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best city to get to the reef and hotel recommendations

best city to get to the reef and hotel recommendations

Old Jan 17th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
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best city to get to the reef and hotel recommendations

I am traveling to Australia for work and am hoping to have some time to get from Sydney up to Queensland to tour the Reef. From what I have seen, it looks as though flying into Townsville is the most direct flight, or connecting in Brisbane to get to Hamilton Island. Is 3-4 days enough? We don't scuba but would like the chance to snorkel and perhaps visit some beaches and nature walks. Everything looks beautiful to me so any thoughts or things to avoid would be much appreciated!
kak113 is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2007, 03:52 PM
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Hello, my family and I just returned from Australia. We stayed at Airlie Beach, Whitsunday's on the main land. We stayed at the Coral Reef Resort which is a 10 minute drive to Shute Harbour. From there you could stay on Hamilton Island. The cruises leave for Hardy Reef from there as well. It's a 2 and half hour trip out to the reef including the stops to pick up passengers on Daydream Island and Hamilton Island, if you stay on the main land. We used Fantasea and found them to be a pleasant and fun trip. If I were you I'd stay on Hamilton Island. This a upscale island where you rent buggy's (golf carts) and drive around. We didn't have much time to explore but I got the impression this is a very posh island with nice beaches. The trip to the rreef would be shorter for you if you stayed on Hamilton Island. Let me know if you have any other questions.
traveljunkie28 is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 10:08 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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I have basically the same question as kak113 and hope for more feedback from people who've been there. Would flying into Cairns be better than Townsville? Any advice is greatly appreciated!
einah235 is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Hi there,

Einah - when people say the 'reef' quite often (in fact usually) they do mean the northern barrier reef for which you would fly to Cairns.

But the GBR stretches all the way down the Queensland coast at least as far as Rockhampton - there are also islands like the wonderful Whitsundays, and further south still, Heron.

Having said that, it's where the reef is reasonably close to the mainland that you get most tourist activity - hence Cairns and surrounds. A lot may depend on what time of year you want to go; and what sort of experience you are after.

kak113 - if the whitsundays is where you're heading, you can also fly direct from Sydney to Proserpine with shuttle connex to Airlie Beach. Jetstar don't fly daily but their timings make it a particularly attractive option - departs Syd 1715; return leaves c.1900. So you would get 3 or 4 full days, and that is enough to make it worth doing, I reckon.

Personally I wouldn't stay on Hamilton Island or at Airlie Beach (except for the first night) - I'd take a 3 day 2 night boat trip (or 2 days 1 night). In fact I'm off to do just that early May - can't wait. Been once before and it was sublime.

But each to his own. You might not like being afloat!!

Happy planning.

fuzzylogic is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2007, 11:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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If you are more of a snorkeller and observer i would recommend Magnetic Island. It is not the over-run, wet t-shirt competition back packers oasis that you will find at Airlie, but a low-key tropical oasis that is easy (and cheap) to get to and stay at. Highlights include fantastic walks, gorgeous beaches, snorkelling that is an easy paddle off sure, a variety of accommodation and dining options and a jet ski tour around the whole island. As a Townsville resident I visit 'Maggie' often to get away from the weekly grind and it is heaven.
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Old Jan 28th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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fuzzylogic, what boat are you going out on? Do you know if they are supportive of first time divers? We need some diving experience (that is, if we get certified before going to Oz in October) before going on a liveaboard out of Cairns, and we were thinking of doing one with instruction, or at least help, out of Airlie Beach. Thanks.
Sally in Seattle
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Old Jan 28th, 2007, 04:05 PM
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Just a suggestion, if you decide to go out of Townsville, try to arrange your plans so you don't have to overnight there. We stayed a night there on the way to/from our flight out to Orpheus island and were underwhelmed.
Betsy is offline  
Old Jan 28th, 2007, 05:27 PM
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If you find Townsville unbearable for just one night, then overnight at Magnetic Island, although it deserves longer. It's only 25 minute ferry ride from Townsville.

Apart from attractions mentioned above by rotwyn, Magnetic Island is home to a large koala colony, easily spottable in wild, rock wallabies come down to beaches and the whole island teems with birdlife. A public bus will run around the island for a few dollars or rent an open Mini Moke.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2007, 03:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Sorry, can't help. I only snorkel. And as my trip will be a very short getaway I am restricted to boats leaving Wed or Thurs.

I have a shortlist (being a research junkie) and to be honest I have factored out any that offer off the boat diving (snorkellers are always the poor relations) and any that offer "rendevous diving" for the same reason. I can just see it - 2 out of 14 pwoplw want to dive, so we all have to go somewhere suitable for them.

hmm. I won't book until much closer to the time but am leaning towards funsail because they run small boats with only 10 pax and not a scuba tank in sight.

There is a great website I found that might be useful for you too.


fuzzylogic is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2007, 10:26 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Thanks, fuzzy, for the website. Nice to meet another research junkie, and thanks for giving my obsession a name! If it were left up to me, I would be on your snorkel-only boat! But DH wants to try out diving and I won't be stuck on the surface listening to him go on and on about the wonders he's seen. Low of me, I know, but you don't know how he goes on! Besides, it might be fun and then I'd have missed it. Qualifying here in Seattle is a COLD endeavor which I am not looking forward to. Since we won't be doing much diving here, the reccs of boats in the Whitsundays are great for us to try out our new skills. Thanks!
Sally in Seattle, cold but sunny
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Old Mar 12th, 2007, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Sally and Fuzzy...have you decided on a boat tour of the Whitsundays. We are looking at the Fantasea Ammani but this seems a bit stuffy. They have a fairly good deal if you travel by the end of April. Please let know. We are trying very hard to finalize our 2 week trip. Everytime we read a new post we change what we are doing. We are now leaning towards including Whitsunday trip and Port Douglas.
raerose is offline  
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