One of the more challenging walks on the islands is the climb up to Whitsunday Peak on Whitsunday Island. From Dugong Beach, there is a track that winds its way along the coast to Sawmill Beach, offering glimpses of azure water through the trees.
This is the easy part, for after pausing at Sawmill Beach to check out some rusty remnants of the old sawmill, you will start your ascent to the peak. Climbing through the dry rainforest with a high canopy was pleasant for the shade and dappled light. The track is long and steep, but generally well maintained. While the vegetation lacks variety during the climb, you will be quite busy enough looking where to put your feet to worry about it.
The Department of Environmental Resource Management have made a huge effort to build stairs from stones available in the area. It’s a long and steep track that could’ve taken a small prison gang countless months to construct.
At some points you might be thinking that you must be close to the end only to find the track just kept going up and up. Reaching the summit is quite an effort – sweating and puffing are guaranteed, but you will be rewarded with spectacular views in all directions. To the north, a vista overlooking northern Whitsunday Island and Hook Island. West to the Molle Group and South over Henning, Hamilton, Dent, Pentecost, Lindeman and Shaw Islands. Eastward you will see Haslewood and Border Islands.
On the climb down, care must be taken to avoid twists or sprains injuries due to fatigue. The total trip will take approximately five hours and once you return you can enjoy a well deserved rest under the shade of pandanus trees, looking out over Whitsunday Passage from Dugong Beach.
Camping is permitted at Dugong Beach and while quite small you could reasonably expect to have the company of one or two other groups. If you are after a more private experience you could take the boat a little way down Cid Harbour to Nari’s and Joe’s Beaches. A little more intimate than the one at Dugong Beach, they are smaller sites with smaller beaches and slightly less inspiring outlooks (still pretty good compared to most mainland sites). Nari’s beach would be ideal for a small group of about 6 friends or family.
Cid is a popular anchorage (stopping point) with yachtsmen because it affords good protection from most winds, which equates to calm waters and a generally peaceful sleep after watching the sun set behind Cid Island.
The location is one that’s known some Australian history. The hoop pines that sometimes give the area a Scandinavian feel were logged and milled here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Later it had a role as a meeting and mooring point for Australian and US warships during the 2nd World War.