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This document was last updted on: 22/05/23



Please find our Essential Event Information Document, containing what we hope is a comprehensive outlook towards your journey later this year. If you have not done already, do ensure you are fully conversant with the website and then pour yourself a cup of tea of coffee (or something a little stronger!) and read on…





GMT (+10)






Australian Dollars $


  • MEETING IN AIRLIE BEACH: We will meet at Coral Sea Marina on Sunday 13/8/23 at 10:00 am.


  • Event Details  Form: To be submitted by 30th June 2023.

  • Medical Form:  To be filled out by 30th June 2023, preferably sooner if any known issues.


  • Snacks: You will need 5 day’s worth of scooby snacks PLUS one day of contingency – 6 days total. See below in the relevant section for what we provide and how we suggest you augment this with some simple snacks of your own. 


  •  Kit: Please make sure you read the kit list in detail and start putting your kit together now to avoid any last minute stresses in August. We’ll go through the kit in more detail during the webinar in June.

  • Insurance: You need insurance. You will need a policy which includes medical evacuation by air and sea and has a minimum of $500 000 trip cover on it. You will submit this to us pre-event and we will ensure we have the correct number to call your insurer of we need to evacuate you or provide serious medical attention. We also highly recommend a policy that covers you for curtailment and non-attendance. 


  • Live events decision making:   When we are out on The Reef, in all cases while on the trip, the Event Director’s decision is final. They are at all times acting in the combined interest of the safety of the individual and of the group, as their paramount concern.


Please use the following as a checklist on what you will require for this trip. All documents should be in a waterproof pouch or container.


(at least 6 months remaining and enough pages for all the required stamps - minimum 2).



You should ensure you have purchased a return air ticket.   


See insurance section or event FAQ.   





The dates for the trip are fixed as 13 – 17 August 2023. These are the dates on which our itinerary commences and finishes.

Pick up: Our service will commence with a meeting at Coral Sea Marina at 10:00 on 13th August. We will load your baggage onto our floating HQ and complete your final event registration including kit check.  Please make sure you arrive on time as any delays will impact everyone’s comfort later in the day as our floating HQ has a long, slow journey to make our rendezvous point before nightfall. 

From here, we’ll arrange lunch before making our way to Shute Harbour to collect our kayaks, load them on the transfer vessel and head out on the water, to The Reef!

Drop off: Our end point will be the exact same location as out meeting point, Coral Sea Marina. Easy as that! We aim to be back before 17:00 on Thursday 17th August so we can all check in to our chosen accommodation before regrouping for a relaxing dinner and a few drinks.


Please note: If you are flying in and out of the Whitsundays, the best option is to fly to Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast Airport) and then jump on the Airlie Beach bus service. This stops at the majority of hotels Airlie Beach and takes less than an hour. We do suggest booking in advance so they wait for your flight.


We will carry out an info-packed Q and A style webinar on Thursday 22nd June at 20:00 AEST. This is a great opportunity to ask questions of the event team to aid your preparation. The session will be recorded and those who cannot make it can watch it in their spare time


While The Reef is not as substantial as some of our longer adventures, it still packs a punch. You will be exposed to the North Queensland elements all day and spend some long spells in the seat of a kayak. The best advice we can give you is make sure you’ve spent some several hours in a kayak on open water before getting to Airlie Beach. Nothing will give you a more accurate picture of how your body will react than actually doing it.


You will need to know how to perform a wet exit from a capsized kayak. This is an essential safety skill for all participants, and you will be tested on this before we let you loose on the trip.


We have 10 participants on this trip, a small but perfect number for the adventure. You will be paired up with another participant to share a double sea kayak. Please let us know in advance if you have an adventure buddy on the trip you would like to share a kayak with. We may be able to swap people around over the four days if needed to ensure everyone is getting the most out of their adventure. 


Each day, we will start and finish our trip at our floating HQ. It will then travel in close proximity to use throughout the day with a safety boat on standby if required. We will provide each participant with some daily snacks to keep the energy levels up and have a planned destination for lunch each day.


Each day has been planned out to be a challenge but achievable. We will do all we can to ensure every participant gets the opportunity to complete each day at their own pace. In saying that, as we are a small group it may prove more beneficial, safe and fun to remain as a group for the majority of the longer paddles. This may also be required if the weather/wind is not ideal on any given day. The key thing to remember is, just keep paddling!



13th August  2023


  • Check-in and registration @ Coral Sea Marina

  • Load luggage onto Floating HQ

  • Transport from Airlie Beach to Shute Harbour. Load kayaks and the on to Whitehaven Beach.

