Most months there is a major event in the Whitsundays and there is nothing more frustrating than holidaying somewhere and missing something special. I remember being in Sydney on the weekend of the City to Surf, which I only found out about when the race started. At the time (I have since enjoyed a run in it) it was on my list of 100 things to do. The best way to keep track of what’s on in the Whitsundays is to visit www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au and click on the events calendar.
The local triathletes run two triathlons each year, plus there are also several regional races in Mackay and Bowen. The Airlie Beach triathlon is usually on in late August or early September, on a Sunday. It is a sprint distance triathlon (750m/20km/5km), a great scenic course and is well-supported by a strong local cheer squad. There is a junior triathlon on the day before, with the kids swimming in the lagoon.
Hamilton Island Triathlon
This is another world class event. It’s also a sprint distance, but the hills make it a little more challenging. The upside is that we swim along Catseye Beach in front of the resort and part of the three-lap cycle course includes approximately 4km along the airport runway. There is often training and coaching attached to the event in November, and a fabulous Whitehaven swim on one of the world's most picturesque beaches. There is a 750m and 2km race - come along and see if you can beat Ky Hurst's record.
Hamilton Island also runs a half-marathon in May, which, if you are a runner, must be done. Cruise Whitsunday offers a great rate for the transfers on the day. The course is a mixture of road running and track running and is tough. The views are outstanding - wait until you get to the top of Passage Peak or down to South Head – it is as good as anywhere in the world. I usually take an hour and 40 minutes for a half-marathon but have to add almost another hour for the Hammo half.
The Mackay Road Runners also open the Great Walk in September for a spectacular trail run. It is tough but really well organised. Steve Jackson won the race for the first four years but his record was broken in 2011 and a chap from Sydney won in under two hours. My record is 3:05.
Whitsunday Reef Festival
The Whitsunday Reef Festival starts with a wonderful night of fireworks on the beach, night markets and live music followed by a week of street parades, open-air bars, street parties and art exhibitions. This happens every year around the first week of August.
Airlie Beach Music Festival
This festival features a variety of bands from all over Australia for a weekend of live music set up in tents outside the Whitsunday Sailing Club. This festival takes place around the first week of November and you can find more information by visiting the website http://www.airliebeachfestivalofmusic.com.au/.