Hi everyone!

As part of my photography course, I have to track my development on a blog. The posts from September 2011 until January 2012 are part of a module called Project Management, for which I was required to work in a group of eight students to create an exhibition. The blog followed every step we took in order to create a successful gallery. The blog posts starting from September 2012 follow my final year on the course. I'll be documenting my research and analysis of my final year projects, as well as include notes of my Professional Practice unit - which prepares us for a range of post graduate options. Finally it also looks at a project called New Creatives, where I'll be working alongside an artists to help college students get more involved with art.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

East Coast Travels - Airlie Beach & Whitsunday

17th - 18th May

We left Rainbow Beach at 15.30 and arrived in Hervey Bay at about 17.30. We had a really luxurious bus with leather seats, chargers and wifi! We only had about 4 hours in Hervey Bay before continuing on to our 12 hour journey to Airlie Beach. There is a huge amount of space between Hervey Bay and Airlie Beach, but it isn’t really a popular part of the East Coast, in fact our bus to Airlie was completely full! The bus departed at 21.10 and arrived at 9.00, and was another amazing bus with wifi and chargers! I actually did a cheeky bit of online shopping while on the bus.. oops! But that just goes to show how great the internet on board is. The bus stopped about every three hours, letting people off the stretch their legs, buy food and use the toilets. There is a toilet on board the bus, but not many people use that. Halfway through the drive, I think in Rockhampton, we changed drivers and he drove all the way to Airlie. The bus is pretty comfortable and I had no trouble sleeping. I do have a neck pillow though, without that I wouldn’t be able to sleep! The seats go really far down, but not so far that it’s annoying for the person behind you. I was very worried about sleeping through my stop, but the drivers clearly let you know where you are and while driving through the town point out where the hostels are. Nearly everyone got off the bus in Airlie Beach, I think about 3 people continued their journey.

Airlie Beach is such a nice place and I wish we stayed longer! We made a bit of a mistake when booking our hotels and didn’t realise we’d spend one night on the bus! So we only have one night in Airlie... We arrived at 9, got checked into our hotel by 9.30 and left for our Whitsunday tour at 11. Thankfully I got enough sleep on the bus! We stayed at the Whitsunday Terraces Resort in a studio apartment. It was very close to the bus station and right in the town. The room was a decent size and comfortable. The only bad thing were the ants, but they were literally the smallest ants I’d ever seen so I wasn’t too bothered. The panorama above is was the view from our room.

We managed to find a half day Whitehaven Beach tour for $99 per person. We were picked up from our hotel at 11 in a small tour bus with about 8 people. A great size for a tour! We then, however, were dropped off at a boat terminal. We started to realise that we weren’t actually going on a tour like we had in Fraser Island, but just the normal transportation between the Whitsunday Islands. When the boat arrived TONS of people got on. We first stopped at Daydream Island where we had to switch to a different boat. We didn’t have any time to see Daydream Island, but it isn’t as daydreamy as it sounds. It was a huge spa resort. We then took the boat to Hamilton Island, which is where the airport is. It also had tons of really horrible looking hotels and houses along the side of the island. The photo to the left shows a part of Hamilton Island, another part of the island had huge skyscraper hotels. We then finally made our way to Whitehaven Beach which is considered one of the jewels of the Whitsundays.

We only arrived at Whitehaven Beach at 2.15, that’s 3 hours and 15 minutes after we were picked up. The stretch between Hamiton Island and Whitehaven Beach was absolutely terrifying. The waves were so rough that it made the boat bounce up and down on the waves giving you that falling feeling. Like when you’re at the top of a roller coaster about to go down, or turbulence in an airplane, but then 1000x worse. I’m probably the least adrenaline junky in the world so I hated the feeling and was literally close to tears.

Anyway, after the 3+ hours of traveling we had just under 2 hours to relax on the beach. As we were getting off the boat I saw a wild sea turtle! It was incredible and the highlight of the trip. It looked exactly like the ones in finding nemo!!

Whitehaven Beach was nice, but I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it. It was beautiful with super soft white sand and beautiful blue water. Something I noticed all the way back in Airlie is that the water is this stunning deep turquoise green colour. The water wasn’t too cold and was an AMAZING scrub for our feet we found out later. Unfortunately, our huge boat wasn’t the only boat visiting the beach. It was packed with tourists and didn’t seem like much of a jewel really. If we wanted to swim in the water we also had to wear stinger suits because of the jelly fish in the area, you don’t see that in the stunning photos online!

After spending less than 2 hours on the packed beach, we had another 3 hour journey back to our hotel. Instead of going around to the top of the island, we went back below the island, where the sea was even rougher. We did get a warning that the water would be “choppy” for about 8 minutes and then it would be smooth sailing. Those 8 minutes were probably the worst 8 minutes of our entire east coast travels. The boat bounced so high and the waves were even higher. I, again, was close to tears. It was horrible. Those 2 hours on Whitehaven beach were not worth it! The turtle was worth it though... Kind of.

We arrived back at our hotel after 6 and had a stroll through the town. It’s such a cute town and I wish we had another day to just spend in Airlie Beach! We left the next morning at 9.20. We had exactly 24 hours in Airlie Beach.

I think the reason I didn’t like the Whitsunday Islands and tour is because everything was different than I expected. Everything we saw was commercialised, full of tourists, and just seemed a bit like a money making machine, rather than beautiful calm nature and stunning beaches etc. Sometimes seeing photos of places online ruins the actual experience. My photos show that perfectly, I'm complaining about all the tourists and there is no one to be seen in these photos! That's just good photography... I know that the majority of the Whitsunday islands are uninhabited and there are hidden gems everywhere, but unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of that. The tour we had wasn’t much of a tour either. The boats we took seemed to be the local way of commuting between the islands, it wasn’t a specific tour. It was just all a bit disappointing, but if we hadn’t gone we would have regretted it.

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