Skip to main content

How to find true love on the Great Barrier Reef

See the Great Barrier Reef in its full wonder from the air in the Whitsundays and you'll discover its secret coral heart.

There are shorter and cheaper options, but the full Air Whitsunday Panorama Tour is really worth the splurge. There's a reason why it is their signature tour.  It is bucket list stuff with a half day (four and a half hours) enjoying an eagle's eye view of the Whitsunday Islands National Park and the Great Barrier Reef, with snorkelling, beach combing and champagne of course!

Leaving from Whitsunday Airport, located about 15 minutes from Airlie Beach, we boarded a small aeroplane to head out over the Great Barrier Reef to the first destination, Whitehaven Beach.

Our group was small, only nine people including the pilot, which is in stark contrast to the numbers on some of the boat trips which ply the same route.

It was coral bloom time so the normally clear blue water was decorated with ribbons of floating algae which is all part of the reef's renewal.  Gazing out the window, the water appeared transparently aqua with gleaming white sandbanks just underneath the surface.

The plane cruised around Hill Inlet showing the expanse of white sand that makes Whitehaven Beach so distinctive.

It only took a few minutes and we were down on the water with landing at Whitehaven that was just as smooth as the runway take off.  Pilot Paul Steszewski positioned the plane close to the beach and we stepped off the floats into knee deep water, wading to the shore for our glass of champagne, chocolates, chips and cookies.

A stroll along the blindingly white sand beach followed by a swim was too hard to resist.  I could have spent all day floating in the water but we had more on our day list including a look at the famous Heart Reef.

Back in the plane we cruised over more heart breakingly beautiful reefs towards the outer edge until we reached Hardy Reef and the famous Heart Reef, a natural coral composition.  I'm told it's been the scene of many proposals and if you let the pilot know he might be able to help with a little extra time to get those words out.

Snorkelling around the coral garden at Hardy Reef revealed a world of wonderment.  There were amazing corals waving in the current, hundreds of small fish weaving in and around the formations, larger fish cruising on the bottom looking suspiciously above, all while bathing in the warm waters of the Whitsundays. A blissful place.

It's two hours of swimming and viewing but it seems like a micro second and you are back on the plane, waving goodbye to a very special part of the world.

The tour Air Whitsunday Panorama Tour costs $450 per adult.  Worth every cent in my book.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer:  Ed+bK travelled as a guest of Tourism Whitsunday.


Popular posts from this blog

Brisbane's top 10 'chew with a view' restaurants and cafes

It's a beautiful day! Where can you go and dine in the warm sun with a view that you'll never want to leave?

Here are ten top places in and around Brisbane to while away a lunch hour or a whole afternoon when the weather is warm and the skies are blue .

River Quay, South Bank

South Bank’s River Quay precinct has plenty of opportunities to relax in the sunshine and just about any restaurant at River Quay will offer a great spot for a winter lunch with a large, grassed lawn rolling down to the river bank.  You can even lie in the sun if you so desire.

Stop for champagne, oysters and more at Cove Bar and Dining, enjoy French provincial food at Aquitaine Brasserie, take in the river view from a Balinese daybed while you tuck into the contemporary menu at The Jetty, feast on Italian cuisine at Popolo or sip a long drink on the riverside deck of Stokehouse Q where the menu draws on local produce combined with bold flavours from the Mediterranean.

River Quay is the spot for Sunday …

Thar she blows - how to hunt whales the friendly way

A grunt and a spurt of seawater rising into the air show the position of a mother humpback whale and her three-week-old calf.

I'm on purpose-designed whale watching boat and we have motored for an hour over the calm seas of the great sandy straits up the coastline of Fraser Island

Captain Phil tells the 50 or so people aboard that the tip of the island is where we will see the whales and he is right.

Our first mother and calf are a little shy at first, keeping the boat at a good distance but I can clearly see the much smaller calf swimming strongly beside its mother.

I'm fascinated by the large circles of calm water that float past us and Phil tells us these are whale footprints

"They break the water tension when they flick their tails to swim down resulting in the clear circles on the water,” Phil says.

Sailors used whale footprints to track whales back in the bad old days when whales were valued more for their blubber than their beauty.

Our next mother and calf are a l…

Lunch amongst the lavender in the Scenic Rim

It was time to brush the cobwebs off the motor bike over Easter and head out of Brisbane into the beautiful Scenic Rim.

We started down the highway towards Beenleigh in beautiful autumn sunshine and stopped for a coffee at The Outpost Cafe at Canungra.  This is a well known bikies hangout but don't expect too much in the way of chains and dreadlocks - it's more favoured by the middle aged bikie enjoying the freedom of the road second time round.

The road less travelled is always our favoured route for this type of outing and we back tracked through Rathdowney before reaching our destination for the day, Kooroomba Lavender Farm about 65 minutes from Brisbane in the Scenic Rim at Mt Alford near Boonah.

Autumn is not the premium time for viewing either the vineyard or the lavender but the view across the valley to the mountains was still outstanding.  The building has a New Zealand lodge feel to it with plenty of stone walls both inside and outside, complimented by timber and ex…

Ten top things to do in Noosa Heads

It doesn't matter how many times I head down the hill on Noosa Drive towards the ocean, I still get a little shiver of excitement every time. This very special part of the world has achieved international recognition for its unique environment and I am privileged to be able to dip my toes into it on a regular basis.

Here are ten of my favourite Noosa pastimes.

1. Although it’s always tempting to sleep in, I don't like to waste a moment of the day when I wake up in Noosa. The best way to start is in the coffee queue at Sails on Hastings Street and then a stroll along the winding boardwalk to the National Park, koala spotting along the way.

Depending on my mood and energy level, I continue the walk through the park to enjoy the beachside views. Some like to run it. You can pick up a coffee at the information hut in the national park as well.

2. After a bit of exercise there's nothing like a big breakie at Aromas and a spot of people watching. With t…

Lots to explore at Brisbane's South Bank

Four markets in one day - what a way to spend a Sunday!

We started at the organic markets at Downy Park, Windsor which was not such a good idea. Why? Well we took the dog and the place was full of puddles - he's a corgi with very low legs - it all ended up being very messy.

Also, these markets definitely finish up on their advertised closing time of 10.30am.  Call me slow or just plain lazy but I find it hard to get out and about early on a Sunday morning. We arrived primed for breakfast at 10am just as everyone was shutting up - they had even run out of bread for French toast!

However, this market was just the first on our list. Next, we drove to South Bank Parklands to explore the Young Designers Market and the Granite Belt Flavours Market - both on the same day.

Several designer/clothes/jewellery purchases later, K2 subdued his inner male and agreed to look for the Granite Belt Flavours market which was not in its usual spot.  On the way, we walked through the regular South Ba…