WHITSUNDAY COAST & HINTERLAND
The Whitsunday Coast is a diverse and fascinating peninsula that stretches far to include isolated beach communities, inland regional centres and scenic hinterland.
A tropical concourse of sparkling sapphire waters and white sandy beaches, the Whitsunday Coast is one of Australia’s main tourist attractions.
Known to be the best place to explore both the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday’s 74 spectacular islands, the coast is also home to the party town of Airlie Beach that is packed with restaurants, bars, and clubs.
The Whitsunday peninsula coast and hinterland drive from Bowen in the north, with its eight spectacular beaches, Cedar Creek Falls with its remarkable cascades set in a natural rock amphitheatre and the secluded, wildlife-rich Hydeaway Bay are all within short distances of each other, and make for one of the most scenic drives this country offers.
Positioned at the top of the Whitsundays, Bowen visitors are treated to a truly authentic paradise.
Bowen has an exciting history; being the oldest town in North Queensland, established in 1861, several years ahead of Townsville and Mackay and is well-known as the birthplace of the Kensington Pride (Bowen Special) mango. Bowen is known for its varied industries; including fishing and agriculture.
The Whitsundays activities include diving and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, sailing the 74 Whitsunday islands, ocean rafting or flying over the islands.
Driving from Bowen south, there are a plethora of stops you can take in along the way. The Bruce Highway takes you towards Proserpine, however if you are looking to head off the beaten track before you get there, you should take a left onto Collinvale Road, then left again onto Dingo Beach Road, as the destinations you will find if you continue, will leave you breathless.
Hydeaway Bay is set on a long, white, sandy beach on a no-through road about 50 kilometres from Airlie Beach. The beach has five public access points and the nearest boat hire and ramp is just down the road at Dingo Beach. If you’re after peace and quiet, there’s no better place to find it than Hydeaway Bay. You might even be fortunate enough to see some dugong, dolphins, whales or turtles.
Proserpine, to the south-west of Hydeaway Bay is a great place to make a break if you are journeying down the Queensland coast. Restaurants, Cafes, Coffee shops and Food Outlets are a plenty, and nearby is Lake Proserpine and the Peter Faust Dam, home to some of the biggest barramundi you can catch.
Proserpine was established around 1890 just after the sugar mill was constructed and it experienced high growth in the early 1900s as the local sugar industry grew and began exporting raw sugar via the Proserpine Landing where it was sent to refineries. The township is floated by the Proserpine Co-operative Sugar Mill (Now Wilmar Sugar Mill), which processes the region’s 2,000,000+ tons of sugar cane each year for export.
Travelling by car through the Whitsundays wouldn’t be complete without venturing to Airlie Beach. The town is world-renowned as a party stop, and with its well-presented streetscape, and tourist driven economy, it’s a must visit place. Not only is it party central of the Whitsundays, it’s also the best access point for the main tourist islands like South Molle, Hamilton, Hook and Whitsunday Islands. If you’re planning on utilising some of the great available tours on your journey, Airlie Beach is the best spot to take them. Hiking, jet skiing, kayaking, ocean rafting and parasailing are all available from the one place.
Travelling out from Airlie Beach, you will benefit from visiting a little place called Conway Beach. Conway Beach is located 30 minutes from Airlie Beach, and is a popular spot for fishing and wind-powered sports such as kite surfing and land kiting. The two kilometre sandy stretch of Conway Beach is positioned at the mouth of the Proserpine River, and is an excellent location for catching mud crabs, barramundi, king and blue salmon, grunter, whiting, flathead and bream. Heading south towards Mackay there are a number of stop in towns that pay to visit, purely for the sake of their quaint beauty. Midge Point, St Helen’s Beach, Ball Bay, Cape Hillsborough National Park and Shoal Point are all noteworthy places to visit.
As you head into Mackay, you will notice art deco buildings, charming cafes and palm-tree lined streets that make the city quite unique. The Botanical Gardens, the Bluewater Trail and manmade Bluewater Lagoon are worth every minute you spend there. There are breweries, art galleries, museums, water-skiing and jet-skiing activities, and like every other place in the Whitsundays, there are pristine beaches.
Driving south from Mackay offers you options of a visit to the Hay Point Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, to see some of the biggest ships you will ever lay eyes on, shipping coal for export.
Further south lies the quaint sugar town of Sarina, which is located on Plane Creek, which flows into the Coral Sea, but most of the urban development is on the northern side of the creek, including the Sarina Sugar Mill In Sarina, the most memorable tourist attraction would have to be a large cane toad statue, called Buffy, that is situated in the town centre in honour of Sarina’s cane farming history.