Airlie, Bowen and Charters Towers are budget friendly getaway destinations offering great insights into authentic Australia.
Using Ayr as a base in North Queensland keeps you within about a 2 hour drive to these mini-break destinations.
A is for Airlie Beach
About two hours south of Ayr is Airlie. It’s a great little town completely devoted to tourism and making sure you have a good time. It is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, and there’s loads of associated activities available here. Be aware though that these are usually pretty expensive.
If you’re working within a budget, Airlie has enough to offer for a short stay. The Lagoon is gorgeous and provides a free swimming spot away from stingers and crocs.
A gentle stroll along the boardwalk takes you to Sorrento Restaurant and Bar
Enjoy a very civilized Cosmo as you ponder the beauty of life.
B is for Bowen
Bowen is a lot quieter than expected, except Horseshoe Bay, which is uncomfortably crowded. The town is very spread out, so it’s not really pedestrian friendly.
However, the sunsets are beautiful, this is significant because most places in Queensland face east and so you don’t get an ocean sunset. During a visit, the best place for dinner is Coral Cove You can stay there too, but it’s a bit expensive. There’s plenty of cheaper Airbnb options.
The fishing in Bowen has potential. I’ve heard there’s lots of good fishing, but after several hours hanging around the end of the jetty and elsewhere on a bunch of rocks, one small fish was all that was had. It was sent back to the deep.
C is for Charters Towers
Being a sucker for a hill, great op-shopping and a good steak, I really enjoy a Charters Towers trip.
This town is very country Australian where just about every second bloke is in mole skins and an Akubra hat. The old mining town has a special feel due to the architecture left from the gold rush days.
This is the heart of cattle country, so expect one of the best steaks of your life. The Cattleman’s Rest is a comfy motel with an awesome steakhouse restaurant, but it’s not in the center of town. For a dose of old world charm, try dining at the Park Hotel. You’ll be transported back to the age of boarding house dining rooms filled with frilly knick-knacks and starched tablecloths. The rest if the place is being re-furbished, but for now is home to FIFO workers who eat their dinners in a more low-key room in front of the telly.
OK, so the hill wasn’t that great. But the op-shopping was fabulous, with proper, real vintage clothing. After sampling them all, I recommend the Red Cross shop in the main street. A trip into Titleys is also part of the cultural experience in Charters Towers. It is a locally run almost-department store that has been in business since the 1920’s. There are surprisingly flamboyant shirts, and a lot of stylish women’s clothes and accessories, some great bargains to be had if there’s a sale on.