There are few places in this world that I have spent too much time in. I’ll freely admit that I love to explore, roam, wander and experience everything a location has to offer. However when travelling and you wake up in the same location and just think ‘why am I still here?’, you know you have overstayed your welcome.
One such place is the enigma of Airlie Beach on Australia’s East Coast. I refer to it as an enigma because to me it’s a place that is very difficult to comprehend and understand.
Airlie Beach is a small town in between Rockhampton and Townsville on the coast of Queensland, which acts as a gateway to the Whitsunday Islands (one of the East Coasts premier attractions). What should be a small, quaint, idyllic fishing town has turned into a mecca for backpackers and party-goers from all over the world.
The main street during the day looks similar to a lot of seaside resorts, boasting touristy shops, cafes and a few hostels. It’s quite quiet and just feels like a usual coastal town. To add to the enigma the town also doesn’t even boast a nice beach, but a ‘lagoon’ (aka Swimming pool).
It is night that Airlie Beach really captivates; the town explodes with illumination and sound. People appear from everywhere to take advantage of the social environment. It is a likely occurrence that you will witness dancing and drinking in the street, free hugs, that couple who really need to find a room and well anything else you can imagine when hundreds of 18-30 year olds all get together. A note to the wise also, heading to the lagoon in the evening is strictly a no, no – having heard that it was nicknamed ‘STD lagoon’ for the amount of sex that takes place in it after dark…
Don’t get me wrong I had a great time in Airlie for the first few nights partying with friends, meeting new people and doing what young people do. However, when I found myself waking up early afternoon and starting to drink again – it got very old very quickly. If it wasn’t drinking straight away, it was lying in front of the ‘lagoon’, pretty much waiting for night to fall so that we could party once again. There are only so many memories you can add to the repertoire, of the same club, the same night, however enjoyable it was the night before.
The interesting thing about Airlie too, was that, except for the Whitsundays and the drinking, there was very little to actually do. But the nights were originally enticing, with your first drink free in many establishments, you just never knew where you would end up.
I hear you ask – why? Why did you stay? Well originally Airlie enthralled me; it offered elation and excitement, new friends and new experiences. I suppose a part of me was trying to recapture the first few nights, but try as I may nothing came close… Sounds a bit like an addiction right?
Well after a week had passed, I soon woke up and realisation hit… I left Airlie Beach that morning and headed north. My advice to you – experience the enigma that is Airlie Beach but move on sooner rather than later…