Outer Edge - - Contents -

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.

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