Leaving Cairns for Airlie Beach

posted Feb 23, 2011, 1:38 AM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Feb 28, 2011, 1:08 PM ]
We got up early for the long 9 hour drive south to Airlie Beach – The Gateway to the WhitSunday Islands and more of the Great Barrier Reef which extends all of the way down to Brisbane approximately 2000 kms in length in total.  Cairns is a very beautiful area with its perpetual brooding rainclouds threatening to rain all of the time.  The mountains of the green rainforest are everywhere and the clouds are hanging over the mountains and thick mist clouds are drifting by the green mountains. 
Then you have the pretty miles and miles of beaches.  We were in Box Jellyfish season so you swim at your own risk.  We never went in to the Coral Sea once due to this fact, other than snorkelling.  There are beaches that have net safe areas to keep the jellyfish out but we did not bother.  When we were reading the Cairns paper there was a crocodile photographed sitting on top of the contraption that keeps the net up and safe for the swimmers.  I wonder if he was choosing from the swimmer menu which one he was going to eat.
While driving south it is quite scenic along the coast driving along mountain ranges and hills.  The feilds are green with banana plantations and sugar cane fields.  Due to Cyclone Yazi which ripped through the Queensland area about two weeks ago we were frequently stopped along a 300 km area to make way for power line workers and their equipment.  Lines all along this area were brought down by the high winds.  The area around Mission Beach changed in color from green to brown.  All of the trees were decimated from the cyclone and all leaves were ripped off leaving the trees all dull and brown.  Whole mountain sides were bare of green and they were quite ugly looking.  Hundreds of palm trees and other trees were ripped down due to the high winds.  Most signs were torn down and off their posts.  There were piles of rubble and debris strewn around or in piles.  Corrugated metal was still laying in the fields.  Many homes were missing their roofs and whole houses were missing walls and a roof.  In Cardwell which is directly on the Coral Sea with no protection, it was the hardest hit.  It looked demolished by Cyclone Yazi.  The boats were piled up on the land and they were smashed to smizerenes. 
Once you get well past Cardwell and on to Ingham things start to green up again but trees were strewn everywhere in this town.  Once we got closer to Airlie Beach then it began to look like a normal rainforest area again.  Leaving the Bruce highway and turning left onto a narrow road to get to Airlie Beach was a very pretty drive of farm after farm of greenery.  Driving up to Airlie Beach is very pretty with the numerous marina areas and the WhitSunday Islands hovering in the horizon of the Coral Sea.  It is also beautiful in this area and there is a very young population here.