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New tour to be a ‘fantastic’ venture

By Mark Beale

LOOK out Hervey Bay, whale watching tours are coming to Airlie Beach.

From June to September for the first time yet, locals and visitors to the region will be able to hop on a dedicated whale watching boat from Port of Airlie to the Whitsunday islands and coast.

Apart from being a Whitsunday first, the other point of difference is the size of the boats.

A Maritimo 60 with a capacity for just 12 guests is the new option for full-day tours, with a price of $325 per person incorporating a barbecue lunch and stop at an iconic location such as Langford Island or Whitehaven Beach.

For those with less time on their hands, there are morning and afternoon tours on a fast Kevla Cat with a capacity for just eight guests at $150 each.

These boutique whale watching tours are the brainchild of Stewart and Carolyn Lewis from Ocean Dynamics.

Ms Lewis, who said the idea for the venture came to her while watching the whales amid last year’s Airlie Beach Race Week fleet, believes running smaller vessels will create a more intimate experience that guests will never forget.

She said every year during the winter months there was an abundance of whales, dolphins and

marine life “and last year I just thought wow, this is just a really unique opportunity to give visitors to Airlie Beach”.

Skipper Matt Fetzer, who has helmed boats in the Whitsundays for the past 13 years, said that to be involved in an inaugural venture like this was just “really exciting”.

Likewise, Whitsunday Regional Council’s Deputy Mayor Andrew Willcox, who attended last Friday’s launch, said he too thought it was a “fantastic” venture.

“I think it’s exciting and I can’t believe we haven’t had one here before, especially with the amount of whales that come through here in the season,” he said.

“And I think what’s really good about this is it’s a mainland-based activity that people can access from Airlie Beach. Plus in this size vessel you can take just your family and friends – it’s up-close and personal.”

Tours will start from June 20, or before if that’s when the first whales arrive.

Ms Lewis said she hoped her team would be the first to spot a 2015 season whale.

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