Great Barrier Reef Foundation's Whitsundays Kayak 2022: Adventure Blog
GBRF's eager supporters are off to kayak the Great Barrier Reef.
Day 1: Wednesday, 3 August 2022
Picked up from our accommodation by our amazing guides, we made our way to the meeting point in Airlie Beach. Luckily, a few of us had already met for dinner the night before but we were excited to meet the rest of the team. Us, our kayaks and supplies travelled on a small barge to Whitehaven Beach - picture powder white sand and crystal clear water. What a welcome!
On arrival we had a light meal and we were welcomed to country by a traditional owner who we were lucky enough to spend the day with. We made our introductions, had our team briefing on the trip and day ahead, then got acquainted with our kayaks.
The weather conditions were perfect for exploring nearby Haslewood Island and went on to do a spot of snorkelling at Chalkie’s Beach. Back at Whitehaven Beach, we set up camp, took a walk to Whitehaven Point lookout, enjoyed a lovely meal together and our first night together on this island paradise.
Day 2: Thursday, 4 August 2022
Falling asleep to the sounds of the birds like the Orange Footed Scrub Foul and the sea rolling into the shore of the beach was such a unique experience. Everyone woke at their own pace and we had breakfast together at camp before tackling our first kayaking challenge - 17kms, all up, but broken into manageable sections. We kayaked along the eastern coast of Whitsunday Island (even spotting a turtle on the way!), to the entrance of Hill Inlet for a short walk to a nearby scenic lookout, which was just breath taking! How lucky are we to have the third most photographed place in Australia at our feet. We explored a couple of walking trails, went for a swim and had some encounters with baby sting rays swimming close to our feet. We enjoyed lunch on the beach and then kayaked back to camp - a big day!
Day 3: Friday 5 August 2022
This morning we woke up to the sounds of kookaburras and the calming sound of the ocean. In fact, while taking in the gorgeous sunrise and peaceful, calming water, we had a whale spotting - a humpback with her calf. Before we bid farewell to Whitehaven, half us kayaked and the other walked across the island, meeting at Chance Bay. Here we snorkelled and spotted clown fish, turtles and sting rays before returning to camp for some lunch and being transferred by water taxi to our new home, Maureen’s Cove on Hook Island. At first sight, the beach is covered in coral instead of the white sand we’d been used to but the island was deserted and we were excited to have it to ourselves. We sat and talked, enjoying simple conversations and laughter while taking in the sunset over the water.
Day 4: Saturday 6 August 2022
Today we were greeted to the sounds of Bush Stone Curlew and opened our tents to the sight of the coral beach. After a light breakfast we took off on our kayaks early today to explore the northern end of Hook Island, where we stopped at Mantaray Bay. Here we met Cass Hayward,
the Whitsundays Project Manager who explained a bit about the GBRF coral restoration project off Mantaray Bay and took us snorkelling to see one of the coral nurseries. What a great way to see first-hand the impact of the fundraising efforts of our team, “Team Reef”.
On theme with the trip so far, there were whales breaching in the background while Cass spoke!
We saw a huge Mantaray while at Mantaray Bay and had a light lunch and more amazing snorkelling at the beautiful Steen’s Beach.
After yet another big day of kayaking we settled back into camp for our evening ritual of cheese, biscuits and good old fashioned conversation on the beach long after the sun set. Tonight it was chased with a night walk to see where the butterflies sleep before we headed off to our own sleeping bags.
Day 5: Sunday 7th August 2022
This morning we rose early for a sunrise paddle and boy it didn’t disappoint! Armed with our kayaks, paddles and head torches, we paddled out and had flying fish literally leaping over our boats - sometimes even onto them until we helped them free. We coasted together as a group in the silence of the morning and watched a baby and mother whale playing about 100m away from where we were. As we paddled back to land with more daylight, it seemed the whales weren’t done with us just yet, swimming under and around our kayaks, maybe 5-10m this time. What a morning!
After breakfast and a little rest, most of us kayaked to Butterfly Bay - no need to snorkel there, the visibility was so great from the boats already. The rest of us stayed on and for a walk around the camp surrounds, even stumbling on our own flutter of butterflies - quite spectacular to see.
A cruisy day taking in the last of the gorgeous weather for the interstaters on this trip and a perfect way to reflect on the achievements we’ve had - clocking over 50kms of kayaking and supporting on longevity of one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
After packing up camp and enjoying a motorised boat ride back to the mainland, we made our way to our respective accomodation and looked forward to everyday creature comforts of fresh water showers. With some great bonds created between team members and guides alike, we weren’t quite ready for goodbyes as yet, so had one more farewell dinner together, this time dressed up at a restaurant in town. A fitting send off to a fabulous week.
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