Whitsunday Cairn Trip

by Rod

in Sea Kayaking

Whitsunday Cairn is a rocky outcrop which sits on the

Looking good to cross the Whitsunday Passage

Northern End of Whitsunday Island, out from Shute Harbour, Queensland, Australia. We decided to make this paddling expedition into a three day weekend. Making an early start Friday morning our sea kayaks were packed and we were on the water about 8:30 am. From Shute Harbour we headed north east between Day Dream Island and South Molle to Unsafe Passage where we rested before making the crossing to Hook Island.

We had planned to be in the middle of the Whitsunday Passage on the slack of the high tide, but we were running a little later than we planned. We thought this would be ok, because as the tide turned it should have assisted us with our crossing north. As we came closer to Hook Island we realized that we were going to be pushing against the flow of the tide as we paddled eastward along the southern end of Hook Island. The slight head wind although cooling us from the heat of the day was also offering some resistance to our efforts. It was a welcome sight to finally make it around the point into Macona Inlet, Hook Island where our campsite was for the next two nights.

After relaxing for awhile and eating some lunch it was time to set up tents and hammock. We all had different ideas on what to fill the rest of the afternoon with, Derik checked out the snorkeling, Eric and Pam had a snooze, Col had some adjusting to do to his hammock and I went for a bushwalk up the ridge behind camp. As darkness fell the local inhabitants decided it was safe to come out including the curloos. Maybe that is why it is called Curloo Beach.

View from Whitsunday Cairn

The next morning everyone was keen to start the paddle around to Cairn Beach after breakfast. It was about a 4 km paddle around past the old Hook Island Underwater Observatory and across to Cairn Beach. The tide again shocked us at it’s sped out between Hook Island and Whitsunday Island. For those not aware the tide travels in the opposite direction than you might expect between these two islands. The tide travels north easterly, out to sea on an incoming tide. We decided it must be due to the shape of the islands and the flood of water into the Whitsunday Passage.

The walk up to Whitsunday Cairn was quite hot and steep for us none walkers, but well worth the view when we reached the top. Great time to relax, take in the awesome view, cool off in the refreshing breeze and take a couple photos.

Just take note if you do walk this track to take care and make sure you stay on the track. It is easy to follow an animal track or furrow off the main track and then you could loose your way. It happen briefly to us twice. If it does happen, stop, take note where you are and carefully backtrack until you find the track again. The walk back down was encouraged with the thought of a coffee or a cold beer waiting for us at the resort over the passage on Hook Island.

At Hook Island the Coffee machine was broken but the beers were cold. Then it was back in the kayaks for the short paddle back to Curloo Beach. Back at camp the rest of the afternoon was spent sleeping or snorkeling. While the sun was setting it was time for a wine then dinner and solve some of the worlds problems before an early night.

Sunday Morning saw us up watching the sun rise and breakfast and then packing up for  the return paddle to Shute Harbour. So much for a Sunday morning sleep in. We were hoping for that same north easterly to be blowing but guess what, it had swung around to the south. The wind was helping the sailing by slightly pushing us across the passage and the tide was pushing us south. We called into the beach on the northern end of South Molle before our final stretch back into Shute Harbour.

It was a physical weekend for a couple of us who aren’t as fit as I thought I was but a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and very rewarding.


Wind: 5-10 km/hr, NE Friday – SE Sunday

Distance paddled: 52kms.

Distance walked: 4kms

Curloo Beach GPS Location: Latitude:-20.16922  Longitude:148.91431

Comments on this entry are closed.


Pam Faulkner December 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Hi Rod
Great job Rod,great story ,great trip
Many thanks


Rod December 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

Thanks Pam, It is good to receive some feed back.

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