A wonderful way to explore the 74 Whitsunday islands is with Tall Ship Adventures in one of their three classic vessels. Imagine sun-filled days, dropping anchor in a peaceful spot which you can lie back and enjoy … or dive or snorkel, beachcomb or bushwalk. It's all up to you.
The adventure begins at Airlie Beach as you head out in an eco-accredited tall ship for an overnight stay.
The 26 metre Defender is Australia's oldest island trader and the largest timber tall ship in the Whitsundays. Its colourful history spans more than 100 years. It was built in Kincumber in 1896 and features a magnificent raking clipper bow, with an elliptical stern and beautiful lines. It's one of the prettiest boats afloat.
In the late 1800s, Australian trading ketches were renowned worldwide for their speed, manoeuvrability and the hardiness of the people who sailed them. They provided communication and vital trade between the states and colonies. Defender's legendary status came from her speed and capacity.
Everyone pitches in to ready the ship to take you on the romantic adventure. Three days and two nights of sailing passengers choose whether they prefer to sleep on board in shared accommodation or in a twin-share tent on a deserted shore.
There's plenty of involvement. You can learn to sail. There are no winches or modern labour-saving gadgets the crew learns in the old way. Also to be enjoyed are guided bushwalks, island exploring and snorkelling.
At Nara Inlet, the volcanic origin of the islands can be seen by the rock formation. Erosion caused by wind and water is obvious in varying colours.
Stunted pandanus palms struggle for existence in the rocks. They were important to Aboriginal people who used the leaves for weaving and shelter and the nuts for food. Just before reaching the Cave boardwalk you will see masses of maidenhair fern and the blue flowers of scurvy weed used by early seafarers and explorers to provide the vitamin C lacking from their diets.
The cave walls have Aboriginal paintings, which are probably 500 years old. The shelter itself may have been used 2500 years ago. There are seven art sites in Nara Inlet, not all easily accessible. The boardwalk was built to protect them.
You will see green tree ant nests. Their symbiotic relationship with butterfly larvae allows them to sew leaves together for their nests. They have a strong citrus aroma and taste and were used by Aboriginals for medicinal purposes.
Queensland's Whitsunday Islands.
Tall Ship two-night packages start at $469 per person and include twin-share accommodation, all meals, linen and snorkelling equipment. They run year round.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
Tall Ship Adventure Sailing
PO Box 407
Ph: 1800 359 554; (07) 4948 2350
Fax: (07) 4948 2352