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When you’re planning a trip and certain destinations keep coming up again and again, it’s probably for a reason. Every guide exhorted “Don’t miss The Whitsundays!” and everyone we spoke with urged “You have to see the Whitsundays!” So of course we made it a priority and… Wow! We totally understand why every trip to the Queensland coast should include time in these magnificent islands.
We’ve purposely left our campervan trip as unscripted as reasonably possible. Australia is so large, and there’s so much to see, that we wanted to be sure to maintain flexibility. We literally made no advance reservations anywhere. If we find ourselves in a magnificent spot and want to stay longer, no worries. If we arrive someplace that isn’t our cup of tea, move on! If we head in a completely different direction, all the better.
The desire for flexibility was one of the factors in choosing the off/shoulder season for our trip. Showing up at a caravan park without a reservation at 5 pm on a Friday or Saturday evening (which we’ve done more than once already) wouldn’t likely end well during the high season. The trade-off is the weather, which can be a bit on the hot & humid side for dry camping. But electric hook-ups and A/C are plentiful, so no worries (they really do say that a lot down here)!
The jumping off point for The Whitsunday Islands is Airlie Beach, Queensland. This gives us the opportunity to stay at a holiday park (that’s Aussie for “RV resort”) widely considered the best in the country: Big4. Any mention of Big4 Holiday Parks to other RVers was followed by knowing head-nodding and comments like “They’re the best,” spoken in revered tones as if it were simply a fact.
Our first Big4 experience, at Airlie Cove Resort and Caravan Park in Airlie Beach, supports the conclusions we’ve heard. While we’ve stayed at many nice caravan parks, this was a new level. As we’ve mentioned before, due to limited RV tank capacities and the lack of full hook-ups, camp kitchens, bathrooms and showers are ubiquitous at most campgrounds.
But Airlie Cove Big4 has two huge, beautiful camp kitchens, multiple barbecues under a large gazebo, and a separate poolside kitchen with a dedicated pizza oven. And the bathrooms are both huge and clean.
In North America, we’re generally not “RV park” aficionados, staying in them more for practical purposes when needed, rather than seeking them out as destinations. But our experience so far in Australia has been that many very desirable destinations are well-served by nearby caravan parks. With the temperature & humidity higher during the off-season, the power to run air conditioning alone is worth it. They’re convenient all year round and we have to admit that the water park was pretty fun, too!
But the Whitsundays are the main reason we’re here. There’s a lot more to see than we’re able to manage, as we only have a couple of days (even though we have an open schedule, we do have an end date to turn in the rental, plus airline tickets already purchased). So we can’t stay forever… not this trip anyway. ;-)
Rather than write about our time on spectacular Whitehaven Beach (ranked as one of the top beaches in the world), we’ll leave it to the video to show you what it’s like. Suffice it to say, if you get to Australia, don’t miss the Whitsundays!
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