEED THE fiSH AT LOVER’S COVE … “
Toddler on a plane
Wallabies on Daydream Island Previous page: Ollie on Whitehaven Beach Above: Waterslide fun at BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort Three Mermaids