We were returning after a 20-year absence, full of good memories and expectation of a backpacker ambiance. The town disappointed but the caravan park was so full of promise, we booked an extra night on the spot.
More famous for Shute Harbour – the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, we drove down there to discover some major renovations and expansion.
Back in town, there were cafes and eateries that faced the beach but we found it hard to get a park, so continued on a little to the lagoon, where patrons are protected from stingers by the presence of nets and patrols, in a landscaped garden setting.
If you’re hanging out in Airlie Beach and not taking a cruise somewhere, this is a great free activity / venue and there are plenty of shops nearby for fast food, icecream, nicknacks or diversion. An abundance of chemists line the main street, for suncream, moisturizer, bags or whatever, and there is a supermarket in the heart of town with regular-priced goods.
We couldn’t wait to get back to the Big4 Tropical Eco Resort caravan park and the great pool, where we lazed in the cool water while watching the metallic starlings, with their red eyes, glossy plumage and hanging communal nesting habit.
Everyone kept asking if we were southerners, as they thought the water was cold, for August, but our beaches have water that’s straight off the Antarctic – that’s cold!
Many travellers don’t want to stay at Big4 parks, as they are geared for families and children and they no longer need those facilities. We, however, like to remenisce and support the places we were able to take our kids to. The facilities are always very clean and safe, too.
Safe travels. Take a hat and water and your swimming gear.