Epic Road Trip of Queensland - Part 3
Final part of the Epic Road Trip....
Magnetic Island to Hamilton Island
Magnetic Island 40 min ferry ride to Townsville
Townsville to Airlie Beach Port 272km 3 hours and 20 mins
Airlie Beach Port to Hamilton Island 1 hour and 15 mins
To get from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island you have to book with Whitsundays Cruising. It wasn’t cheap at $172 one way for four of us (even with my daughter being free (3 and under are free)). There is long-stay parking available at Port of Airlie, approx. $10 for every 24 hours. Be aware though, that you do need to arrive 30 minutes before boarding as they take your luggage and board everyone before departing right on schedule. The boat ride was 1 hour and 15 minutes of smooth sailing. We clearly got a good day, so we could sit inside or out. Tea and coffee are complimentary, and other snacks and drinks are available to purchase.
Hamilton Island is an island full of golf buggies, I left it too late to book one, but you really don’t need them as you can walk everywhere, and if you are not a walker, there are free busses, which run all the time. In any case, from the port to our accommodation, we had a free transfer service as we had booked directly with Hamilton Island, which I highly recommend. Not only do you get free transfers, but also free water sports equipment including snorkels, catamaran, kayaks and SUP boards. And if you have kids 12 and under, their meals and accommodation are free. Now that’s some motivation, eh?
We stayed at the Palm Bungalows. There are only 20, and they are laid out in a tidy row and separated by tropical gardens. The bungalows are set up like studios with a king-size bed, daybed, and roll-out for the 2nd child, kitchenette, and separate bathroom. Each bungalow has a front patio with a hammock, and a car spot for your golf buggy.
We stayed on Hamilton Island for 4 nights. Of course, we could definitely have stayed longer, but in the time we were there, we were able to see plenty, and still had time to relax and celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday. Hamilton Island is so well equipped, and there is so much to do from mini golf, golfing on a world-class golf course that is on another smaller island, ten pin bowling, a wildlife park, gym, tennis courts, and basketball rings, table tennis, kids club, water sports, numerous huge pools; one with a swim-up bar. None of the pools were heated, so it was a bit fresh at first, but you get used to it. And during the school holidays, there are extra activities for the kids, like free arts and crafts, and a movie night.
There are also 20km of hiking trails. We explored 4km of them up to Passage Peak, which is the highest peak in Hamilton Island with 360-degree views. It is well worth the hike up the gravel path and newly laid steps. Apart from amazing views there are also things of interest to be discovered along the way, like the giant chair, giant hammock and giant swing.
On top of all this you have plenty of options to explore outside of Hamilton Island. We opted for the cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef to Reef World Pontoon, which is a permanent pontoon next to the reef. We ended up doing it on our last day. We departed at 9am on a massive boat sailing with Whitsunday Cruises and it took 2 hours to get to the reef, which was 180km away. We were provided morning tea on the way out and talks about the day and optional extras. We then had 4 hours at the pontoon to snorkel, scuba dive, and enjoy the reef. My kids were not keen on snorkeling, so they were entertained by the below deck glass observatory area and the semi-submarine ride, which glides next to the reef with a guide pointing out all the fish and coral species. In these 4 hours you also get a delicious buffet lunch on the boat. Then it was 2 hours back to Hamilton Island with afternoon tea served, and just over another hour to Airlie Beach, where we stayed the night.
Airlie Beach to Noosa
1010km 11 hours and 40mins
We enjoyed Airlie Beach for one last time, wandering through the shops, sitting by the beach, and strolling through the Saturday morning market. We even had time for a quick swim in the huge lagoon pool just up from the beach. It is like the one in Cairns; all free and with patrolling lifeguards. In these northern towns, these lagoon pools provide a safe alternative to swimming at the beach between November to May, as it is a no-go zone with the stingers. After the cool dip we hit the road for our long journey back home, arriving home at midnight, glad to be back in our own beds and no more living out of a suitcase.