Cid Harbour’s mixed fame

There is the scenic side of Cid Harbour, particularly when viewed from the summit of Whitsunday Peak, a climb we did a few days ago, and then there is the frightening side of Cid Harbour where two people got mauled by sharks this week.


Cid Harbour is a popular protected bay on the western side of the Whitsunday Island. It is an easy, convenient spot to anchor because it is large, shallow and can shelter many dozens of boats quite comfortably. Sawmill Beach in the center of the bay is also the start of two nice walks; one is the short and flattish amble to Dugong Beach, the other is the steep climb to iconic Whitsunday Peak. The Peak is well worth the effort because it offers panoramic views of the islands once you reach the top.

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Panoramic looking west from Cid Island to Dugong Inlet

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Looking northeast with Border Island in the distance

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Looking south, with Gulnare Inlet in the foreground and the high rises of Hamilton Island in the background

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Sawmill Beach Anchorage – can you spot TIE?

You certainly don’t go to Cid Harbour for privacy, that’s for sure. And now you don’t go there for a swim either! As most of our Australian followers will have heard, a lady and a child were badly bitten by a shark on the thigh in two separate accidents on two consecutive days. We heard all the commotion on the marine radio as their rescues were unfolding. Both were airlifted by helicopter to Mackay then Brisbane and are reportedly in serious but stable condition.

It was shocking to hear, but at the same time not totally surprising. The water has been quite turbid around the Whitsundays. Imagine pouring milk in turquoise water and that is what it looks like around the islands – you cannot see what lurks under your hulls. Not far from Cid Harbour are Nara and Macona Inlets on Hook Island. These are reputed to be spawning ground for Hammerheads, not the best spot for swimming!

Everybody says it is unusual that a single shark will attack repeatedly and fishermen have reported catching large sharks in the days prior to the accidents. So there are a few of these beasties around. Nobody knows exactly what type of shark did the damage but among the most likely sharks to attack people, bull sharks favor shallow waters – the same places humans prefer to swim. Tiger sharks also have a duly earned reputation for being man-eaters. Both will attack people inadvertently, but once bitten their victim suffer huge blood loss which can be fatal.

Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark – Photography by Brian Skerry, National Geographic Creative


Bull Shark – Photography by Mattias Klum, National Geographic Creative

The Fisheries Department have set up baited drum lines and caught two tiger sharks! Stay out of the water in that bay!

We must admit that as we sit out a blow in Woodwark Bay, a mainland bay north of Airlie Beach with our friend Sue on board, we are feeling a little timid. Let’s hope the weather improves and we can return to the clear waters of the reef!

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Woodwark Bay

14 thoughts on “Cid Harbour’s mixed fame

  1. Great shots, as usual, Chris – you got a clearer day than we’ve ever had – the walk to Whitsunday Peak is one of the highlights of the area (we’ve done it twice). We would never swim in Cid Harbour – and certainly not in turbid water – I can’t imagine what inspired the dips. Of course, it is officially crocodile country as well, not that the tourist brochures advertise that. I have to say the response of the authorities we found a bit disappointing – the water is the domain of it’s inhabitants – and humans are not one of them. Having said all that – we are looking forward to getting back to the Whitsunday’s next season. Cheers Trish

    • Hiya Trish – at least the rescue response was impressive and the two victims are alive. They each took an hour and a half to get out of CID Harbour… a long time when you have a life threatening injury.

      I don’t recall the water being so murky in previous years. Do you?

      • Hi Chris,
        Yes, I will say the rescue effort was impressive and glad of the result so far – it would be tragic to lose a human life. However it is tragic to lose any life – human or otherwise – and they don’t even know if the slaughtered animals were responsible! I wonder what the victims will think of the official response? Both seasons that we’ve been in Cid Harbour the water has been reasonably clear – but I still wouldn’t swim in it – there are clearer beaches to swim at in the Whitsundays where you can keep a better eye out for visitors with teeth.

      • We don’t think the sharks should have been slaughtered either, we are in their environment. As for snorkeling in turbid water and dusk… perfect recipe…

  2. Such beautiful places and I well guarded by huge sharks! I’ll be on vacation with my family for a week, I’ll resume blogging on Oct. 1st! Take care my friend… 🙂

  3. The Pano photos are so beautiful, and I did find TIE down there. It’s very sad about the woman and child, I hope they make a full recovery.

  4. Cid Harbour with shorts, t-shirts, and tiger sharks. Melbourne with down jackets, 6mm wetsuit, and naughty dolphins that knock you off your kiteboard. Not a hard choice to make at the moment. Is Wadey still having a morning plunge?

    • Hiya Greg, nice to get your comment. No morning dips… no so invigorating at 23.5 degrees. We are avoiding CID Harbour, but are all having afternoon plunges before G&T in Woodwark Bay, as usual! You know how it goes with showers on the sugar scooops…. The cheeky dolphins sound like fun!

  5. Our thoughts are with the victims of this tragedy. Our old Jarcat friends were part of Macgregor & Mach 28 TS . Group which the Dr was there with.
    I suppose you are heading south now the SE’s have abated.

    • Hi Mick, still hanging around the Whitsundays for a week or so. Have been hiding from the strong SE, but we are hoping to go back to the reef with Sue.

      Small world with the rescue…

  6. Talking with a friend who spoke with the shark contractor from Mackay who was contracted to set the drum lines the tigers were full with turtles. Tigers are well known to frequent Turtle nesting areas. eg Rain Island where Ben Cropp got plenty of Tiger underwater footage.

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