I love the Whitsundays

The rise of the Aussie Dollar...

Boathaven Resort - Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Well the Aussie Dollar is skyrocketing against the greenback, which seems impressive but not necessarily a good thing for the tourism industry.

For Australians, it makes overseas travel way more attractive, and as we have always been an exploring group of people, and this is causing a BOOM in international holiday bookings departing Australia.
For international visitors coming to OZ it makes Australia less attractrive as it is not the "deal" it used to be when the Aussie Dollar hovered around the .70 cent mark.

The backpacker market is feeling this as well, combined with the higher aussie dollar and the state of th UK economy, there is a sharp decrease in backpackers traveling to our region.

So as a hotelier you wonder if Aussies are going overseas and the international market is staying at home, who the heck is going to stay with us?

Well I am very happy that we are in a unique and amazing part of the world called the Whitsundays. Even though tourism will take a hit, and has taken a huge hit with the GFC in the last 24 months, the Whitsundays has stayed above other regions due to the fact that it is a truly beautiful and magical destination, and regardless of the state of the nation, the Whitsundays and it's islands will always draw visitors.  People are looking for something unique, value for money, and great service. The Whitsunday region generally covers all those request.
And since there are less travellers and more resorts, there are some really good deals to stay in the region and even the tour companies are offering specials during certain times of the year so the whole package becomes very well priced and definitly value for money.

So we say AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE...Oi, Oi, Oi  ...and before you decide to go overseas calculate the cost of the flights, the passports, and everything else you need to go to a different country and you may just find the best deal is in your back yard.
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Airlie Beach - Small town with a big personality.

Boathaven Resort - Sunday, August 15, 2010
I have written about Airlie Beach before and I am very passionate about this region and what it has to offer. However, I was a bit naive in thinking that all small towns have a wonderful vitality and quirkiness about them. We recently went on a road trip and stayed over night in a well known small town that is 3 times the size of Airlie Beach.We went out for dinner and had to drive around and around before we could find something that was open after 7:30 p.m. besides the local McDonalds or Red Rooster.  Of course the best option we found was the local pub and even though it was a bit run down and could use a lick of paint we were happy to find somewhere that had people in it. The pub had about 10 people at the bar and 6 people sitting around the dining tables. The waitress looked like she was trying to serve drinks at the MCG for a grand final crowd. She was seriously stressed about the number of patrons that had desended on the pub and our group of four just took that number up by 25%. 
I will admit the steak was good and everyone had a great meal and it was relatively inexpensive for what you received. But the atmosphere was shocking. Nobody was talking or laughing except for us (of course everyone was staring at our table). Nobody was playing pool or watching the games on the TV. They came to consume food and go home. After our meal we went for a walk down the street and everything was closed, including the cop shop. There were no cars on the road, no late night shops, no parks with bands playing, nothing.  So we went to the hotel/motel, which was now all closed up as well, and went to our rooms for the night.
While I was laying there in the motel I was thinking that our town is 1/3  this size and it seems like New York City compared to this town. Why is it so boring? Then it dawned on me,  it's because of the continual influx of tourist we get to the Whitsunday region that keeps our town vibrant and full of life. I know this should not be a lightbulb moment, I have always known we have some of the shops and services only because Airlie Beach is a tourist town, but it never dawned on me that other towns that are much bigger are so boring because they do not have tourist. I love living in a small town (most of the time) but I could only do it if it was a tourist town. The tourist are the reason we have a variety of restaurants to choose from that stay open to the late hours of the evening,  we have specialised shops with the latest fashions and gadgets on offer, we have free swimming lagoons, sailing clubs, festivals, and so much to do. The tourist are the reason the government gives us more money for infrastuctures that we need. The tourist visiting Airlie Beach is the reason we have all the beauty therapist, repair places, mechanics, and distributers of a variety of products. The needs from the Whitsunday Island resorts is the reason a lot of the suppliers, that us smaller operators on the mainland use, are here in the town. The locals lives are easier and more productive because we are a major tourist destination so we have services like taxi's and limo's. Services that a town of our size would not have if it was not for the tourist.
So I just want to thank all the tourist that visit Airlie Beach every year,  because you are the reason my favorite town in the Whitsundays is so great. 

