This world pandemic has definitely put a damper on catching up with friends and family and making any travel plans. In Queensland life had been pretty normal ie. until the Delta variant arrived and borders started to close again in July. Our new batteries from China finally arrived in early August so it was time to go cruising and get away from the dreaded Covid news.
We headed north through the Gold Coast water ways and up to Mooloolaba where we cycled the foreshore enjoying the views and the great weather.
It was onward north up the coast to Double Island Point where we found a beautiful anchorage behind a sand spit. It was a weekend so the locals were driving the beaches in their trucks having fun; fishing and camping. Rainbow Beach definitely was a beautiful spot.
The weather was calm with light winds and less than a 1m swell perfect for passing through the Wide Bay Bar notorious for being dangerous if you don’t plan to cross at the right time. It’s at the bottom of Fraser Island; the longest sand island in the world apparently. We decided to head south once through the bar and go down and visit the humpback dolphins at Tin Can Bay. The community have a QLD govt. program to educate people on these beautiful intelligent creatures. 5 of one pod had come into town to meet a crowd of people who were gathered on the foreshore. For $A10 you can feed them and get up close. They eat 15kg/ day and the program will give them 3kgs so they still need to find their own fish.
It was then on to travel up the West side of Fraser Island to Garrys anchorage for a walk ashore. It was so calm here that we kayaked ashore and walked 10km along a sand trail where we came across our first wild snake; a spotted python, which was a decent size. No dingoes spotted, which apparently frequent the area.
There are a lot of anchorages along the Fraser coastline sheltered from E-SE winds, which we had, including the exclusive Kingfisher Resort. Around the corner from Moon Point are long white sand beaches. Just stunning.
It was on to Bundaberg to catch up with my sister and family, catch up with U.S. sailing friends, visit the famous Bundaberg Rum distillery and The Bundaberg Barrel for a tasting. The fold up bikes definitely came in handy once again to get around.
After a 4am departure to Lady Musgrave Island in the Capricornia Cays on the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef we arrived at low tide to enter the man made pass. We were surprised with the number of boats here; 26.
We enjoyed getting back in the water for some snorkeling inside the lagoon, thru the pass and along the western shelf outside the lagoon spotting lots of turtles and plenty of different healthy coral and fish life. Even watched a group of whales jump and perform outside the lagoon from the boat.
After a week we decided to continue North and found a deserted island within the Capricornia Group. On the way a pod of whales passed by coming up to let us know they were around. Mast Head island had lovely white sand beaches and was perfect for going ashore on the kayaks. The island was bigger than Lady Musgrave’s island and with no one about we enjoyed the 4km walk around the island spotting lots of sting rays, fish life and baby black tip sharks cruising along the shore line.
With an overnight stop at Hummocky Island we then continued on to Great Keppel Island, where Auss friends Jas & Tolly on SV Le Mistral, who we’d first met in the Caribbean, arrived into the anchorage at the same time. With beautiful white sand beaches and plenty of anchorages to choose from it ended up being a fun place to hang out, enjoy some lovely sunsets with great company and get plenty of exercise walking the island.
It was then southward bound and down to The Narrows a protected mangrove lined waterway between Curtis Island and the mainland between the cities of Rockhampton and Gladstone. Half way along the Narrows is a cattle crossing where cattle cross the channel at low tide and sailboats move through the area at high tide. It was very pretty and led us into the industrial city of Gladstone and a great marina in the heart of town where we could eat ashore and reprovision.
After leaving Gladstone we had north winds perfect for going South but after passing Pancake Creek our friends Jas & Tolly called us up and said they were heading to Lady Musgrave Island and we should join them. The turn took us on a beam reach and we had a fast run to Lady Musgrave arriving for afternoon cocktails. We all anchored in the north end of the lagoon which was less crowded. Brett got out spear fishing with Tolly and his brother Jim in the lagoon catching some fish for dinner. 👍 We then spent another week enjoying the waters, hiking around Lady Musgrave and enjoying the sunsets.
When the north winds kicked in again we decided to do an overnighter on the outside of Fraser Island down to Morton Bay. The whales were out performing for us at dusk, which was just amazing to watch. We had a brown booby join us for our sail overnight, staying to the early hours of the morning in the same place; he had good balance!
It was then on to Scarborough to catch up with a Canadian sailor, Captain Dan from SV Vagabond, who we originally met in Vanuatu in 2019. He hadn’t been sailing for a year and a half due to boat projects so decided to join us for a trip up the Brisbane River to see the sights.
Brett’s cousin, Kyle and Laura live in Brisbane so we enjoyed some time ashore with them catching up. There was plenty of action ashore and good walking and cycling paths from New Farm where we anchored to meet them.
The Sunsuper Riverfire was on in Brisbane for the weekend so we ended up catching up with my NZ friend Cameron and his wife Katy along with their South African friends at Kangaroo Point. It was a spectacular fireworks display with the army aviation team demonstrating their maneuvers in helicopters and a flyover by a Boeing C17 military transport aircraft before the fireworks. We chose the right weekend to be in Brisbane.
It was then onto St Helena Island within Moreton Bay, which in the early 19th century was a high security prison housing 350 prisoners at its peak and is now a National Park. It was intended that the prison should be virtually self sufficient so tradesmen were employed as prison warders to ensure a high standard of workmanship and productivity. Prisoners carried out their sentence working on construction of buildings and roads on the island to growing & processing foods. Workshops for various trades like sail making, boot making, saddles, candle making, carpentry were the main source of work.
Now we are back on the Gold Coast for cyclone season where we’ve been catching up with family and friends and hoping life gets back to normal soon.
Here’s hoping 2022 sees borders open and normality returning….