Tuesday, 28 April 2015

TOD Tour, Day 76 - Airlie Beach Foreshore Ride

The foreshore walk at Airlie
After the excitement of yesterday and the after effects of sore muscles and sensory overload, we decided to stay an extra night at Airlie.

It was a deliberately laid back day.

After some writing in the morning, we rode the bikes along the foreshore walking track which extends from Cannonvale through to the new port of Airlie. It was a relaxed ride and afforded us some sensational views of the shallow waters of Pioneer Bay and their the aqua blue tone created by a sandy bottom so close to the surface. About half of the ride was along elevated board walks which have been constructed along the rocky faces of the coastline and have the beautiful scenes of the bay on one side and the ultra expensive crash pads of the rich and famous on the other. A vista which reveals the busy centre of Airlie Beach itself, opens up as you pass the Coral Sea Resort.

Sundowner stranded on Pigeon Reef
On such a sunny day, this place looks and feels like paradise but there are remnants of those times when nature paints the place otherwise. When cyclone Oswald tore a path through the Whitsundays in late January 2013, more than twenty boats were lost in what otherwise would have been safe anchorage in Paradise Bay. The three masted racing yacht Sundowner still lies stranded, half over on its port side on Pigeon Reef, a small reef right in the bay off Pigeon Island. The rusted hull of Venus-Portsmouth lies hard up against the outside of the wall which surrounds the Abel Point Marina, its deck house and upper portions demolished in pounding waves in front of an astonished crowd at a popular restaurant/bar above it.

We found a lock up space for the bikes at the Airlie Beach Lagoon, a man-made public swimming place which has been constructed to keep tourists out of the waters of Pioneer Bay. In the bay they will find marine stingers which can hospitalise a victim unless they are wearing a stinger suit and the patrons of the lagoon are definitely into wearing less, not more. This was beautiful people territory and placed right in town, less than 100m from beachwear boutiques, bars and chic food outlets, it is definitely the place to be seen. Its also a good place for families as it has been designed to suite all swimming abilities. Life guards are on duty in this perfectly manicured setting.

Sue went and looked for a new window whilst I sat with a coffee and a book trying not to attract too much attention.

Choosing a boat at Abel Point Marina
Our ride back included a stop at a cafe at the Abel Point Marina, where groups of golden brown bodies born after the mid 1980's were gathering for overnight cruises out through the calm waters of the Whitsunday Islands on expensive catamarans. Swimming, raving into the night and pickups is the intention. From the look of the few male hopefuls among the bevy of skin and occasional swimwear, the girls would have to get very drunk on a moonless night.

While there, we had another chance meeting with Chrissy and Ross, the young English couple whom we first met at Mt Morgan and then again at Cape Hillsborough. They were trying to decide on a cruise to the outer reefs, so naturally, we guided them toward the one we had enjoyed. It was the one highest on their shortlist anyway. This will likely be the last time we see them, as they are heading south after Airlie. Lovely couple.

A short swim back at our accommodation and then some housekeeping - balancing the books and finalising our planned return to Tamworth in a few weeks. Son Chris is opening in a new show - "Company" by Stephen Sondheim, with an all star cast - and we couldn't not be there for opening night. Flights and show tickets have been booked, the car and van will be safe in storage at Cairns and our other son, Sam, has offered us the use of a car while we are home for three days. All we have to do is decide on accommodation while we are there, but too many choices led us to the choice we are often making ... it can wait until another day!

Bed was a relief and sleep found quickly.

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