A Whirlwind Whitsunday Trip With Paul Pichugin

28 November 2014

I phoned Paul to chat about his recent trip with Flight Centre to The Whitsundays. The avid nomad took my call from Streaky Bay, one of the last towns in South Australia before you hit the Nullarbor Plain, about 2,500 kilometres from his home in Western Australia.

On the road with his wife, five month old and 22 month old babies, the pair are adventurous wayfarers to say the least!

Read below to hear all about Paul’s trip to The Whitsundays with Flight Centre...

 The Whitsundays by air

Have you always done a lot of travelling or has it just been since Instagram really took off?

No, I’ve always done a lot of travel. My Dad was in the military so we always moved around and did a lot of driving, I guess I’ve just carried on with it. I want my kids to have that same experience.

Was this your first time to the Whitsundays?

My first time out to the islands, but I’ve been to Airlie Beach before.

 Meet the friendly locals

If you had to sum up how the Whitsundays feel in 5 words, what would they be?

Cruisey, chilled, fun, relaxing, secluded... It’s just great! I really enjoyed it.

So you did a reef tour and a seaplane tour, what other activities did you get up to?

I did a lot of hiking to find good locations for sunrise and sunsets. Lots of sightseeing, and swimming of course was a highlight too.

 Your chariot awaits

Were you able to swim on all the beaches? What with the stingers and stonefish?

At certain times of year they can be on certain beaches, but not all of them. It’s more of a problem on Airlie Beach than on the islands. I didn’t come across any stonefish, nor did I get stung.

So, the resorts you stayed in, you can just wander straight into the ocean and swim?

Depends on the tide, on Hamilton Island for example, you wouldn’t probably swim at lowtide because the shoreline is miles away!

 I spy the Heart Reef

What was your favourite activity in time in the Whitsundays?

Snorkelling. If I ever go back, that’s definitely something I’d do again. We went out via boat to Hook Island to snorkel, it was fantastic. I loved the seaplane too.

Is there something you didn’t get to do that you’d go back to experience?

When you’re working the schedule can be quite tight. So I’d like to go back and stay in some of the places longer, in particular Hayman Island, where you can hike around the island and find some really great reefs to snorkel to straight off the island, and some great beaches too.

 Find serenity in the rainforest on Hayman Island

Did you get a good mix of nature? Beaches vs. rainforest?

Hayman Island has it's own rainforest which I thought was pretty cool. There are plenty of beaches and bush, and lots of nice places to take a walk or a hike. It’s also a hard choice between the resort pool or the beach, thankfully I was able to enjoy both!

You stayed at three different hotels, which was your favourite?

Whitsunday Apartments had a great view; I stayed on the top floor and had an awesome 180 degree view of beaches on Hamilton Island. My favourite hotel however was on Hayman Island.

 Not a bad view to wake up to at Whitsunday Apartments

Which hotels are best suited to families / couple / singles?

Blue Horizons on Airlie Beach would be great for families, they have lots of facilities. Or Whitsunday Apartments on Hamilton Island. For couples I’d recommend going straight to Hayman Island if they can afford it, it’s an amazing spot. For singles, Reef View Hotel has spacious rooms that would be well suited to groups of friends, or family for that matter too.

Was it easy to get around from island to island?

Fairly easy. There are plenty of boats and ferries to get between most islands, which run regularly. On the way back to Airlie Beach, I took the ferry from Hamilton Island, we also stopped in at Daydream Island and Long Island on the way. You can also take the scenic route and travel via seaplane. Those are just passenger ferries. There is a vehicle ferry that runs from Shute Harbour to Hamilton Island, but it’s mostly for gold buggies or service vehicles as there aren’t many official roads on the islands.

 Make tracks the Whitsundays

Any stand out or ‘magical moments’ on the trip?

Being a photographer, my primary objective on any trip is all about ‘getting the shot’. The best moment for this was getting photos of the hill inlet on Whitehaven Beach. I was on the seaplane, and I didn’t quite get the shot I wanted on the way in. I chatted to the pilot and he circled back around a couple of times on the way out – which was really nice – he didn’t have to do it at all, but he was nice enough do it. We circled three times, until he yelled out ‘have you got your shot?’ to which I responded, ‘I’ve got plenty now, thanks!’ and off we went back to Hamilton Island. I was really happy with the photos, the best I got from the entire trip were probably right there and then.
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About Paul Pichugin

Paul Pichugin is a Landscape, Travel and Commercial Photographer based in Western Australia’s amazing South West. Paul loves to travel, experiencing other cultures, connecting with people and exploring new places. He has travelled extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Egypt, Jordan and United Arab Emirates. His photography has been featured in publications internationally, been used in national and international tourism campaigns and also across several major TV networks.
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Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.