There is much to think about when planning a trip to the islands, not the least of which is finding adequate supplies of fresh food and fuel.
Finding Fuel in the Whitsundays
Depending on the size and style of your boat, you can choose from a few different places to get fuel.
If you’re in a trailerable boat, there are a few petrol stations to choose from and you’ll probably want the one closest to your preferred launching ramp to avoid carting extra weight further than you need to. Shute Harbour, for example, has a petrol station very conveniently located about 150 metres from where you launch. If launching a boat at the public ramp at Abel Point Marina, the closest petrol stations are on Shute Harbour Road in Cannonvale. Head southwest from the marina for a few kms to find the Shell or BP stations there.
If you did not trail the boat, or you need to refuel on the water, you would need to go to either Meridian Marina at Abel Point, or to Hamilton Island (where everything comes with a premium pricetag). The refueling wharf at the Abel Point Marina is located underneath the main building in the middle of the marina, not far from the public boat ramp.
Getting fuel at the marina requires that you call the marina office (the number is written on signs at the fuel wharf). That’s only open at certain times, so fuel in the early morning or in the evening isn’t an option.
Finding Food Supplies in the Whitsundays
Groceries in Airlie Beach proper is a bit expensive and has limited choice, so you may be best heading into larger supermarkets at The Whitsunday Shopping Centre in Cannonvale for example. The Whitsunday Shopping Centre on Shute Harbour Road also has a number of other handy shops like a chemist, bottle shop, Tandy, banks, etc. Look for the place with the white sails that shade the carpark out front.
Alternatively you can go a little further to the Centro shopping complex on the outskirts of Cannonvale, which has an even wider array of outlets, including a big BCF (Boating, Camping, Fishing) store.
There is also an IGA in Jubilee Pocket, with a Bottle-o next door. This is OK if you’re not too fussy about what kind of foods you want. It’s not as big as a Coles or Woolworths.
If you would like to spoil yourself and maximise your holiday time, get someone else to put together a tailored grocery shop, complete with recipes and deliver it to your wharf of choice. Check out Whitsunday Provisioning if you want to get someone else to worry about your food.
Sometimes the effort of hauling your boat out of the water just to top up your supplies is too great. So, what are the alternatives?
Both Shute Harbour and Abel Point have places you can leave your boat while you hop ashore. Hamilton Island is also a viable alternative.
At Shute, you’ll need to arrange a mooring if your boat is 5 metres or more, otherwise you can tie it up at the anglers wharf near the ramp for a few hours while you resupply. Call the Harbour Master to make arrangements for a mooring.
Getting water for a bigger boat at Shute is less convenient than at Abel Point. There is a tap at the boat ramp and one on the anglers wharf, but neither of these is appropriate for getting more than about 60 Litres of water. Access may be restricted by various fishermen, other dinghies tied to the wharf, the tap that turns itself off… you get the picture. If you are schlepping jerry cans, you can go back to the ramp.
There are Whitsunday Transit buses that regularly run as far as Cannonvale if you want to go that far. Else there is an IGA at Jubilee Pocket (closer than Airlie Beach) where you can get fresh veg and non-esoteric groceries. Download the schedule at the Whitsunday Transit website.
At Abel Point you can usually grab a spot on the Marina providing it’s not too busy. If you just need some more grog, there’s a conveniently located bottle shop right at the marina. It’s also not too far away from the shops at Cannonvale. Call the harbour master there to book a spot. Water is piped out to the births, so that’s the easier place to go to top up larger vessels, unless you happen to be near Hamilton Island.
“Hammo” has a good harbour and marina and for about $60 a night can make a reasonable resupply destination. There is a fuel wharf, water, ship chandlery and even some groceries (though nothing like a Coles or Woolies for choice). Just remember because everything has to be shipped to Hamilton Island, it’s more costly than on the mainland. There’s a great selection of restaurants too if you fancy a night off from one-pot dishes on the little stove.
In a pinch, many resorts can provide some basics like ice, bread and milk. Check 100 Magic Miles (the book) if you want to know which ones. You’ll also find radio frequencies and phone numbers for all the various harbour masters in there too.