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Big Game Fishing

Boathaven Resort - Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I used to really enjoy a day out game fishing around the Whitsunday Islands. I loved everything about it! Game fishing is an individual sport that requires the support of a team (if your serious). There could be four anglers on the boat and your all supporting each other but when that line pops off the outrigger and you hear that "zzzzz" of the line reeling out,  it's each man (or lady) for themselves.

That uncertainty of what's on the other end of the line is what I enjoy the most. Experienced fishermen can tell what it is by the feel from the rod, but every now & then everyone is surprised by the catch.Up here in the Whitsundays, it could be anything from Marlin, Spanish Mackerel, or even a yellow fin tuna. We are not as well known as Cairns for big game fishing but I can guarantee you will get plenty of action out the back of Hayman Island or out near the reef.  Heck, my husband even tagged a SMALL blue marlin just out of South Molle Island, only 15 minutes from the mainland. (okay when I say small I mean about 30 kg. We were teasing him the whole trip that he caught a newborn.) .

You might have noticed that when I started this blog I said I used to really enjoy it. Well the reason for this is that back then I was younger, no kids, and not trying to run a few businesses. I would really enjoy sitting back and trolling for hours waiting for the strike, not a care in the world and plenty of time to waste. Now if I don't catch anything within 1/2 hour I am over it. All I can think about is all the things I could be doing instead of just sitting here staring at the ocean. So the last 5 years I have not been real excited about going game fishing.  I do enjoy what we refer to as bottom bashing. Which is fishing for reef fish with a hand line. I like it because I have to think about it and it's soley up to me if it works or not (well me and the fish), and you can catch great fish for the table.  So my son and my husband will continue the tradition of being a good game fishing person, that was handed to me from my mum, and I will find other hobbies that spark my interest these days.

I do want to share with you a very funny fishing story that happened a few years ago. Damien & I were out on a mate's charter boat, Marlin Blue, and he had a few tourist on the boat as well. There were 6 of us all together including the skipper, Ken. Well one of the tourist was an englishman and he was a combination of arrogant and daft which is not a good mix, especially on a small boat with 6 strangers and lots of lethal weapons lying around. It was a slow day as far as fishing was going so Ken decided that he would stop out near The Cones and try and let the anglers catch a few little stripy on a small rod reel combo, to use for bait later on.  While Ken was reeling in a small bait fish, a large Spanish Mackerel came and took the bait fish and started giving Ken a good fight.  So Ken decide it would be a fun fight and he handed the small rod/reel combo to the Englishman as he was standing right behind Ken and had not stopped talking. So Ken thought letting him fight a spanish mackerel with a small rod/reel would wear him out a bit and shut him up.

Well let's just say it did not have the effect we wanted but oh my it was the funniest thing I have ever seen and I still chuckle whenever I think about it now. First of all he had reel turned the wrong way with his rod over the reel. When Ken asked if he would be more comfortable the other way around he snapped back and said to get out of his way. So we all backed up and let the expert go it alone.

