Hamilton Island is located in the heart of the Whitsunday Islands, about 900 kilometres north of Brisbane. Hamilton Island is a haven for Australians and a host of overseas visitors. Hamilton is the only Queensland Island with a modern jet airport. The whole Island is a world-class resort and includes a village of boutique shops, eight swimming pools and nine restaurants. At any one time the Island hosts two thousand people and approximately two hundred boats in its world-class marina. The Island includes a fifty acre fauna park featuring kangaroos and koalas. There are at least 150 species of birds, and eucalypt bush walks to mountain peaks with 360 degree Island views.
Hamilton Island has fringing coral reef with the best snorkelling and diving at Catseye Beach. You can also visit the Outer Reef by high-speed catamaran or helicopter. Hardy Reef is a particular spot for diving or reef viewing. Hamilton is a boating paradise. Make sure you visit Whitehaven Beach or enjoy a fantastic variety of sporting and leisure activities on the Island.
The first sight of Heron Island (only 72 km from Gladstone and described as "the ultimate reef experience") sends the spirits soaring, with a coral drop perched in an infinity of blue. Heron Island is a coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef and lies in the Tropic of Capricorn 70 kilometres north of Gladstone. Rated as one of the best diving locations on earth, the reef is practically at your doorstep. The island is also a sanctuary for thirty species of birds including 100,000 Black Noddy Terns and Reef Herons. Among the music of seabirds, tracks of turtles and multi-coloured clouds of fish, the feeling that you're a guest of nature itself is inescapable. Reef walking, snorkelling, diving, viewing underwater life from the coral submarine, watching the sun set over the ocean - you become part of a community caught up in the timeless evolution of the world's largest living thing - the Great Barrier Reef. The resort offers several standards of accommodation designed to suit all tastes and budgets.
Great Keppel Island
Great Keppel Island is just north of the Tropic of Capricorn and is the biggest member of the Keppel Island Family. Most of the island is natural bushland with 28 kilometres of beaches, wide stretches of sand and small secluded bays. For snorkelling or diving, apart from Clam Bay Shelving Beach and Monkey Point, there's nine great diving sites in Keppel Bay. Topside you can cruise from Great Keppel Island by yacht or launch to nearby deserted islands or enjoy catamarans, diving, sailboards, aqua bikes or surfing. You'll love the horse riding, netball, tennis and bushwalking. Great Keppel Island boasts one of the most comprehensive array of sports of any island. The Great Keppel Island Resort is one of Australia's best known and offers a choice of first class resort accommodation. There are four budget accommodation options on the island - Keppel Haven and Keppel Kampout, Keppel Lodge and the Great Keppel Island YHA.
Hayman Island is the most northerly of the Whitsunday Group and is situated about 28 kilometres north-east of Shute Harbour and about 900 kilometres north of Brisbane. A quiet mountainous continental island mainly covered with eucalypt and hoop pine, Hayman offers you a feast for your eyes on any one of many bushwalks. Hayman Island is one of the world's finest resorts. It is also the closest resort to the Great Barrier Reef with helicopter or cruiser transport giving guests the opportunity for coral viewing or diving. Big game fishermen come to Hayman in the months of September, October and November in search of Black Marlin. On a sparkling sunny day the colour of the water of Hayman's lagoon and Whitsunday Passage is simply stunning - the hues range from gold to turquoise to emerald to sapphire.
POPULATION: 17,000 (Shire) approximately
Airlie Beach is situated right on the coast, 24 kilometres from Proserpine. Explore the magical Whitsundays with day trips that offer sailing, trips to the outer Great Barrier Reef, snorkelling and coral viewing, fishing, rainforest walks, visits to a wildlife park, a chance to explore uninhabitated and resort islands, scenic flights and diving. Island and mainland accommodation is available, ranging from camping through to 5 star luxury resorts. During the sugar crushing season, sugar mill tours are conducted. There is a large variety of restaurants and shopping facilities. Overnight crewed sailing trips through the islands, and the largest Bareboat Charter Fleet in the world also operate from here giving you the chance to skipper your own boat. National Parks and Wildlife Service covers 74 islands and 50 000 hectares on the mainland. There are two marinas which together offer 300 berths. Markets are held Saturday mornings along the Airlie Beach esplanade. DISTANCE FROM BRISBANE (State Capital): 1,146km
It's peaceful, its beautiful, its natural, its the Sunshine Coast, one hours drive north of Brisbane. This stretch of coast with its pristine beaches, lush rainforests and national parks is surely a paradise.
Visit the breathtaking Glasshouse Mountains, travel by four wheel drive to Fraser Island , the largest sand island in the world, fossick for gold at Gympie or just relax and revitalise on the beach at the resort town of Noosa.
POPULATION: 2,500 approximately
Magnetic Island is the Island playground of Townsville featuring prominently in the profile of the city. The Island is only 20 minutes from the city centre by regular fast cat ferries. Two thirds of Magnetic Island is National Park with secluded but easily accessible bays and golden beaches. The Island has nearly 25 kilometres of walking tracks meandering through the protected national parks that are home to stands of eucalypts and wildlife including koalas.
It comprises self-contained accommodation as well as cheaper backpacker hostels. Boat trips around the Island, parasailing, Harley tours, watersports, golf, diving expeditions, great fishing, horse riding, and moke hire are all available, as well as, 166 different species of wildlife to observe.
