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Leah Down Under

tropical queensland

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 8 June 2009 | Views [774]

Last week, I finally made it over to Australia's lovely east coast. After eight months of being in Western Australia, it was fantastic to see more of this expansive nation. Queensland, Oz's northeastern state, was our first stop. We started in the delightful harbor town of Airlie Beach (a major stop on the Australian backpackers' circuit and home to some amazing yachts), where we spent one night before jumping on our home for three days, the former racing sailboat "Freight Train." Eighteen passengers and three crew made for some cramped condtions below deck, but the views of the 74 Whitsunday islands were pretty amazing when we had a break from the clouds and rain. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not smile down on us for most of the trip, but we had enough blue sky to see how amazingly beautiful the Whitsundays are. They sit between the Queensland coast and the outer reef in the Great Barrier Reef marine park. All but about eight of the islands are uninhabited (those eight have resorts on them), and the biggest of the isles, Whitsunday Island, boasts the famous Whitehaven Beach, a seven-kilometer stretch of incredibly white silica sand that has been a location of films, including "Fool's Gold" with Matthew McConaughey (bad movie, but if you've seen it you know there is some wonderful scenery). The snorkeling was great...lots of colorful fish and a big turtle enjoying a swim.

After the Whitsundays, we headed south to Brisbane, where we spent one night en route to Noosa, a resort town on the Sunshine Coast (the 70-mile stretch of Pacific Ocean beaches and holiday towns north of Brisbane). While Airlie Beach catered to backpackers and offered all kinds of inexpensive accommodation and drink deals, Noosa was the opposite. Both are gorgeous places with cute main streets and a laid-back beach vibe, but Noosa is more sophisticated. Lots of gourmet restaurants and upscale shopping to be found, as well as Noosa National Park, which is right on the coast and has great views along the coastal path (from what we could see through the clouds...again, we had rain). Noosa is a big surfing spot, and longboarders abound.

See the "queensland" gallery for pics and more details. And then, on to Melbourne...



Tags: airlie beach, australia, beach, noosa national park, pacific ocean, queensland, sailing, whitsundays


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