  • Safety briefing and kayaking session.    

Accommodation: Floating HQ, Whitehaven Beach


14th August 2023

  • Run Leg – Whitehaven Beach - 7km

  • Kayak Leg – Hill Inlet to Cairn Beach - 15km

Accommodation: Floating HQ

Distance: 22km


15th August 2023


  •  Hike – Cairn Peak - 4km 

  • Kayak – Hook Island - 26km


Accommodation: Floating HQ

Distance: 30km


16th August 2023


  • Kayak - 15km 

Accommodation: Floating HQ

Distance: 15km (approx.)


17th August 2023


  • Kayak - 16km

Accommodation: Own Accommodation, Airlie beach

Distance: 16km 


18th August 2023

  • Breakfast Catch Up  (optional)



Pre-arrival accommodation in Airlie Beach is available to book through the regular hotel booking sites or direct with hotels. A few options currently available are:

  • Reef Gateway Hotel

  • Mantra Club Croc

  • Airlie Beach Hotel

  • Coral Sea Marina Resort

We know everyone is on their own budget, so the above options cover the full price spectrum for Airlie Beach at this time of year. You may also find some options on Air BnB. We do suggest booking something soon as winter is a popular tourist time in Airlie Beach and we do overlap with Airlie Beach Race Week. 



The sleeping arrangements are all onboard our floating HQ Vessel, out on the reef! It’s not your regular setup though, so we hope you enjoy the site of a million stars as you drift off to sleep. You will need a sleeping bag and a pillow.



After trip accommodation in Airlie Beach can be the same as your pre-trip options or feel free to change it up. There is plenty of options again through the standard hotel booking platforms or direct with your hotel of choice. The Coral Sea Marina is our final destination, both to conclude the trip and again for dinner that night, so almost any accommodation around Airlie Beach is within walking distance.



What food and drink is provided: 


Whilst on the itinerary, 3 meals per day will be provided. These will all be made available via our floating HQ. As lunch will literally be a moving target, it is recommended that you bring some of your favourite snacks to ensure you keep your energy levels high on the open waters. Clean drinking water will be provided throughout the itinerary. Any alcohol or additional meals will be at your own expense. 



There will be toilets available on the floating HQ at all times. You however, may not be close to the vessel at all times but will come into contact with it at least once per day while kayaking. The firm advice is always to ensure you are ‘self-contained’ with toilet roll and with anti-bacterial handwash gel. 


There are showers in the Floating HQ at all times.  You should keep to a high level of personal hygiene, washing with water and keeping hands clean at all times. Check wounds, rashes, and blisters regularly for infection.


Our route will trace a line along the entire east coast of the two main Islands forming the Whitsunday Island group. It is a spectacular coastline and well tested by yachts, catamarans, and tourist boats over the years. It can get a little rough in sections if the wind picks up and we have to careful of the tides, but experiencing this coastline from the water is the best option by far. 


As a small group, we will naturally stick together for large chunks of the journey, supporting each other and adding to the experience. During the longer kayak legs we may break up into smaller ‘pods’ of similar speed to ensure everyone can paddle at their own pace and we keep everyone safe. You will however, be required to stay within line of site of our sea kayak guides at all times.    


Your trip leader for the trip is Joel Stephens.  We also have two experienced Sea Guides on the trip, with remote first aid qualifications.



The route is not complicated and if you have a large bit of land on your left, there’s a 99% chance you are going the right way. IN saying that, we will be issuing each double kayak with a Garmin In-Reach GPS tracker with pre-loaded route information. For this trip, this is more a safety device than a navigational aid, but can be used for that if required. 


As a team we will embark on over 60km of sea kayaking across some of the most spectacular scenery you can think of.


Each day will be a challenge and we highly recommend you spend several training sessions of over 4 hours in a kayak.

The conditions will be varied and we won’t have a clear idea of the challenges ahead until we meet up on Sunday in Airlie Beach.

We will be hugging the coast line for the majority of this trip, but conditions can still get tricky, especially on the outer side of the islands where we will spend the first two days.


The kayaks are double sea kayaks, perfect for these waters and made to be stable and smooth. You will be supplied with a PFD and paddle, along with spray skirt. You will need your own dry bag/s for the journey. 


While we will aim to stay as a group for the most part, we will naturally break up slightly on the longer sections (mainly day 2).


Some of this kit is to ensure that if you are unable to continue without our assistance then we can be confident of you having the level of equipment required to keep you as comfortable as possible whilst you wait for that assistance. Some of it is simply to keep you from boiling or freezing on the open seas. It can change rapidly so please so take everything we ask with you. View the full kit list HERE. 

