As we left Hamilton, the weather forecast was predicting a 25 knot southerly. Considering this, we headed for the western side of Whitsunday Island. Cid Harbour is a protected southerly anchorage – with the hills of Whitsunday island and Cid island right next door, you pass through a channel to the protected bay. As we approached, we could see just how popular the anchorage was. I counted 40 boats all at anchor here. Lucky the anchorage area is big enough!
Sawmill Beach is the closest beach and is also the starting point for the Whitsunday Peak walk. After we arrived and anchored, it was well after lunch, so we decided to hold off on the big walk until the next day. The map indicated we should allow 2 hours each way for the climb.
The map on the beach showed another walk we could do that was much quicker. This was from Sawmill Beach across the headland to Dugong Beach. This was a beautiful walk – the start of the track took us up through some thick dense forest and foliage. As we rounded the headland, we came across huge trees knocked over during the cyclone. The northern face of the headland really was a different picture – so many trees down and the foliage destroyed. Dugong Beach was lovely, and we had the place to ourselves. We could see up further into Dugong Inlet, which is obviously named for it’s Dugong population who feed off the inlet’s sea grasses.
The anchorage at Cid Harbour proved to be a winner – very calm and we held well despite the wind and a fair bit of swinging.
In the morning, we got ourselves up and organised earlier so we could begin the big walk up to Whitsunday Peak – the highest point in the Whitsundays. I packed some picnic food to eat at the top and we started the trek. Benji did so well – we had to carry him a little, but he did the majority himself. For Sunshine Coasters, this track was a lot like the Mount Coolum track, except 4 times as long! There were lots of stairs and we climbed over a couple of smaller hills to finally reach the peak.
With spectacular views as the reward, it was well worth the effort. I did note however, that we made it up in 1hr 15 min, and that was with 3 primary school children and quite a bit of stopping and carrying! Maybe 2 hours accounts for the elderly?!
A number of other groups that we saw at the top were amazed, and very impressed that Benji had made it all the way up! The trip down took much less time and we all enjoyed a cool swim at the bottom.
After arriving back to the boat for lunch (and rest), the kids watched a movie, and Mark and I slept! I was definitely feeing fatigued from the big walk (note that I carried Benji on my back some of the way!!). Mark also slept for ages!
We thought the kids MUST be tired after all that and should go to bed early! We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset.
After another night at Cid Harbour, the anchorage started to empty as the wind dropped back to 10 knots. We also decided to head up through Hook Passage and around the top end of Whitsunday Island to Tongue Bay.
The Hook Passage proved to be a bit like crossing a bar with a current rushing through – we had the tie behind us, but it was still quite rough.
We arrived at Tongue Bay just on high tide, and luckily for us, we picked up a mooring as we cruised in. Tongue Bay is a popular spot amongst the tours and charter boats as it’s the place where the famous Hill Inlet lookout can be accessed. The lookout shows the amazing blues of the inlet and the white silica sand stretching across the sweep of Whitehaven beach beyond. This has to be one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen. After our walk to the lookout, we took the second track leading down to Lookout Beach below. The white sand and aqua blue water was amazing and we enjoyed swimming here.
After our trek back to the boat, we had lunch and then cruised around Tongue Point. Mark had the idea to anchor the boat close to the inlet and then take the dinghy up for a look. We all jumped in and cruised over the crystal clear waters to another little beach further up the inlet.
On our way back to the boat, we spotted two people who were sitting in the shallow waters of the middle of the inlet. Deeper channels of water were either side of them. At first we thought they were just giving us a friendly wave until the guy started to wave us over. We were a bit unsure at first, but headed over. As it turned out it was a Brazillian backpacker who had tried to swim/wade across the inlet. Once we got close we realised he was in a fair state of panic, and was begging us to help him get back to his group. He had set out to swim across, got caught in the current, panicked and then realised he couldn’t make it back. So the sailing peacocks came to the rescue! He was so relieved to be in our dinghy – leaving his aussie girlfriend on the sand bar to swim her own way back (she assured us she could swim it). He had actually been waving to us as we headed into the inlet, but we didn’t notice. It’s lucky he managed to get our attention as it was getting late in the arvo and the tourist boats had left. The depth of the inlet channel means only the shallow draft catamarans can make it in and out on a high tide. There isn’t much boat traffic so the Brazilian bloke was lucky we saw him.
After the rescue, we got back on board Aqua Vita and cruised down to Whitehaven again to anchor for the night. We spent the arvo swimming and the kids played on the beach til the sun went down. Just love this place!
Next morning, Mark had an idea to do a bit of a triathlon before the kids woke up. We would each do a swimming lap (starting from the beach) around Aqua Vita, then I would do a run leg up the beach, while he would paddle the stand up around the boat. Then I would paddle and he would do another swim leg (past ankle injury prevents Mark running well). We did this twice over and it took us around 30 min. It was a good bit of exercise (much needed). Whitehaven is the perfect place for a run or swim and I noticed they do an ocean swim series there in November. Might be an excuse to come back!