Before you start
Distance: 1.1 km (one way) to the beach + 520 m to the lookout.
How to get there: Follow the Shute Harbour road from Airlie beach to Shute Harbour (about 10 km). Before turning to the ferry terminal at Shute harbour, turn to your left, and find the car park with the entrance to the trail.
About the Whitsundays
Before you read this post, I want you to close your eyes for a minute and image yourself standing in a tropical paradise. Close your eyes now…yes please do so :)
What did you see? ….Well, let me tell you that probably your imagination transported you to a place very similar to what the Whitsunday's is.
The landscape around the Whitsundays region is versatile. It covers 23 862 square kilometres and includes the towns of Airlie Beach, Bowen, Cannonvale, Collinsville and Proserpine, and a number of smaller rural and coastal communities which are scattered throughout the area. Millions of tourists visit this area every year because it has a lot to offer. Breath-taking blue turquoise waters, seventy four Islands some with white powder sand, a gateway to the great barrier reef, subtropical rainforests, the outback, a dam, waterfalls, and a lot of sugar cane as you drive along the coast. The Island of reefs of the Whitsundays have inspired people for generations in many ways, and has definitely been a main inspiration for my art. For some, a bucket list item is to see the Great Barrier Reef, while others come to the Whitsunday's for a combination of adventure and to enjoy the vibrant nightlife. And some come to make this place their home, just like we did.
This is a trail that won't let you down. A stroll around Conway conservation Park, in Shute harbour. The easy track takes you through eucalyptus forest to a stony coral laden beach, and finish with a great view towards some of the Whitsunday Islands. It sounds like a great place to go isn't? Well yes it was and the hobbits will tell you about.
Eucalyptus forest, swamp, and beach
Among others, I would describe the walk as a perfect place to find a spot of solicitude, if you need a break from your busy life. It is also an easy walk to do with children and you can choose whether to do only the walk to the beach or continue to the lookout.
We went on this walk during a cool winter morning in July. The air was fresh as we left the car park and entered the start of the trail which was eucalyptus forest. On the floor the trail is rough but fairly flat, and narrow in places. The top of the trees branches and leaves above welcome you, providing with nice shade along the way. As you walk deeper inside the forest, a swamp of mangrove trees appears to the side, and then you emerge like a dream to the blue ocean, a beach and the Whitsunday islands.
The sand on the beach is made of coral rubble and seashells. It is a perfect spot for a stop. We had morning tea there, while contemplating the ocean and enjoying the sea breeze.
Continue to the look out.
Walk further along the beach, to your right and soon you’ll find the sign indicating the way to the lookout. Once more, the trail is surrounded by eucalyptus trees and in addition, vines. It is an easy walk, but does have a few steep parts. The path ends at an elevated wooden lookout, which stands like a fort. From here there is a view of the subtropical rainforest, the ocean and several islands rising from the horizon. When we went, many of the trees had new leaf growth of orange that contrasted spectacularly with the blue ocean view. The walk from the beach to the lookout is only about 0.5 km and the view is well worth it, so push the kids a bit further!
What to bring
You don’t really need much for this walk. Essential items, such as water and a snack, hats, closed shoes, long pants and sunscreen, should be more than enough. Expect LOTS of mosquitoes during summer time. So pack your mozzie repellent too.
Activities, games and outdoor art.
The detective game.
Other than relaxing and getting fit during the walk, we always try to do something else, like play games as we walk, while learning something. In all occasions, we try to learn with our children as much as possible about the natural history of the region, so pretty much what it means is that we try to learn about the flora, fauna and the people who lived in a particular place in the past. So take a moment to read the signs, and find the species mention in them. Then play the detective game and try to find the trees and flowers described on the signs with your kids.
Collect coral rubble and seashells (but please put them back): My kids are collectors. They grab anything they can which is great, it shows their explorer spirits. When we collect items, we try to sort them and if we have a notebook, we draw them. But make sure they don’t take things that belong to the sand or the forest. It is important to keep nature in balance. So put the items back.
Enjoy the walk. And always remember to take your rubbish with you!
(edited by Sam Penglase)
copyrights P&F photography