Trips from Airlie Beach to GBR islands

Feb 6th, 2004, 08:32 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4
Trips from Airlie Beach to GBR islands

hello there ! As part of our 'gap' 5 1/2 weeks ;-) husband and I are hoping to camp around airlie beach for perhaps a week or more 7 march onwards and then go out to islands for snorkelling -amongst other activities.
Will it be easy just to turn up for ferries to the islands?
Any tips would be great.Thanks.
If we wanted to camp on Hook island or Long island i gather you need a permit can we get that locally?
We have read all the scary stories about stingers etc and my husband has bought a long wet suit and hood ! do most people wear these stinger suits we have heard of??
lilredfox is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 09:53 AM
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Hello Lilredfox,

According to this website

the following islands have tourist facilities on them, and are not part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park:

*Daydream Island
*Hamilton Island
*Hayman Island
*Hook Island
*Lindeman Island
*Long Island
*South Molle

My understanding is that one does not need a permit to stay on the above mentioned 7 islands.

Here are a couple of ferry companies operating between Shute Harbour and the islands that have tourist accommodations on them:

These particular ferries, found through a Google search for FERRY + "WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS," depart from Shute Harbour rather than Airlie Beach. Shute Harbour and Airlie Beach are something like a ten minute drive from each other, and there is a land shuttle service connecting the two.

There very possibly are ferries that depart for the islands from Airlie Beach too, but I just didn't have the patience to Google that much.

When you refer to the GBR islands, just be aware that, while some of the Whitsunday Islands have pleasant little coral reefs around them, they are not part of the so called Outer Reef. If one wants to see the GBR at its best, it's preferable to include a boat trip to the Outer Reef. Boats go out to the Outer Reef from the mainland and from the tourist accommodations on the Whitsunday Islands on a daily basis (but trips are dependent on weather). If I were you, I would not book an Outer Reef boat trip ahead of my visit to Australia. I would do it only a day or so before I wanted to do the trip, as one needs to monitor weather conditions and, if necessary, wait a day or two.

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 09:57 AM
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By the way, Lilredfox, if you can afford the splurge, seeing the GBR from a small plane that takes off from Airlie Beach is a very, very special experience.

But, if you can only afford one way of seeing the GBR, it's better to actually swim in it (snorkel or scuba dive).
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 10:05 AM
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Arghhhhh! I see I may have appeared to be ignoring your question about stingers. I wasn't ignoring your question. Rather, I don't know the answer to it. We went out to the Outer Reef from Port Douglas in Far North Queensland in July, and we went on a cruise amongst the Whitsunday Islands in September, so stingers weren't an issue on either occasion.

From what I've heard, there are no stingers in the Outer Reef, as they don't live that far out at sea. My understanding is that some popular Queensland beaches have stinger nets during the stinger season. Apparently if one swims within the nets, one is pretty safe from stingers.

If you do a word search here at Fodors, you'll find old threads in which this matter has been discussed very thoroughly.

As has been mentioned in another thread about scary Australian stuff, the biggest thing to be cautious about in Australia is the sun!!! If nothing else, your husband's long wet suit probably will provide him with protection in that regard.

Anyway, someone who actually knows about stingers may come along and answer your question here.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 6th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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Hi Lilredfox - there are netted areas on SOME beaches in Northern Q'ld and these are designed to protect from box jelly fish, which are the most lethal. A much smaller jellyfish, the irukandji, which was until a couple of years ago considered relatively harmless, has been responsible for 2 deaths and one of these was at Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays - the other at Low Isles off Port Douglas. apparently both victims had existing medical conditions which made them more vulnerable. It is generally considered that the actual GBR is stinger-free - they are coastal breeders - one of their natural predators is the turtle.
One theory goes that the increase of feral pigs which eat the turtle eggs has helped caused the proliferation of the stingers - the older people of Cairns area tell me they used to swim all year round from all the beaches with no problems.
pat_woolford is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:34 PM
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We flew into Proserpine in June a few years ago and were pleased to find heaps of cheap standby deals in Airlie Beach to the islands. We ended up choosing South Molle Is which was less than half the price of the travel agent brochures. Ferries run like buses, you can pick up a timetable when you arrive, catch a bus to Shute Harbour and hop on a ferry. To give you an idea, South Molle was about 20 mins by boat, passing Daydream along the way. Airlie Beach does not a very good beach but does have a fairly new man-made lagoon swimming area which is open-air and free to all. Airlie is backpacker heaven, full of tour desks flogging cheap day trips to the islands, internet cafes etc. I read the other day that Hook Island has gone into receivership and is going to be reinvented as a more upmarket eco-friendly resort so it may be closed. Long Island has a few different resorts on it, some more basic than others. We had no problem with stingers but it would pay to read up on them in something like the Lonely Planet Queensland book. Do be very careful of the sun, you can get burnt in 10 mins here, the sun is much stronger than in other parts of the world. Wear a hat, drink lots of water and wear sunscreen.
Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you think I could help more.
KayF is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 03:16 AM
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Gosh you are such helpful folks out there THANK YOU lots of very handy info which i am def bearing in mind.
still fine tuning the trip which also includes NZ, and i have to say WE ARE GETTING REALLY EXCITED looking forward to meeting all the friendly people and to enjoying our adventure downunder to the full.
lilredfox is offline  
Feb 19th, 2004, 01:24 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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I just took a month long trip to Australia from December-January. answer your question, YES people wear those suits during the stinger season. In fact, we were not permitted in the water without them. From Port Douglas, we did a snorkeling/diving trip to the reef and the trip operator handed out suits to everyone. We also traveled a bit further south and did a 3 day sailing/snorkeling trip in the Whitsunday Islands. Every single person on our boat wore a suit and hood in the water, and we did see a number of stingers...although I am not sure if they were the deadly ones.

Keep in mind that almost all of the tour operators will give you the suits as part of your sailing/snorkeling/diving package so it is not necessary to buy your own.

However in hindsight, I would have rather brought my own suit as the ones they give you smell awful.

I am not sure if there are still problems with the stingers in March, but if there are, I am sure you will be advised to wear a suit.
mm93 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2004, 01:59 PM
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Yes, I'm afraid the stingers are still around in March - they pack their little bags and leave around April-May -only to return in October. I wouldn't even consider a reef operator who doesn't supply a lycra body suit - smelly or not, although a full wetsuit is pretty safe. Some people wear panty-hose, on the bottom half, at least. As mentioned about a million times on these postings, the most dangerous element is the sun, so a suit will give you that added protection.
pat_woolford is offline  

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