Construction noise in Airlie Beach was unbearable in 2008. Noise levels from the Port of Airlie Marina construction have exceeded 90 decibels, with sound levels measured from the balconies of Whitsunday resorts overlooking the Airlie Beach construction site. These resorts are hundreds of metres away from the noisy sheet pile driving. Noise levels in Coconut Grove, adjacent to the site, are higher.
Airlie Beach tourists have cancelled their visits due to construction noise. The entire eastern end of Airlie Beach is a no-stay zone for tourists. Tourists booked into Whitsunday resorts in Hermitage Drive and Golden Orchid Drive, Airlie Beach have cancelled their visit to the Whitsunday area due to construction noise. Tourists have also left because their ocean view is a construction site.
Pile driving noise can be heard as far away as MacDonalds, in the main street of Airlie Beach. It can be heard at the Airlie Beach lagoon. The noise of pile driving has been front page news in local newspapers since the start of July 2008. As I write this, around 200 metres out of 500 metres of sheet pile driving have been done.
Pile driving at the Port of Airlie Marina officially ended Friday 12 September 2008. Now the site is just producing normal construction noises, rocks dumping from trucks, diggers and bulldozers, and that sort of stuff. The construction site is still noisy enough that I can't hear the 5 p.m. news at the volume I usually use, according to a note I took on 23 September 2008. Construction is expected to take 4 years. But we will have left the area by 2009.
Portside Resort manager Colleen Dodds is reported to have said in early July guests booked in for up to two weeks had left after one day. They had lost 20% of their business, after guests were checked in. Pile driving noise was heard even at Coral Sea Resort at the far western end of Airlie Beach. Manager Jeff Aquilina said guests had even booked out of Coral Sea Resort, well distant from the Port of Airlie Marina construction site.
It could be worse. The Port of Airlie Marina construction site is so large that almost all their actual truck and crane movements (except rock and sand) are along their own internal work roads, not along Whitsunday Shire roads. Even so, throughout June and July 2008, there were two safety jacketed flagmen stopping tourist traffic in the middle of Airlie Beach to let large rock and sand delivery trucks drive safely through the intersection in the middle of Airlie Beach. These flagmen were in position before the 7 a.m. construction start.
Noise problems and low tourist bookings seem to me to be prompting attempted Airlie Beach resort apartment sales. More resort apartments for sale than I ever recall at the construction noise exposed eastern end of Airlie Beach. I am expecting price drops, as tourists refuse to visit Airlie Beach and resort bookings drop.
Construction noise is particularly noticeable for Airlie Beach resorts on Shute Harbour Road, directly opposite the Port of Airlie Marina construction site. I can not imagine how Portside, on the main street of Airlie Beach, to take only one example, is managing.
Hermitage Drive, with resorts between Hermitage Drive and Shute Harbour Road even more exposed than those on the high side of Hermitage Drive. Not only are they right next to noise exposure from the Port of Airlie Marina construction site, but they may also find their present sea views reduced when the marina apartment blocks are actually built over the next few years. Plus directly behind them, further up the hill, is the construction zone that is Mount Whitsunday. These Hermitage Drive resorts have already been exposed to floods from construction behind them during the rainy season.
Golden Orchid Drive, in the heart of Airlie Beach, is also highly exposed to construction noise. From my apartment, I can see six construction cranes in Airlie Beach. From the bottom of Golden Orchid Drive, I can see several more cranes at construction sites. Port of Airlie Marina construction noise levels on my balcony in June 2008 ranged from 87 to 91 decibel, according to two different sound pressure level meters I used. The construction noise got so bad that we left Airlie Beach for a week in late June to escape the construction noise. We left Airlie Beach at least four times during the year to escape the noise. The night shift taxi driver next door also left his apartment and slept elsewhere during the day.
The short answer is tourists stay away from Airlie Beach. However Airlie Beach is still a decent base for tourists visiting the Great Barrier Reef. If you will be out diving or snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef by day, you will miss the Airlie Beach construction noise. It starts after you depart on boat cruises, and ends not long after you return. Construction does not take place after 6 p.m. Sunday is free of construction noise. You could also try the western end of Airlie Beach, which is not nearly as close to the noise. Check again about the construction noise levels in Airlie Beach during 2009.
Where the Rainforest meets the Sea, until the developers arrived, and the golden sand comes in dump trucks.