Australia 2003 - Second trip to Queensland and the Barrier Reef

After Cape Trib we headed South to Cairns, but decided to detour via the Atherton Tablelands. This beautiful area is much higher and drier than the rainforest, with red earth and patches of forest with huge strangler Figs and waterfalls.
The first stop after Cairns was Townsville - which was not our favorite place, but did have beautiful sunsets as seen from Castle Hill high above town. From there it was another 4 hours drive to Airlie beach. Airlie basically only exists because of the yacht harbour - where all the boats head out to the Whitsunday islands. This was the plan - to find a racing yacht and get on it for 3 days and 2 nights. We were recommended Southern Cross Yachts, and found a good deal on a huge 83ft maxi yacht called Boomerang. These Maxi's are all ex racing yachts (America's cup/Syd-Hobart)
We got on board and set sail for the Whitsunday's. There were only 10 guests on board - so its was hard work winching and grinding sails up and down, but it was worth it as we got her tilted over at full speed. Each night we were dropped on a beach for snacks, then awesome dinner aboard. Each day we were taken to snorkeling spots, and I got the chance to dive. On the second day we went to Whitehaven beach - just awesome! Then some more great sailing. See where we went. All too soon we were back in Airlie - so from there it was up to Mission beach just South of Cairns. Very pretty and has beautiful Dunk island offshore - which we visited... And just like that, we were back in Cairns saying goodbye...Northern Queensland is beautiful - What are you still doing sitting there??
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The deep red earth near Yungaburra in the Tablelands
This huge Strangler fig at Yungaburra is called Cathedral Fig - and you can see why.
Beautiful Millaa Millaa falls at the bottom of the Tablelands
The view of the Tablelands while heading back to Cairns
The Sunset from Castle Hill in Townsville - only spent one night here
The moon rise from castle hill a a few minutes later. You can see the reef from here
Our yacht Boomerang moored at Airlie beach
Underway on the first day - took a while to get used to the leaning over - but it was good fun.
first night on Boomerang - dropped off at Chalkies beach
The sunset from Chalkies beach
Under sail again heading to Whitsunday Island
Wendy, Meg, Nico and the rest of the guests under sail
Skipper Damien (damo) gives us each a turn at the wheel
This is the view over whitehaven Beach, looking just like a post card
The water was this amazing colour, with a huge sandbank - Hill inlet
The guests - Peter, Tom, Marie, Helen, Nico, Meg, Grant, Clements - at the lookout.
Chilling out on Boomerang
There were some big storms while we were at sea - but none that came close - they made for good sunsets though
The beautiful beach in Dunk Island - near mission beach
These huge palms were seen on the Cassowary walk at Mission beach


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