PADDLING KIT                                              



T-shirt (wicking)                                                                       

Long sleeved top/shirt*                                                    

Campsite trousers                                                                 

Campsite t-shirt                                                                      

Rash vest*                                                                                   


Swimming stuff                                                                        

Fleece/warm top                                                                  

Gloves for paddling (Cycling gloves)                           

Sun Hat*(full brim stiff hat is best)                               


Water shoes/trainers                                                          

Walking sandals                                                                       

Rain jacket (can double as spray jacket)                     


PERSONAL KIT                                                

Passport / Photo ID                                                               

Photocopies of passport and all documents                    Wallet                                                                                            

Mobile phone & charger                                                       

Headtorch plus spare batteries                                        


Sun cream                                                                                    

Sunglasses CAT 3                                                                     

Lip salve with SPF                                                                     

Personal first aid kit                                                                 

Personal medication                                                              

Dry bags (Multiple small bags–max 15L)                       


Loo roll in ziplock bag                                                             

Travel towel                                                                                 

Tooth brush                                                                                   

Tooth paste                                                                                    

Wet wipes (packet)                                                                    

Hand sanitiser                                                                               

Nappy bags                                                                                    


CAMPING GEAR                                                

Sleeping bag (2 season)                                                            



RUNNING/HIKING CLOTHING                           

Running shorts                                                                             

Running shirt                                                                                 

Trainers / Hiking Shoes                                                            

Thin jacket                                                                                      

Long pants                                                                                     


Drinking bottle                                                                            

Water carrier                                                                                

Snacks for the duration – 6 days worth
(Nuts/cereal bars/protein bars/sweets)

Thin insulated jacket (synthetic)                                        

Jumper/Hoodie (for nights)                                                  

Electrolytes for water         


TRIP CLOTHING                                                

Travelling outfit                                                                           





Any casual evening clothes                                                  


*SunSmart clothing required as you will have full sun exposure ALL DAY.




Our team is there for you in case you have an incident with which you require assistance. We will have two sea guides with you on the water at all times and the Event Director either close by with our Floating HQ or in the safety support vessel. As this is a low impact and shorter trip, we don’t have a dedicated medical professional travelling with us, however we will have an extensive medical kit to assist with any daily complaints. We encourage you to be proactive with your own health and listen to your body if it is trying to tell you something.   




At this stage we are inviting you to have a medical screening process, which can be completed via the link below. Please complete this as soon as possible – and certainly please, no later than 30th June. If you do have any condition that you feel we should know about, however small you feel it may be, please do share this with our Medics. Experience has shown that early pre-screening can assist both us and you greatly in enabling the care you need pre and during the trip. If you do not share information on conditions which are likely to affect your participation or decide to share them very late in the process, we are all under pressure and we will always reserve the right to cancel your participation if we feel there is a medical issue that may affect yours, or others’ safety. So please, do share anything and everything you feel our team should know about, at the earliest opportunity.


We are very fortunate to have an excellent Medical Director providing oversight, planning and screening on all of our international trips. Rat Race also conforms and has been audited to the rigorous BS8848 standard of expedition management. This means our approach to all things safety and medical is extremely thorough and it is designed throughout with your best interest at heart.


Your medical screening details will be sent direct to our medical team and under medical confidentiality rules, this will only be shared with our medics and no-one else. If they decide this is info that is in the best interests of everyone for us as organisers to be privy to, they will seek and gain your consent before doing so. It is therefore important you complete the link to the medical survey; do not send Rat Race medical information direct. If you have any queries at all on the medical side of things in relation to this event, you can email our Medical Director, Dr Patrick Musto confidentially on and he and his team will assist.


It is imperative that we all keep our health standards at a high level and to be open and honest about possible issues before they become a problem. We will be taking an advanced medical kit with us, including emergency care kit plus various tapes, lotions and other items to assist in possible kayaking-specific injury and preventative care.


Please bring a personal first aid kit as suggested on the kit list as our supply will quickly become exhausted if we all need the same general medicines.  


Our minimum spec for mandatory medical kit (to be carried at all times) is as follows:

·        1 x triangular (or comfortable roller) bandage

·        Gauze or similar absorbent dressing

·        Steri-strips

·        Antiseptic (spray or cream)

·        Assorted plasters

·        Rubber gloves

·        Prescribed medication

·        Zinc oxide tape

·        Compeed – various sizes

·        Lube stick


We have asked that you have in place Travel Insurance cover and specified evacuation cover to last for a minimum period of the event duration from 13th August –17th August 2023. Evacuation and medical expenses cover should total no less than $500 000. Please bring a copy of this cover/ covers (if separate policies) is required. 

