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Airlie Beach, 1122 km north of Brisbane, is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. In 1987 Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour and Cannonvale were incorporated into the new town of Whitsunday. In the 1960s, Airlie Beach consisted
 
of a single shop and a small group of holiday shacks. The 1970s and 1980s then saw an influx of residents with a corresponding growth in visitors. The trend has continued, and the completion of Lake Proserpine, a dam on the Proserpine River, will ensure a plentiful water supply for agriculture and the growing population. The local population -now 1440Ñand visitors are well catered for by restaurants and top-quality holiday accommodation.

The tropical island resorts of Hayman, Hamilton, Daydream and South Molle, to name a few of the 74 islands that are just off the coast of Whitsunday and which lie inside the Great Barrier Reef, are only some of the attractions of the area. Sunshine, blue water and sandy beaches are the theme of the Whitsundays. Here you can hire a yacht and cruise the clear waters between the islands; take a seaplane out to the Great Barrier Reef for a snorkel; or try your skills at sea kayaking. On shore, the nearby Conway National Park, known for butterflies, is also worth a visit.

The calm, protected waters lend themselves to a variety of boating events, and these include the Hamilton Island Race Week in August, the Great Whitsunday Fun Race in September, the Grand Prix Series for 18-foot skiffs, and the Hayman Big Boat Race.

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