11th October 2017
Children's author Casey Hawkins was shocked by the incredibly warm welcome she received in the Whitsundays - so much so that her week-long visit has become a months-long stay with no desire to leave. Acknowledging the perks of having a job that allows you to work wirelessly from almost anywhere, Hawkins drove a campervan to the Whitsundays in mid-July intending to stay for just a couple of weeks, but the welcome that she received has seen her continuing to settle in months later.
It's not just the spectacular natural environment that's keeping her here though. Hawkins credits the friendly locals with her extended stay. The striking ocean view that she had come to love soon began to lose its shine as she spent weekends indoors and alone. Turning to a local social media community, she introduced herself and her interests and was soon flooded with offers of friendship, sightseeing, coffee dates and community activities.
Hitting it off with one local in particular, Hawkins began to regularly spend time with her new friend who understood the difficulty in connecting with people and forming relationships when living in a popular holiday destination that is often flooded with tourists who are here and then gone in a matter of days. Taking up a local family on the offer of joining them on a trip to Hook Island, Hawkins was thrilled with the experience.
Joining the family of four, who were no strangers to 'strangers' having offered up their house to stranded backpackers after Cyclone Debbie, Hawkins delighted in her time spent on Hook Island. The perfect end to her extended stay in the Whitsundays, she now believes that the heart marking the entrance to Airlie Beach represents much more than the just the scenery to fall in love with, but also the friendly community that embraces all visitors as warmly as the tropical sun.