Happy New Year OFF WITH A BANG
THE festive season has well and truly lived up to expectations in the Whitsundays as positive reports flood in from all corners of the community.
With the skies above Airlie Beach set alight on Thursday night, Whitsunday Reef Festival committee chairperson Margie Murphy said the New Year’s fireworks had seen a sparkle in every onlooker’s eye.
“There were a lot of families (for the 9pm fireworks), and at the midnight show a lot of party- goers came down to the foreshore to celebrate the New Year,” she said.
Whitsunday Transit sponsored the 9pm display, with operations manager Chris Harvey saying it was a chance for the business to give back.
“We believe it’s important for the community to have an opportunity to get together and celebrate the fun times that can be had in Airlie Beach,” he said.
Ms Murphy said the public had relished the chance for a bit of revelry.
“The beach was full. They were really appreciative of the display,” she said.
Whitsunday Police Station officer-in-charge Nathan Blain said the crowd had been on their best behaviour, despite numbers being up on previous years.
“The majority were very well-behaved,” he said.
“There were relatively few incidents for police during the night.
“Police had two public nuisance offences, two drug offences and a couple of Liquor Act offences as well, including two drink drivers.”
The period has also proven a boon for local business, according to Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce president Kevin Collins.
“It’s just been sensational,” he said.
“I can’t speak for every trader, but in our experience it’s been one of the best Christmases in many, many years.”
Mr Collins also expects the good times to continue.
“We’ve got the (Clipper Round the World Yacht Race) which will carry us through another week, and all reports are the Chinese New Year will be a big one,” he said.
At Hotel Group managing director Jeff Aquilina agreed there had been a definite upswing
“We’ve been heavily booked since Christmas Day across all of our hotels,” he said.
“It’s very positive to see the high demand and Airlie Beach fully booked.
“It’s probably our busiest year since pre-GFC, so it’s certainly better than last year and up on previous years.”
ON FIRE: Seeing in the New Year at Airlie Beach. Photo: Peter Carruthers
By Rory Sheavils