WHITSUNDAY NGARO SEA TRAIL
Long ago, in the dreamtime, before the land and people, there was only the vast blue of the sea and a huge snake, the rainbow serpent. One day, the rainbow serpent passed through the water laying her eggs as she went, which created the islands.
The islands were rich with seafood: turtles, shellfish, reef fish, and dugongs, and offered good protection, shelter and freshwater to the first people to inhabit the area – the Ngaro people. They were a seafaring tribe that lived among the islands for more than 9000 years, travelling about in paperbark canoes. As the sea levels rose and the islands and Great Barrier Reef became further away from the mainland, they continued to venture across the sea. The word Ngaro means miss, can’t see or vanishing in Maori and Tahitian, and while they are Polynesian languages, it is possible it was similar in aboriginal languages, and reflected the times they “vanished” out to sea and across to the islands.
The Ngaro Sea Trail, takes you all over the best bits of the Whitsundays and offers a glimpse into Ngaro culture and heritage.
On Whitsunday Island, the trail takes you from Cid Harbour along a beachside track to Dugong Beach, and up a fairly steep, heart-starting trail to Whitsunday Peak for 360 degree views of the islands. We were lucky to have a break in the bad weather when we climbed up to peak, and the view was worth every step and slippery wet boulder we had to clamber over. Along the way we spotted little lizards and big goannas, tiny mushrooms and giant hoop pines. One of the best bushwalks we’ve done so far.
From there, the trail heads across to Hook Island. Nara Inlet is a safe anchorage and the rock caves along the higher ground would have provided welcome shelter for the Ngaro people and their canoes, while the nearby waterfall would have provided fresh water. We anchored in Nara Inlet a couple of times, and walked along the short boardwalk to a cave that houses aboriginal rock art, and climbed up to the waterfall for a dip.
The trail then passes through Hook Passage around to the jewel of the Whitsundays: Whitehaven Beach. As we were dropping anchor in nearby Tongue Bay, a couple of curious dugongs surfaced to check us out. We ate lunch on the front tramps while they frolicked around just metres from the boat, then headed ashore for the short walk up to the lookout for spectacular views of Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach. The white silica sand against the turquoise water provides a stunning contrast just like you see in all the postcards. The trail continued down to Betty’s Beach where we swam with turtles and lagoon rays.
Swimming in waterfalls, magical moments with nature, and postcard-worthy views. This is the Whitsunday magic we have been patiently waiting for! We’ll be in the Whitsundays for a few more days, and then continuing our journey north.
*Shout out to the freshwater yabbie that nearly bit me on the bum in the Nara Inlet waterfall…