Whitsunday Island is the largest island in the Whitsunday group of islands. The island is accessible by boat from the mainland tourist ports of Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. It contains many popular destinations for both day visitors and overnight sailors, including the magnificent pure-white sands of Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, the secure anchorage of Cid Harbour, and the sheltered waterway of Gulnare Inlet. The island has six campgrounds. The island can be accessed by private boat with many secluded and safe inlets available for mooring overnight, however it is also a regular stopping place for signtseeing cruise vessels.
The crystal clear blue calm waters and bright white silica sands are what greet you when you arrive at the island. The white silica sand is a major natural selling point of the island for many as the sand is of high purity; the grains are extremely fine, and as a result it s incredibly soft to touch and doesn t get too hot underfoot. Coupled with the bleaching effects of the sun, the sand is pure white in colour and is among one of the most photographed beaches in the world.
It is quite common to see marine life from here such as turtles, sting rays and large schools of fish. The views here are truly mesmerising. Regardless of whether you are with a tour or travelling on your own there will be plenty of time to get your selfies and make your relatives at home completely jealous of your adventures.
Thanks to government intervention, the island has been protected and untouched with zero development permitted ensuring that this natural beauty is kept pristine and healthy for many generations to come. Basic facilities are limited to public toilets and picnic tables. Visitors are required to be self-sufficient and remove all rubbish from the island when you leave. If you wish to stay here longer, camping sites are available on the southern end of Whitehaven Beach. Permits are required and should be obtained through the Queensland National Parks office at Airlie Beach. Campers must ensure they bring adequate food and water to sustain them for the duration of their visit. Many overnight sailing trips stop here to allow you more time to explore the island.
Getting to Whitsunday Island from Airlie Beach can take up to 2 hours with various day tours that stop at this magnificent treasure of the Great Barrier Reef. Other options include high speed rafting adventures that offer a more exciting way ride to the island than ferry. These tours also allow you to spend several hours here on Whitehaven Beach to relax and enjoy this natural beauty. It also possible to experience Whitehaven Beach from air in a helicopter or in a seaplane that delivers passengers to the island for an exclusive island experience in the Whitsunday islands.
Hill Inlet Lookout, Whitsunday IslandThe classic view of Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach that can be found in the photo collections of just about everyone who visits the Whitsundays is taken from Hill Inlet lookout on Whitsunday Island. The lookout is at the end of a gentle, easy 15 minute walk up a natural bush track up the northern face of the island from Tongue Bay. What you can see is the full view up peaceful Hill Inlet - a stunning inlet were tidal movements shift acres of pure white sand to create a fusion of beautiful azure blues. Whitehaven Beach provides the inlet's equally stunning backdrop.
So popular is the locality, at times, cruise vessels queue up to offload their passengers so they can make the trek up to the lookout. If possible, try to reach the lookout when the tide is changing, as the golden sand and aqua water hues blend seamlessly into a mosaic of colours.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday IslandStretching over nine kilometres, this pristine expanse of pure white silica sand fringed by brilliant blue water and lush tropical island, is recognised as one of the jewels of the Whitsunday Islands. Promoted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and rightly so, Whitehaven Beach is an integral part of the unique beauty of the Whitsundays. No visit to the Whitsundays is complete without a trip to Whitehaven Beach. It is serviced by modern Ferries, cruising yachts, seaplanes and helicopters. A variety of companies offer day trips and/or overnight charters to Whitehaven Beach from both the Islands, Shute Harbour and Airlie Beach.
History of the islandJames Cook did not sight or pass through the Whitsunday Passage on Whit Sunday 1770, but on the Monday following. However first sighted the passage he named Whitsunday Passage it was on the morning of 3 June ship's time but to obtain the correct local day it is necessary to apply his afternoon day, 4 June. Cook did not give any of the other 'Whitsunday' names in the area apart from Pentecost Island, and then it was only marked on his charts. These names followed much later; Whitsunday Island in 1863; Whitsunday Peak and Whitsunday Cairn in 1866 following Commander G.S. Nares' surveys in HMS Salamander; Whitsunday Craig in 1879 following Staff Commander E.P. Bedwell's surveys in SS Llewellyn. The description Whitsunday Isles appeared on Admiralty charts in the 1860s when BA347 in its 1863 and 1866 editions carried on the title page the legend Percy Isles to Whitsunday Isles though this did not appear on subsequent charts.
Since the 1860s, Whitsunday Island had been a source of building timber for Bowen and on 1 November 1895 John Whitnall (Withnall) was given a special lease 525 for ten years over five acres to erect a sawmill and residence at today's Sawmill Beach in Cid Harbour though he was there well before that time, perhaps under some other tenure. He paid the rent on the lease until 31 December 1902 and the lease was cancelled on 18 April 1905 by which time he had left.
The Townsville timber firm of Rooney and Co showed some interest in the Gulnare Inlet area when on 21 December 1891 they obtained an occupation licence 48 over 160 acres Commencing on the right bank of a small creek near the head of a shallow inlet from Whitsunday Passage, being a point bearing about east from the southernmost extremity of Cid Island and bounded thence on the south by a line bearing west about 40 chains. On the west by a line bearing north about 40 chains. On the north by a line bearing east 40 chains to the aforementioned small creek thence by that creek to the starting point'. This description is confusing because of the reference to Cid Island but the area concerned was at the head of Gulnare Inlet as a map accompanying the application shows. The purpose of the area was to depasture working bullocks for drawing cut timber. The plan did not proceed and the licence was cancelled in October 1892.
Whitsunday Island was declared a timber reserve on 18 December 1902 but this was altered to national park status in October,1944.