DISTANCE FROM BRISBANE (State Capital): 1,438 km
Charters Towers POPULATION: 12,000 approximately
GENERAL INFORMATION: Charters Towers is 135 kilometres south-west of Townsville and has an altitude of 336 metres which ensures an excellent climate with comfortably cool nights. Known mostly for its heritage and goldmining history, this city once had a population of 27 000 and had the only Stock Exchange in the world to take 3 calls a day. Today the main industries are mining (mine tours are available) beef (homestay accommodation is available), education (five excellent, world recognised boarding schools) and tourism (a visit will explain why). Charters Towers is a perfect example of the real Australia, with brilliantly coloured sunsets, and cattle stations. The friendly atmosphere and heritage streetscape only add to its unique appeal. Numerous tranquil water spots and secluded lava caves ensures fascinating walks and great camping. DISTANCE FROM BRISBANE (State Capital): 1200 kilometres
Thursday Island POPULATION: 3,500 approximately GENERAL INFORMATION: Thursday Island, now identified as one of the last great frontiers in Australia, holds some great Australian history. In 1880 Thursday Island acted as the defence centre for Australia and evidence of this still exists in that the cannons still remain in place. It is located 35 kilometres north-west on the tip of Cape York. A majority of the residents are involved in some way with the Island's new three major industries of pearling, crayfishing and trochus. Thursday Island also has facilities such as a sporting complex for basketball and volleyball, an Olympic size swimming pool, a football oval, a primary and secondary school, a general hospital (outpatient), the Torres Strait Campus (Tafe) - part of James Cook University, ambulance and police services. ISTANCE FROM BRISBANE (State Capital): 3 040kms
Dunk Island is probably the best known of Australia's tropic isles. Dunk is part of the Family Group of Islands and is one of the most tropical on the Great Barrier Reef in terms of its vegetation. Dunk Island is about 160 kilometres north of Townsville and 120 kilometres south of Cairns. A birdwatcher's paradise, Dunk is also the home of the stunning Ulysses Butterfly which is the island's symbol. The Dunk Island Resort is one of the largest developments on any of the island and it is heavily promoted and very popular with southern visitors and overseas tourists. Most of the island however is national park. At Beaver Cay you can snorkel or view coral gardens and marine life from a glass-bottomed boat or semi-submersible craft. The scuba diving is fantastic. The fishing around the island is great, charter a boat to catch the big ones. Spanish Mackerel and Barracuda are plentiful as are Coral Trout, Sweet Lip and Trevally.
Lindeman Island is the most southerly island of the Whitsunday Group situated 32 kilometres from the coast. Lindeman Island is a national park and a spectacular setting for the new Club Med Resort. The Resort takes up only a tiny parts of the Island's 20 square kilometres, the rest is covered by nearly 20 kilometres of bushwalking tracks. These tracks are beautifully maintained and take you to the most scenic parts of the island. Stroll through Butterfly Valley or climb Mt Oldfield which is 212 metres above sea level and offers 360 degree views of Pentecost, Hamilton and Whitsunday Islands. The Island has seven glorious beaches with Gap Beach a fantastic location for snorkelling and oystering. The Resort caters for all activities including golf and has a very active nightlife with two restaurants and a nightclub. Humpback whales can often be seen from the shore, a sight not to be forgotten. Dolphins are also frequent visitors. On Lindeman, golden orchids grow on the mangroves at the end of the beach and over 90 species of birds dart through the trees. There are a number of tiny islands dotted around Lindeman all a short dinghy ride away and perfect for a day of personal paradise. Lindeman also has its own airstrip.
Over 120 kilometres long and an average of 15 kilometres wide, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It is remarkable for its 90 kilometres long surf beach, its chain of unique perched lakes, its vast sandblows and vegetation. There is prolific wildlife, mostly nocturnal, with possums, gliders, wallabies and dingoes considered to be the most pure strain in Australia. There are also wild horses, descendants of horses used last century to haul logs out of the forest. The variety of birdlife is immense and includes Australia's stork, the Jabiru. A unique species of tortoise can be found in many of the freshwater lakes. Access to Fraser Island is via vehicular barges, aircraft, cruise vessels, private boats or on commercial tours. Roads on Fraser Island are mainly sandy tracks which may only be negotiated by 4WD vehicles. Fraser Island is a constantly changing mosaic of rainforest, sand dunes, wildflower heaths, crystal lakes and streams, towering trees and cliffs of coloured sands. DISTANCE FROM BRISBANE (State Capital): 306kms (via Hervey Bay)
Hook is rugged and a true wilderness island. Hook Peak, at 459 metres, is the highest mountain on the Island. One of the few walking tracks leads to Butterfly Bay - named so because of its unique shape and the butterflies which swarm around its shores. Two magnificent five kilometre fjord-like inlets, Nara and Macona cut into the southern end of Hook Island to provide a spectacular anchorage for yachts. People refill their water tanks from the cascading waterfalls. The diversity of coral of the fringing reefs on the northern shores provide some of the best diving and snorkelling in the area. There is a low-key resort on the island, and camping is permitted at several sites around the Island. The observatory on Hook Island allows visitors to descend nine metres below the ocean to view coral, reef animals and plants in their own habitat. There are marine biologists on hand to explain the wonders of the reef.