I only went with one bus company the entire time going through OZ, and that was McCafferty's. Taking out of account smelly people (remember the old lady Micky?), which you can never control, McCafferty's was excellent. It is fairly inexpensive, and I always took overnight buses, so that I wouldn't waste any time. I would wake up in the place where I wanted to be. Quite perfect.
The buses were clean, well-driven, and had movies to boot.
I even got to relive some of my European trip because of a movie that they showed. I Spy, the movie with Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson was filmed in Budapest. I had seen the movie before I left, but obviously, did not recognize the setting. But, now I get to watch it and go "I was there!!"
One of the great thrills about traveling, I think.
What about you Micky? ;-)
Unless you are a really good swimmer, you will need some type of boat to reach Whitehaven Beach and South Molle Island Resort. The company I booked through was Koalas in Airlie Beach. Not only did they provide accommodation in Airlie Beach prior to and after the sailing, but they sold the entire sailing package, as well.
The Pride of Airlie is a luxury sailing catamaran, and is a great way to get around the islands. The boat holds about 20-25 people, maybe less, I can't remember; but no more. So, you get to make some good friends and party buddies for the nights on South Molle.
The British Defender sure treated us right. Definately the way to see th Whitsundays. She costs a little more but is well worth it. Here she is from a far when our shore boat stopped working and we drifted out to see. Luckily we were rescued by another boat! Close call!
We took Fantasea Cruises from Hamilton Island airport to Shute Harbour (a town next to Airlie Beach) and return. They are quick and easy but a bit pricy (about $35 per trip).
Fantasea also does trips to the Great Barrier Reef and some other areas of the Whitsunday Islands...definitely worth doing if you are staying at one of the islands or Airlie Beach.
There are many other companies who also do trips like this but we only used Fantasea and you will see them advertised almost everywhere you go.
The bus trip is about 8 hours and stops in Tully and then Mission beach for lunch. In Townsville we changed coaches and on to Airlie beach, we arrived in Airlie at about 7pm so it is worth booking your first nights accommodation ahead of time.
From Airlie to the Whitsunday Islands there is only one way to travel, by boat, and the best of these is the Whitehaven Express.
Now capable of 23 knots this means you get more time over the reef and all the other wonderful places that we visited, take a peek at their website because one of the places you can visit is Hill Inlet, used in all the holiday ads on TV this is one of the most beautiful views in the world.
All companies offer different types of packages, some party boats where you don't do any work, just lie back sunbath and drink, the historical tall ships, I wanted to do some work so went on a racing ship, called The Southern Cross, which competed in the Americas Cup and won the Louis Vutton Cup, Prince Philip also sailed on the boat!
Yes it was a little old and leaky but you are on a boat. It has a small toilet and cold water sink with a shower attachment, but to conserve water they don't really recomend long showers, I waited till I was back on dry land. Max. number of 'guests' are 14. They have a few double berths, you can also pay extra if you want to dive the reef. The food was great, we never went hungry, bring your own alcohol.
I wrote a diary on my main Whitsunday's page.
We flew from Mt Gambier to Melbourne, then Melbourne to Hamilton Island, then ferried it to Long Island. On the way, we dropped off people at lots of the islands, so it was a good way to see the area in a short time!
The only way to get to the Whitsundays is by boat (or perhaps private plane or helicopter), and I would by far prefer a sail boat, because it brings a little something to the experience. You should, however, choose company and vessel carefully, since some are party boats, while others are very calm. I would probably avoid the bigger vessels in both cases. Too many passengers is never a good thing.
We hired a 40 foot catamaran through Cumberland Charter Yachts from Airlie Beach to travel around the Whitsunday Islands.
These guys have plenty of different sized boats to suit your travel plans and budgets. They also have a fantastic web site to help plan your trip from budget through to travel routes.
The girls in the office were all very helpful and made our trip very easy to organise. The web site makes everything so easy too!
There are many trips to and around the Whitsunday Islands from Shute Harbour. The hostels in Airlie Beach can help you find the trip that suits you best.
This unusual rock formaton is called The Logs and it marks the entrance to Turtle Bay where we had a brief swim over some reef on our wedding day.
To appreciate just how small and beautifull the community of Airlie Beach really is take a helicopter ride from Cannovale airfield (just around the corner fron Airlie)