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While still proud of its success as a backpacker icon, Airlie Beach, the capital of the Whitsundays, has come of age. It is an evolution that is turning this tropical town into a coveted all-around visitor destination with a healthy economic base. If you are in the area you really will want to check out one of the Whitsundays tours that are on offer.

Driving from nearby Proserpine airport into town along Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach looks much the same as always. A mecca for backpackers of all ages on their pilgrimage north. But once you sight brilliant blue as the road sweeps past the new-look Abel Point Marina, you sense that there is something different, something fresh. While some visitors choose to fly directly to the offshore islands, others prefer a mainland base like Airlie where they can enjoy some of the hundreds of day tours, sailing vacations, and reef and island experiences on offer in this aquatic playground. We have an Airlie Beach accommodation guide should you wish to stay overnight, and you will do.

The Whitsundays is home to 74 tropical islands dotted in the warm waters of the Coral Sea. Seven of these islands have resorts that cater to the family to romantic holidays, and many others are available for camping through Queensland National Parks. Airlie Beach has a buzz about it. It does not take long to realize the vibe is the hum of economic activity. People who have visited Airlie Beach over the years say it is taking off, finally, and the locals are ecstatic.

Airlie Beach Travel Guide

Upon the hill above the town, there are all shapes and colors. Side by side, in Golden Orchid Drive, is the Mediterranean Resort and Toscana Village. These upmarket, themed villas, with swimming pools and outstretching views, are 300m up the hill from the action. As the owners say, it is a quick walk down, and a cheap cab fares home. On a terrace overlooking the Coral Sea and Whitsunday Passage is the Toscana Restaurant, which serves a blend of tropical and new Australian cuisine. Diners are in-house or flock from surrounding properties. One property with unimpeded blue water frontage is the Coral Sea Resort, located in the appropriately-named Ocean View Avenue.

Airlie Beach is rapidly becoming the sort of place that suits any visitor. As you come into town, the Adventure Whitsunday Resort Caravan Park is just one property aimed at the drive market that has invested greatly in the area and the results are paying off. A large portion of the travelers coming through the caravan park is upmarket backpackers who are free and independent travelers wanting to stay in accommodation above hostel standard.

Airlie Beach Travel Guide

From anecdotal evidence, the tourism industry reports that backpackers who visited years before are now returning as professional people, traveling with their spouse and family. And, with more disposable income, they are trying experiences different from their previous trip. In the center of town is a new development of integrated retail and commercial sites. It is an investment that is taking the town’s hub to a new level of visitor facilities. The food and dining scene in Airlie Beach is big, very big. No fewer than 40 restaurants line Shute Harbour Road which has become a eat street in its own right. There are Italian, steak houses, Asian cuisine and no shortage of coffee shops. Visitors say it’s like Hastings Street, Noosa, or Surfers Paradise Avenue, the Gold Coast, 20 years ago.

Promoters of Airlie Beach tourism agree that the biggest mistake that people make on their motoring holidays is to ignore the signs on the Bruce Highway which signal the turn off to Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays. They keep on plowing through the sugar cane and miss one of the best vacations they could ever have.

The gateway to the Whitsundays is Airlie Beach. This colorful, cosmopolitan holiday town lies on the shores of a palm-fringed beach and overlooking the calm waters of Pioneer Bay dotted with yachts. Airlie provides the ideal mainland base for holiday fun and adventure in the Whitsundays; it is part of a picturesque peninsula reaching out to the Whitsunday Passage.

Driving into Airlie Beach through the neighboring community of Cannonvale, the road climbs above Abel Point Marina, providing panoramic views of the coastline, the aquamarine sea and the distant islands on the horizon. Make the most of the holiday feeling that scene evokes, absorb the relaxed tropical ambiance as you wander around the village streets and down to the vast lagoon. Set in landscaped parkland overlooking the bay, Airlie Lagoon provides a children’s pool as well as stinger free swimming with lifeguard attendants.

There is a broad array of accommodation on Airlie Beach, ranging from stylish resort hotels on the water’s edge and apartments on the hillside overlooking the scenic beach, bay, and islands, to bed and breakfast options, motels, camping, and caravan parks as well as a host of backpacker accommodation. Many of the essential services for travelers in the region are available in Airlie and the town’s shopping areas are open seven days a week. Every Saturday, under the shade of coconut palms the foreshore parkland turns into a bustling market with stalls selling fresh fruit and veggies, local arts and crafts and all manner of goods.

Airlie Beach offers many dining and entertainment options, ranging from silver service resort dining to alfresco cafes and cheap eats; afterward, enjoy the clubs and bar entertainment well into the night.

Nestled in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays share the same idyllic climate as the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and Tahiti. Nature has left a collection of islands – actually what remains of submerged mountains – rising from a bright turquoise sea.

The fringing coral reefs, tropical rainforests, pristine beaches and crystal clear waters, largely untouched by man, make this one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. The Great Barrier Reef, off Australia’s east coast, is one of the wonders of the natural world. It is World Heritage-listed and is one of Australia’s, and the world’s, premier holiday destinations. World Heritage-listed, the Whitsundays form part of the world’s largest National Park. Comprising some 74 islands the Whitsunday Group is primarily uninhabited.

However, if you pine for civilization there is always one of the internationally renowned island resorts from which to choose. The warm aquamarine waters range between 20 and 25 deg. C allows year-round snorkeling and diving opportunities and provides a glimpse into the magic of these Great Barrier Reef Islands.

The Whitsundays with its safe anchorages and coves, sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, is one of the world’s finest cruising areas and will undoubtedly capture your heart and imagination. Lying in the tropics close to 20 deg south the Whitsundays has an enviable climate year-round. The Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea protect the waters of the Whitsundays from the ocean seas with most islands being surrounded by a fringing reef system.