After about 10 minutes of the Englishman reeling in the mackerel pretty easy, with the biggest grin on his face, he turned to one of the other tourist and said that he would be happy to offer lessons later on how to catch the big ones.  Then the mackerel turned on him and stripped his line to about 50% of what he had reeled in, in about 2 seconds. This guy was sweating and huffing and he almost went over the transom twice and slowly started to turn the fish and gain some line back.  The Englishman was pulling back so hard that I though the little rod would break before the line was going to.  He was actually doing good job of pulling and winding, pulling and winding and we could start to see off in the distance the mackerel having a little jump. Then all of a sudden the line got really easy to wind in, not easy like a line broke, but easy like the fish just gave up and was not putting up a fight. I looked at Ken, who was up on the fly bridge, with a confused look on my face and he mouthed the word Shark to me. In the mean time, the Englishman was reeling in the "fish" and proudly announcing to everyone how he had tamed the beast and that the mackerel met his match. Damien, Ken, and I were finding it hard not to burst out laughing because it would be really rude. The Englishman proudly wound up his "fish" to the boat and pulled up the line to show us his very large Mackerel HEAD minus one body.  The Englishman looked very startled and then proudly boast "I pulled so hard that I have pulled the head completely off the fish" at which everyone on board the boat bust out laughing, and proceeded to pat him on the back and told him to tell all his friends how he fought the fish so hard that he actually ripped the head off.
About 6 months later Ken received an e-mail from this guy. He asked Ken if he could look into something for him. The Englishman reckons his friend that is an avid fishermen doesn't believe he pulled the head off the fish and most likely a shark ate the body of the mackerel while he was reeling it in. Ken advised the man that his friend was just jealous and to continue to tell his amazing story to anyone who would listen.
For those that don't get the story - yes it was a shark and no the guy did not pull the head off a fish.
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Where is Airlie Beach?

Megan Taylor - Saturday, June 05, 2010
It's funny, I travel around the world and Australia and I am suprised about how few people know where the Whitsundays are and even fewer have ever heard of Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.
I transferred from New York to the Whitsundays about 13 years ago and I will admit I had no idea where I was going. I was born in Australia but raised in America for 90% of my life. When I decided to come home a head hunter found a job for me at a resort on the Whitsunday Islands.  Honestly, I thought they said the Great Bite and not the Great Barrier Reef and assumed, incorrectly, that I was off to Adelaide. It was only when I got the tickets that I noticed I was off to Queensland and after a bit of research I realised I was not near any major city or anywhere I had ever heard of. What got me excited was that whenever I mentioned,  where I was going "the Whitsundays" the response was always "oh your so lucky" or "that is the most beautiful spot in the world". I'll have to admit, when I flew in over Hamilton Island Airport and looked at my new home from the birds eye view of the plane, I was amazed, I could not speak, and I took a while to remember to breath. I thought this is what it is like to win the lottery, okay not the money, but the lets say the lifestyle lottery.
A few of the staff met me on the jetty and took me down to my new home. They were trying to ease me into the fact that island staff accommodation is not great and small but that I would get used to it after a while. When I got to the apartment I laughed. It was about the size of a studio apartment in New York and it had a private balcony overlooking the tip of the island out ot the Coral Sea. I told them this apartment, with a view of a brick wall or trash tip, in New York would cost me about $2000 + a month. I was very happy.
After a few weeks managing one of the islands I realised I needed to get my bank account set up, do some serious shopping, and it would be nice to get off the island for a while. Everyone told me I needed to go over to Airlie Beach, on the mainland, for a long weekend and get myself sorted out. Now, from what I assumed, Airlie Beach was were the island transfer boats were mored and the islands received their supplies from. I had no idea that this sleepy little supply town was actually a thriving cosmopolitan community that had resorts, backpacker hostils, clubs, restaurants, great shopping, and a huge amount of activities that we could not access from the islands. I was blown away and I was in love.  Six years later, 2 kids & a husband (yes it happens on islands) I left the islands and moved to the Whitsunday Coast and settled in Airlie Beach to start my own business.
In the 13 years since I first laid eyes on Airlie Beach, she has doubled in size (so have I..okay maybe not doubled but giving it a good shot) , she has boomed with luxurious apartments, 5 star resorts, private label fashion houses, B & B's, family friendly activities, a beautiful lagoon, and a variety more restaurants and cafe's.  Somehow, Airlie Beach has grown but never lost the feel of a small town. Everyone is friendly, there is plenty to do and see on the water and on land, you do not need a car, and there are plenty of places to sit back, relax, have a great glass of wine and watch the boats sail by.
So maybe it's a good thing that a lot of people do not know where Airlie Beach is or just assume the Whitsundays is all about the islands. But if you decide to come the the Whitsundays I would make sure that you include a stay in Airlie Beach and maybe you could will win the lifestyle lottery like I did.

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