Spot Queensland’s heart
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Why ogle other people’s pictures of Heart Reef when you can take your own? Seen only from the air, this heart-shaped coral bommie on the Great Barrier Reef is arguably the star attraction on flights and tours operated by Air Whitsunday. The ideal way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the region is to book a tour that combines a scenic flight with coral viewing from a glass-bottom boat and snorkelling in a sheltered lagoon.
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The turquoise waters surrounding Fitzroy Island beg to be explored every which way. On a day tour with Cairns Dive Adventures, transfer to this unspoilt Great Barrier Reef isle by catamaran and then take to the water under your own steam on a guided sea kayaking tour. Later, snorkel in waters inhabited by clown fish and turtles or explore coral beaches, mangroves, open woodland and rainforest via five main walking trails.
Catch of the day
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Bragging rights could be yours when you weigh in after a day of game fishing in the waters off Port Douglas. Book a sole charter with Fishing Port Douglas and set off in a custom-made vessel to tangle with marine monsters such as marlin, tuna and giant trevally that will put up a spectacular fight. Consult the online fishing calendar and time it right to nab the catch of the day.
Golfing on the reef
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When you tee off at Australia’s only 18-hole championship golf course with its own island, the biggest challenge is keeping your eye on the ball and not the breathtaking views of the Whitsunday Islands and Coral Sea. Hamilton Island Golf Club on Dent Island is one for the golfer’s bucket list, its challenging course designed around ridges and steep valleys. Hats off to those who conquer the wicked winds, thick bushland and “Valley of Death” (aka 14th hole). Image: facebook.com/hamiltonislandgolf
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Make like Tarzan, chest-beating your way through the Daintree Rainforest at Cape Tribulation on a guided zipline tour with Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours. Experience this ancient tropical rainforest (more than 100 million years old) from the perspective of a tree kangaroo as you zipline between six canopy platforms up to 19.5 metres high. Interpretive talks on each platform mean you can learn about flora and fauna on the fly.
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Release your inner thrillseeker on a tandem skydive, jumping from a plane up to 15,000 feet and landing on the sand at Rainbow Beach. The higher you fly, the more freefall time – and the better your bird’s-eye view of the stunning coloured sands of this Fraser Coast beach. Take the leap with experienced instructors at Skydive Rainbow Beach and then souvenir photos and DVDs of your skydive to relive the adrenaline rush. Image: facebook.com/SkydiveRamblersRainbowBeach
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If you’re looking for some friendly competition on the water, Whitsunday Sailing Club (07 4946 6138) at Airlie Beach invites visitors to join in Wednesday twilight social racing. Simply call beforehand and be at the club by 3pm to join a crew on an offshore monohull. After doing a few thrilling (and winning) laps around Pioneer Bay, join your new-found yachtie friends for drinks, dinner and race presentations at the club.
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When passenger ship SS Yongala sank in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast from Alva in 1911 and remained undiscovered for half a century, the marine megafauna moved in. Today, the coral-encrusted wreck is a dive site famous for the number and diversity of large marine creatures. If you’re a certified scuba diver, join Yongala Dive for an amazing day of diving with gropers, marble rays, trevally, barracuda, eagle rays and sea turtles.