It had been over 10 years since I last visited the Whitsundays and 15 years since I sold Ocean Rafting to Jan and Peter Claxton, but (the week before last) my daughter Amber (now 16) and I returned.
She was a baby when we left so it was essentially a new beginning for her.
First impressions for me as we drove into Cannonvale, on the other hand, were of confusion, since so much has changed.
As we continued through Airlie a sense of familiarity returned, until we reached Port of Airlie which has risen like a mirage from the mudflats. A lot can happen in a decade! Onward to Shute and I must say I breathed a sigh of relief to see this pristine natural harbour remains unspoilt.
Although I supported having at least one upgraded marina, and think the development of both Abell Point and Port of Airlie are very tasteful, I sincerely hope Shute remains the natural jewel in the crown for eons to come.
Thanks to the generosity of the Claxtons, a day on the water with Ocean Rafting left us feeling like locals again, and it was wonderful to catch up with other good friends long neglected.
We drove back to the Sunshine Coast secure in the knowledge that the Whitsundays is still one of the most beautiful places on earth. Sarah Pye (Grant) Sippy Downs Past owner of Ocean Rafting