Summers are warm with frequent rain showers. Winters, considered perfect by many, are warm by day and cool by night. July is the coolest month and January the warmest. Cyclones if they do occur at all are most likely between February and March. Getting To the WhitsundaysDomestic airlines have daily flights into Proserpine and Hamilton Island from all major cities, including Cairns. Proserpine Airport is serviced by a shuttle bus that meets every flight and transfers to Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour.

Airlie Beach Backpacker Guide

Airlie Beach Backpackers offer fun, cheap and exciting accommodation in a magnificent location. Most of the Backpackers in Airlie Beach, offer various tours and activities for you to participate in.

If budget Airlie Beach accommodation is what you are looking for try the YHA. The YHA is a well-priced backpackers hostel conveniently located in the center of Airlie Beach near the swimming lagoon.

Another good choice for budget accommodation would be Magnums Backpackers. It is hidden in the midst of a lush rainforest. It provides cheap accommodation for travelers and is centrally located.

In the heart of Airlie Beach, you will discover Beaches Backpackers. This is an award-winning hostel that features an extensive range of adventure options for you to choose from. The staff at Beaches are helpful and friendly and can give you advice about the area and offer fantastic deals on the wide range of diving adventures, sailing adventures, and day tour options. Several features include the Internet, restaurant, and bar with nightly entertainment for guests, a swimming pool, a large communal kitchen, lounge room, and a laundry.

Bush Village Boutique Backpackers offers quality backpackers accommodation, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. This resort features, Internet access, a swimming pool, a large spa, laundry facilities, a barbecue area, and a gaming area.

Airlie Waterfront Backpackers is Airlie Beach’s one and only backpackers on the beachfront! Enjoy sunning yourself on the glorious white-sanded beaches, swimming in pristine waters or get involved in the many water sports and fun activities available such as sailing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.

For all your Backpacking needs to visit Backpackers World Travel on Shute Harbour Road. This is the place to go to make bookings for adventure tours, site seeing, and various other activities.

Airlie Beach History

Airlie Beach Prior to 1936 the most easterly of the two small bays sitting on either side of the mouth of Airlie Creek was known as Horseshoe Bay and the land behind it as Jubilee Pocket and from about 1904 the land on the southern side of what is now Shute Harbour Road was occupied by a farming community.

In December 1935 the Lands Department decided to throw open for selection the land fronting the water on the northern side of the road, and wrote to the Proserpine Shire Council asking it to suggest a name. The then Council chairman, Robert Shepherd, put forward Airlie and this was confirmed at a meeting of the Council on 9 January 1936 (the Proserpine Guardian 18 January 1936) though the reason for Shepherd’s choice is not known. He was born in 1879 in Montrose on the east coast of Scotland and spent his early life there before coming to Australia in 1904. The Parish of Airlie lies about 30 kilometers to the west of Montrose, and it is possible Shepherd had some association with that area and was influenced by memories of it.

During 1935 it was rumored in the press (Proserpine Guardian 8 June 1935) that the Earl of Airlie was to succeed Sir Isaac Isaacs as Governor-General of Australia, and this also may have played a part. As it happened, the Earl did not become Governor-General, the post being taken by Lord Gowrie in 1936. Another factor that may have influenced Shepherd was that in the Parish of Airlie in Scotland is a Glen Isla, a name that already existed near Proserpine when Shepherd arrived in the area. He obviously was keen on Scottish names for he named his two local properties Montrose and Braemar. Whatever the reason, the Whitsunday’s ‘Airlie’ undoubtedly comes from the Scottish Airlie. (see below) First waterfront settlers Following the proclamation of the new township, the land between Shute Harbour Road and the waterfront was opened for selection. The first sale in January 1936 saw four blocks bought by C. E. Mazlin, F. H. Rogers, J. T. Foxlee and H. E. Foxlee, three at £45 ($ 90) and one at £15 ($ 30) (Proserpine Guardian 1 March 1936).

By May a further two blocks had been sold, to S. R. Abell and R. T. Barr (Proserpine Shire Council minutes 14 May 1936). Almost immediately after the name, Airlie was adopted and the town of Airlie was born in Lands Department records, the area became known locally as ‘Airlie Beach’, and this name was to become common usage in later years. On 6 April 1959, the residents petitioned for an official post office, which was approved on 9 July 1959 with a request to the residents to suggest a name for it.

On 14 August ‘Airlie Beach’ was put forward and later approved by the Post Master General and the Lands Department. The first postmaster was H. J. Rowe in whose store the post office was located. The application for the post office contained the information that there were eighty-three residences in the area of which fifty-three were permanently occupied; there were sixty-nine permanent adult residents and the area carried mainly fruit and small-crop farming (Historical section, Australia Post).

The Scottish Airlie The Parish of Airlie lies on the northern slope of the valley of Strathmore in the county of Angus. It is tiny, about six miles by four, but nevertheless is quite famous in Scottish history. There is no town of Airlie as such, but there is a series of hamlets with Airlie names, such as Mains of Airlie, Airlie Kirkton, Newton of Airlie and so on. Airlie Castle is the official seat of the Earl of Airlie, the title dating from 1639 when it was granted to the Ogilvy family. The Earl\’s younger brother, Angus Ogilvy, is the husband of Princess Alexandra (Forfar Local History Society, Scotland).

Airlie Beach offers many dining and entertainment options, ranging from silver service resort dining to alfresco cafes and cheap eats; afterward, enjoy the clubs and bar entertainment well into the night.