Why the Whitsundays?
The Whitsunday Islands are a natural wonder, found on the central coast of Queensland, just north of Mackay. The islands were formed after the last ice-age, when sea levels rose, separating a coastal mountain range to form 74 islands. This makes them the largest offshore island chain in Australia. Before the last ice age, the area was an extremely volcanic region, this is how the coastal mountain range was initially formed. Evidence of this past life can still be seen in the bedrock around the islands. The Whitsunday Islands have a rich indigenous history, being the home of the Ngaro Sea tribe for around 9000 years before European settlement.
The Whitsundays Today
Today, the Whitsunday Islands are a world-renowned idyllic holiday destination. Extremely popular with tourists from Australia and around the world, The Whitsundays attracts around 600,000 visitors a year. The most famous attraction is Whitehaven Beach. This iconic beach is a massive 7kms of 98% pure silica sand – the purest silica found naturally on Earth. The islands also feature; secluded and calm bays, fringing Great Barrier Reef coral systems straight off the islands, and an extremely biodiverse underwater world.
Queensland National Parks manage around 96% of the 300,000 ha of wooded hills, rocky headlands and shingle beaches, protecting the plants, animals and environment. There is a vast array of well-maintained, scenic walking trails on numerous islands, with ample places for wildlife and bird watching. The waters of the Whitsunday Islands are included under the protection of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which has had World Heritage Status since 1981. This protects the 4000 species of fish found in the region including many endangered species.