So these words are written a week or so after the fact. How quickly the memories of holidays fade but I’ll do my best to recall the details.
Palm bay resort lies on the west side of Long Island and I think the closest of the islands to Shute harbour(main land). Long Island has a number of walks maintained by the National parks.
Tracks here are decent. I would not recommend thongs tho. The ground is rocky and thicker, sturdier soles are required. But perhaps you have stronger, more accustomed feet to mine.
A little rocky and steep , best take good shoes and water.
These walks are not as vast as once were and the ‘circuits’ are now just the two main branches North and South. With the cyclone activity up here there is much to be rebuilt so bare in mind as per my previous disclaimer things are ever on the change and this particular account is as I found it.
Pretty much the view from just in front of the Sandy Bay camping site. I could easily wake up to this each morning.
Branch 1 takes you South to Sandy bay
Sandy bay is, I believe, the only camping destination on the island and is well worth the short 3k hike. The path has some moderate inclines taking you up over and through the rainforest. As with many of the paths there is unfortunately only few glimpses, between trees, of the magnificent beach and islands vistas that you know are there.
A break in the trees provides amazing vistas
I often found myself wishing for a few less foreground trees or perhaps a platform to view the amazing scenery which lies just beyond. Sandy bay is however well worth the walk.
Mangroves reclaiming the beach
Whilst mangroves are present fringing the edges it is still mostly a beautiful large, shallow, sandy and open beach. We must have walked 5oom out into the bay and still only in knee depth of water at low tide.
Knee deep at low tide
The track ends at this beach but its a terrific place for a picnic lunch and a snooze in the warm sand. Jacqui spotted a rustling behind us in the form of a most gorgeous lace monitor.
We also spotted a family of curlews that were clever enough to avoid my lens. The mangrove pictured further up above suddenly blossomed to life with the iridescent blue of a kingfisher. As can bee seen from my ‘foot’ picture he was a fair ways off and the 400mm lens did not quite have the reach but we watched him for quite a while catching a feast of crabs.
Kingfisher on the hunt
Kingfisher on the hunt
Kingfisher on the hunt
Kingfisher on the hunt
Just prior to heading back, we noticed this ‘clump’ on the end of one of the branches I believe it to be an ants nest.
Ants nest, a most clever architecture.
We fully intended taking this walk again but somehow never found the time. Would have loved to have seen it in high tide.
North to Happy bay..
singpost on the way back
Heading North is the easier shorter of the tracks. The uphill trek at either ends of the compass are steep but short. About midway along, it splits west to Fish bay and East to Pandanus. But we will continue North for now.
The iconic pier(closed and unstable now) of Long Island Resort
Long Island resort..Closed..
The semi abandoned resort around the bend at Happy bay is no longer as happy as maybe it once was and reminds us of how edge like the balance is here. A window into better times, now closed perhaps for good.
NO Entry, This is as close as the fences and ropes allow.
A caretaker resides keeping the place from complete desolation but perhaps this is a game against time we will loose. It’s that catch 22, enough of the infrastructure still viable but would take a good helping of restoration to make it a tourist destination again. Such a shame.
Life is still in abundance here of course as the rainforest slowly crawls into and reclaims the resort for its own.
Curlew in wonder of mans heavy burden and necessities for life
When we first arrived a raven was hard at work claiming the beach.
Raven seeing off a goanna.
the beach however is still a gorgeous place to visit.
Happy bay once had many happy returns no doubt
Tide times are important here, just as they are around many of the Whitsunday Islands. The water can wade out 6m, leaving an expanse of sandy, rocky or silty beach. This also has a large impact on the colour. Deep turquoise gives way to a sandy brown almost desolate scape within a few hours of the sea drifting out.
The beach looked deserted and it took a while to realise it was constantly moving. Alive, swaying this way and that as a sea of crabs swarmed over its surface. Like miniature martians they swarm over the exposed sea bed in search of food
Little beasts are hard to capture too. Each step closer you take to them, they scurry underground.
A pied oystercatcher wandered past in search of a bite
Like a washed up coral the resort is a shadow of its former self.
A sign of man and perhaps the hope of rebuilding.
The beach of the old resort of long island is accessible via the track but be mindful access to the resort itself is off limits.
Long Island circuit-Closed Not found.
We did not have the time to search for this track which I actually think starts in the resort and with it being closed may be hard to or impossible to walk. We began to head back south.
Round Hill circuit-Closed
We did find the remains of the sign. The old track is well overgrown and roped off.
The track to the resort splits before the fence and you can trek up to humpty point. The rock outcrop is snugly surrounded by trees and view is hampered. Would be a terrific spot for small tower and outlook. There is little reward for the climb up.
The secret of Pandanus bay
Is worth a visit and I feel is kept a little secret. The snorkling here ‘would’ be exceptional as I’ll describe later but mention here first that with no ‘protection’ from the resort and a fair hike to anyone, you are very much on your own. I watched just off the bay where it starts to head into the channel between two Islands and you can see the currents. I watched a sea turtle vigorously swimming and not getting far against these currents. You have been warned. We visited this beach a number of times(and ha hmm from a number of directions) and it can change. One particular day it was very choppy and very much a no go zone but on others with the tide just right the water is magnificent and contains a multitude of fish and coral.
Tidal bridge to Pelican Island
Why do I know this? No I did not snorkel but did take the walk across the tidal bridge to Pelican Island. From here you look back and into the waters of the bay.
We had scouted this area a few days and knew the tides. That is your warning!. Again I proclaim, “there is no one around to hear you scream for help”. Parts of the island are also subject to landfall, the rocky outcrops we walked on could break free. I consider myself fairly experienced in this sort of thing yet still I did not go alone, left messages as to where we were and kept vigilant.
Looking back towards Pandanus bay
Once on the island you can’t easily circumnavigate it and the southern side is quite bland compared to the northern or inner bay side anyway. We spent most of our time on the inner or bay side. Deep channels of water provided amazing scenes of fish.
fish a plenty in this fishermans basket
Of course I did not have my polariser lens and of course I did not have my gopro to lower in so this is the best I have. you will just have to trust my word.
Or perhaps this turtle is proof enough.
Lovely in and around the inner rocks of Pelican Island. Quickly gets deep with strong currents.
Another brief picnic with this sort of view and we headed back across the tidal bridge.
This area would have been the ‘back’ beach of the long island resort and there are still remains of man.
Remnants of another time
Ghostbusters! A warning perhaps we walk these rocks with intrepitude.
Heading back to Pandanus bay and the track back to our resort.
oh I’m beached bro so beached!
Fish bay very much reclaimed by the mangroves
But a quick look at Fish bay. Heading back across to the Western side of Long island we have Fish bay. Pretty thick with mangroves, not a lot to be had here.
Thats pretty much it for the two tracks north and south from Palm bay resort. Easy morning or afternoon walks and great for a picnic. There is plenty of washed up rubbish along the rocks, so do a thing for nature and take an extra bag , grab what you can and dispose of it correctly so we can try and keep this area pristine for others. We did encounter one snake that rushed across our path so do remember this is the bush. Be bush savvy.