Airlie Beach, Australia

Airlie Beach lagoon with bathers, Australia

Airlie Beach with free and fantastic lagoon

Why visit Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach market, Australia

Airlie’s actual beach, and market edge.

Airlie Beach is gateway to the spectacularly beautiful Whitsunday Islands, offers superb yachting, snorkelling, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and is home to one of the world’s best free swimming pools – built as an alternative to the pleasantly warm but deadly critter infested waters around this part of Australia’s eastern coastline. No swimming in the sea without a stinger suit!
Other options include horse riding (no, not in the sea), sky diving and rainforest tours.

Airlie is a popular backpacker destination as well as honeymoon target and squats on the regular bus or car route up/down the east coast between Cairns and Brisbane.

Airlie Beach main street, Australia

Airlie Beach’s main street, Shute Harbour Road.

Contrary to popular myth, Airlie Beach does in fact have a beach, visible above along with a distant Saturday craft market. . . It’s just you wouldn’t want to swim there unless you had a passion for groping toxic boxes.

Airlie Beach warnings

Airlie Beach stinger warning sign, Australia

Airlie Beach jellyfish warning.

Hazardous Marine Creatures
High risk period November- May.
Area of danger: North Queensland, NW Australia, Northern Territory. If in doubt treat as Irukandji. Douse stings with vinegar; provide emergency care, CPR if necessary, seek medical aid. Call 000 for ambulance.

Very nasty marine life

Chironex, aka Box Jellyfish. Appearance: box shaped with 4 corners, 25-30cms diameter. Up to 15 ribbon-like tentacles growing from 4 corners. Tentacles may extend up to 3 metres. Symptoms: Severe burning skin pain; sting marks are like whip and appear as burn marks on skin. Adherent tentacles are often present. Victim may stop breathing. Treatment: Dial 000 and send someone to get help. Provide emergency care, CPR if necessary. Douse stings with vinegar. Seek medical aid.

Irukandji. Appearance: small box shape, 12mms diameter, 1 tentacle in each corner from a few cms to 1 metre long. Transparent and usually not seen. Symptoms: Initially mild and difficult to see, maybe goose bumps and localized sweating. Later severe back ache, muscle cramps, nausea, feeling of dread 20-30 minutes after sting. Treatment: as Box Jelly above.

Australian Fast Bowlers. Appearance: humanoid but bigger and with powerful tentacles on upper section. Difficult to spot due to motion blur. Symptoms: sharp pains in the leg, arm, chest and any unprotected area, with swelling, sweating and nausea. Later severe back ache, muscle cramps, depression, feeling of dread. Treatment: a bottle of Scottish whisky, a packet of ibuprofen, retirement and a trip home as fast as possible.

Not particularly nice marine life

Morbakka, aka Tomoya, Fire Jelly, Moreton Bay Stinger. Appearance: Large ‘box’ shaped jellyfish, bell up to 16cm high, 14cm wide. 1 thick tentacle in each corner, up to 1 metre long. Symptoms: Burning, itching pain. Wide, raised pink welts with surrounding bright red skin. Occasionally ‘Irukandji’-like symptoms. Treatment: Douse entire sting with 2 litres of vinegar whether tentacles are visible or not. Apply ice pack after 10 minutes, reapply later if necessary.

Cyanea, aka Hairjelly, Snotty. Appearance: Large flat bell 4-30cms in diameter. Large mop of hair-like tentacles underneath, 5-50cms long. Bell top may be white and/or have yellow/brown colour underneath. Symptoms: Minor skin burning with multiple raised welts. Treatment: Douse with vinegar whether tedntacles are visible or not. Apply ice pack after 10 minutes and reapply later if skin pain persists.

Catostylus, aka Blubber. Appearance: Mushroom-shaped bell 5-30cms in diameter. No tentacles, but 8 frills hanging underneath. Symptoms: Minor skin burning with red blotchy rash. Treatment: as Cyanea, above.

Physalia, aka Blue-bottle, Portuguese man-o-war. Appearance: Air-filled sack up to 8cm long with single long tentacle up to 1 metre and numerous shorter tentacles. Symptoms: Burning skin pain, single raised white welt with ‘beading’ effect, occasional breathing difficulty. Treatment: as Cyanea, above.

n. b. These stingers are not found commonly, except perhaps for the last and least troublesome, the Blue-bottle. Australian authorities are safety-conscious and well-organized so on most public beaches if there is danger there will be warning notices and/or stinger nets.
Snorkel and dive tours will supply stinger suits when appropriate.
Don’t be tempted to show you’ve got cojones by swimming without protection in a danger zone, you could be in for a painful surprise that would really blow your cool.