Life's a beach at Airlie.
Non-stop fun at Airlie.
Welcome to the gateway of the Great Barrier Reef, a small yet lively town attracting fishermen, divers, partygoers and sun lovers.
Airlie Beach is pretty much in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. It is a small but very lively town and totally revolves around tourism. It attracts jet skiers, parasailers, skydivers, scuba divers, golfers, island hoppers, bushwalkers, eco tourists, deep-sea fishermen, whale watchers and day-trippers.
There is a wildlife park with a large collection of Australian mammals, birds and reptiles, and there are tours through the rainforest areas of the Conway National Park. Brandy Creek Trail Rides have three-hour rides from Airlie Beach to Proserpine.
Every night in Airlie is like a Saturday. The main street, Shute Harbour Road, is lined with restaurants, bars and clubs and there are plenty of fun competitions to enter.
When day breaks, party-goers head to the beach for a recovery swim, and those who want to go to the reef visit Col Payton at Australian Bluewater Charters.
Col started his business about five years ago and has access to more than 200 boats all around the country, as well as in New Zealand. They range from five to 35 metres.
He operates: bare boat charters; crewed adventure charters that spend three days cruising around the islands and the outer reef; 5-star, fully crewed luxury yachts; diving trips around the Whitsundays, and fishing charters.
Paw Paw is a general purpose Scimitar, with an accent on fishing. It comfortably sleeps eight and cruises along at about 17 knots. It is equipped with high-tech navigational gear and has lots of refrigeration to hold what you catch! It also has full game-fishing rods, hand rods and lines and spinning gear.
The 60km trip to the outer reef takes around two-and-a-half hours, and on the way, you will pass Hayman Island, the top of Hook Island, South Molle and North Molle Islands and Daydream Island.
The fishing starts around Bait Reef and Triangle Reef. You can walk around the reefs and see some rather amazing marine life, but where you fish is between 15 and 20m deep. The average depth of the Whitsunday passage is 75m!
The most common fish are red emperor and coral trout, but you will come across trevally, enormous cod, Spanish mackerel, shark and billfish.
There are size and bag limits as to what you can catch, and there are some zones in which fishing is prohibited.