We recommend that participants have insurance to cover damage, loss, theft, injury, and non-attendance. Rat Race cannot accept any responsibility for the loss of, theft, or damage to any Participant property or the circumstances of Participant non-attendance. Within the 12-week departure window, we cannot provide any transfers, and, in all cases, we cannot entertain requests for refunds. We respectfully remind all participants that unforeseen circumstances preventing attendance is what travel insurance is designed for and is the reason for this as a strong recommendation on such undertakings.  


The majority of kayaking is done along the coastline of the two main islands, Whitsunday Island and Hook Island. As this is a popular tourist destination, expect to see tourist boats, private catamarans, seaplanes and more as we progress through our own adventure. Many of these will keep further out to sea, so no bother to us.  Please show extra caution however, when kayaking or swimming anywhere near a boat and do not assume they have seen you as you will be sitting low on the water and can be difficult for other vessels to see. This is especially the case when crossing the Hook Passage at the start of the day two.

Our adventure does overlap with Airlie Beach Race Week, six days of offshore yacht racing. You may see some of these racing yachts during our trip but again, they will be out chasing the wind while we’ll be keeping out of it for the best part.  


We want to show that this event has exemplary control of littering. Please help us achieve that. Pack your litter into your pack, pockets or nearby bin bag (trash sack) . No exceptions.  Is a beautiful environment, and our absolute commitment is to keep it that way. 


This is North Queensland and the open ocean so expect to see a wide variety of sea life on our journey. Some will be planned, others not so. Please treat all with respect and let them go about their day in peace. There are sharks, stringers and yes, Irukandji jellyfish. Our local boat guides will provide us with up-to-date accurate information about these litter critters, but it is best to assume they are always there.



Winter in the Whitsundays is normally the best time of year to explore the region. That being said, it is still the Australian coast and the weather is unpredictable. Rains are unlikely but possible. We are expecting south easterly or easterly trade winds for the duration of our trip and have planned the kayaking accordingly. If these winds do not prevail, we may look at an alternative route if it is unsafe to proceed as planned. We’ll always have our floating HQ with us to ensure no matter where we go, we’ll have a bed and a meal at the end of the day.


The event will proceed in many conditions, but if it is deemed unsafe to continue due to weather conditions, the event will be halted at the current location (or nearest safe bay). If required, we will await more favourable conditions to re-commence. This may result in some stages being cut short in order to achieve daily distances within the time available.


In all cases, the decision of the Event team is final in these matters. 

We will monitor weather throughout.


In the event of a true emergency or serious incident protocols will be followed to provide the quickest available evacuation to a healthcare centre. These protocols will be made clear to you upon arrival at a pre-activity briefing by the Trip Leader.




 We have engaged a local photographer/videographer for this trip and look forward to seeing him work his magic, from the waters edge and the air. His aim is to get the best photos and footage possible to share with you and to market this Rat Race event in future years.


Depending on your mobile phone provider, you will have some phone reception across parts of the route. Telstra has the best coverage across regional Australia but for the first 2 days and three nights, we are on the outside of the islands, so reception will be limited. We will have use of a satellite phone that can used for non-emergency comms, subject to availability of credit and battery power, at the rate of $5/ minute.


1.) For ALL pre-event email correspondence prior to departure: 

2.) Emergency correspondence from people who need to get in touch with you (i.e. from those who need to contact you)


IN EMERGENCY ONLY while you are embarked on the event:

The originator should quote ‘Emergency correspondence for (your name)’ in the email title and they must provide a phone number for return comms. This will be patched through to our crew’s mobile phones, (or satellite messaging platform if we are out of reception) from our office and a satellite phone will be made available for you to return the comms to the originator. We would aim to provide a suitable response period of within 24 hrs for this service to the originator. 

Please, please, please do tell your family and supporters NOT to contact us about Tracker related concerns!

3.) For specific arrivals and pre-trip issues to Airlie Beach in the immediate day’s pre-arrival – you can call Joel on 0413 632 147


Submit insurance details and complete online waiver to be submitted by 30th June 2023.  

Medical forms must be filled out by 30th June 2023

20:00 AEST – Thursday 22nd June

That’s it. Pheeeww!   See you in Airlie Beach


Joel Stephens, General Manager
Event Director, The Reef  

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