Airlie Beach

One of the places we went on our 1000km round trip this weekend was Airlie Beach. It is about a three hour drive south of Townsville.

When I was a teenager Airlie Beach was a hole. Just a hippy town. The place you went to drop out of society. The place you went if you wanted to live in the back of your van. The place you went if you didn’t really want to be an adult.

Then along came the developers. The hills surrounding the beach are now terraced with hundreds of holiday units. Every shop on the main strip is a touristy shop. The vans have gone and the porches have arrived.

This is why:


There isn’t a lot to see or do at Airlie Beach itself, but it is the access point to the Whitsunday Islands on the Great Barrier Reef. Many of the islands have resorts. Lots of people come here to hire a yacht and tour around the islands. It is a beautiful part of the world.

There are huge backpacker hostels at Airlie Beach. You can’t walk down the main street without tripping over other people. Almost every nation is represented in the accents that you hear in the streets. Every night at the pub is happy hour – hour after hour. Once we went to sit on the beach at about five o’clock in the afternoon and found two young people (possible backpackers leaving happy hour) getting very friendly with each other. There are always people just laying about in the sun working on their tans. If people wear shoes at all it is only thongs. If people wear more than swimmers that is surprising. It is a very casual place.

This is the view to the other direction:


See all of that dirt. It used to be the ocean. They are filling in the ocean so that more people can have a water-side living address. That is hundreds and thousands of tonnes of dirt coming from somewhere on the back of trucks to fill in the ocean.

Astounding…I kind of liked it when the hippies were there…


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17 responses to “Airlie Beach

  1. M

    There’s something just not right about re-claiming the ocean in a country as large and well-blessed with coastline as ours…

  2. I’m with M…there’s definitely something wrong about filling in the darn ocean. For goodness sakes!

    I went to Airlie Beach about 13/14 years ago and it looks incredibly different. All those resort-y type buildings. Who wants to stay there? And why? We just hopped straight on a boat and chugged away to some island.

    The Whitsundays area is definitely fantastic. Glad you had a great trip!

  3. Amazing – I wonder if you walked past the Lovely MissE who was there this past weekend with three of her friends. Four lovely girls having the time of their lives!

  4. I hope the ocean reclaims their lovely water-side abodes. It will you know.

  5. I couldn’t help but think of the ocean fighting back, & taking it all back!
    What a shame it is being spoilt.

  6. I’m always dubious about reclaimed land. Nature has a way of fighting back.

  7. Oh yeah, what Stomper said, and then what Fairlie said.


    Bring back the hippies I say.

  8. That ocean filling thing is insance. They do that in Hong Kong but not North Queensland surely. Well obviously they do but it is insane.

    I am smiling at how casual you are about 1000ks in a weekend. Good grief!

  9. Insance? So much worse than insane.

  10. Phenomenal photos! But I have to agree with all the other comments about reclaiming from the sea. When will humankind learn not to mess with nature?

  11. Progress. That’s what some say. Developers usually.

    You must’ve stayed not far from where we did, when we drove down in August.

    There was something about Airlie Beach that I did love but I do have to say that the Whitsunday’s is amazingly beautiful. It holds a speical place in my heart, just like Cairns does…

  12. soozadoo

    And they’ll go

    “WTF, who’d have thunk it?”

    when a big arse cyclone comes and washes it all back into the sea

  13. my thoughts exactly – tsunami… oh bugger….

  14. h&b

    that is weird about the filling-in. I would think it bad karma/luck to buy/built on it. Brrr…

    The other picture is just divine though.
    I’m not good at casual footwear. I never look casual/relaxed enough for Qld….

  15. I kind of wish they wouldn’t fill in the ocean like that.

    No worries, though. In fifty years, it’ll be under water again.

  16. Sue

    Yes in 20 or so years they’ll all be complaining that their trillion dollar homes are sinking!

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