Posted by yachtcamomile
We are enjoying life in Australia and I haven’t had a chance to post any blogs for ages so this is an update of what we did in November.
We enjoyed our time in Bundaberg but we were anxious to start our cruising in Australia. On the 1st November we sailed back down the river and across Hervey bay to enter the Great Sandy Straight in the lee of Fraser island. Created over hundreds of thousands of years from sand drifting off the east coast of mainland Australia, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It’s over 60 miles long and the only place where rainforest grows on sand. We anchored off the Kingfisher resort hotel, a very yachtie friendly place.
With the main part of the resort set further up the hillside, down by the waters edge there were showers, a restaurant and even a pool we could use. We went on some nice walks around the surrounding area through the rainforest returning along the beach.
These tree roots had washed up on the beach.
On the 5th we motor sailed further down through the Sandy straights carrying the flood tide to Turkey island where at high tide the water flow changes direction. We continued on the ebb to Tin can bay where we spent a few days in Pelican bay. While there we were visited by some dolphins and saw lots of bird life. On the 7th we went to bed surrounded by 8 boats. We were all waiting for the 2pm tide the next day to cross the wide bar bay, a notorious spot in these parts for high waves and confused sea. We woke to find everyone had gone they had obvious decided to cross at 2am even through the locals advised against it. It must have been something we said!!
We left at 2pm as planned and, after uneventfully crossing the bar, sailed overnight to Brisbane. We entered the river just after 8am and sailed all the way to the city centre on the genny. It was a good way to enter the city and London could learn a thing or two from Brisbane. We passed lots of commercial wharfs with big container ships berthed alongside but they looked very clean and tidy, no graffiti or piles of rubbish lying around.
The same for the power stations and other factories set along the waterside. They were surrounded by nice gardens and walkways and the gaps kept giving us tantalising glimpses of the CBD area as we got closer.
It all made the journey up the river very pleasant.
We finally rolled away the sail as we approached the Story bridge, which is their main bridge where it’s possible to climb over the top – no I won’t be doing that! We tied fore and aft to pile mooring next to the Botanical gardens right in the heart of the city. There are showers, a launderette, dinghy pontoon and free water all for A$70 (£46) a week, a bargain for Australia I can assure you.
The weekend of 10th November was spent exploring the city. We were really impressed with Brisbane, again no graffiti anywhere, lots of brightly lit shops (lots and lots of shops, yes!), nice wide pathways, and a good sprinkling of cafes to keep me supplied with cappuccinos.
This shopping mall is called the Wintergardens and the outside is covered with this beautiful perforated metal facia with large butterflies attached to it. It looked delightful but it’s very difficult to pick it out in these photos.
Monday 12th was an exciting day because we had arranged to meet Bill’s long lost relative. Bill’s Grandmother’s brother emigrated as a young man and John is his son so he’s Bill 1st cousin once removed. We met him and his wife Helen for coffee. We had a lovely time talking about families before they came back to have a look at Camomile. We’ll catch up again in March when Kate and family come across from NZ for a holiday in the Brisbane area.
On the 15th we did the tourist route. Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland and has it’s own state parliament. (The federal parliament is in Canberra) The parliament building is open to the public and offers a free-guided tour. As free is a magical word to cruisers we went along to have a look. We were shown around by a very interesting man who told us all about their parliamentary system. The building dates from 1868 which is old for Oz and looked very attractive. Just around the corner was the Italian Renaissance-style treasury building with it’s lavish façade which is now a 24-hour casino.
Moving onto King George’s square we came across Brisbane’s city hall that was getting a huge makeover and sadly was closed but looked as though it would definitely been worth a look.
Opposite the other side of the square was this quaint little church which was dwarfed by the surrounding buildings. The Aussies like to keep their heritage buildings and just build their skyscrapers around them. Strangely they seem to compliment each other.
I had been complaining that I still hadn’t seen a kangaroo since we’d arrived in Australia when we came across these very cleverly built sculptures made from engine parts sitting around on the pavement.
While in Brisbane we caught up with some Aussie cruisers that we had met in the south Pacific. We met Chris and Cate with their lovely girls Grace and Sarah from Equinox on the ICA rally last year and it was great to catch up again . Cate very kindly took me shopping in the car and, more importantly, offered me the use of her washing machine, a wonderful offer to a fellow cruiser. We joined them for a proper Aussie Barbie while my sheets and curtains churned around in her washing machine. They live in a pretty Queenslander house with the main rooms on the upper floor overlooking a huge balcony and the garage and lesser rooms downstairs. This is Chris cooking snags (sausages) on the Barbie, delicious they were too.
The next day we had the mother of all thunder storms. Bill and I had been out for a walk in the morning the other side of the river when the heavens opened. By the time we caught the ferry back across the river we were soaked to the skin. Later the lightening became really violent, crashing over our heads every few minutes. This photo was on the front page of the newspaper the next day and shows how ferocious the lightening became. As seems to be normal these days the weather forecasters didn’t predict it.
The 20th saw some waifs and strays otherwise known as cruisers head out of the city for the day. Gary and Jackie from the Canadian boat Inspiration Lady (which took Gary 23 years to build from scratch!) and Kennedy an American single hander on a boat called Far Star joined us on the bus to Mt Coot-tha. This was a ‘pink’ trip to make up for the ‘blue’ trip of the day before which saw us touring the hardware stores of an out of town retail park. First stop was the botanical gardens where we were shown around by a very nice lady who told us all about the plants of the region and the history of the gardens. After a nice lunch in the café we headed further up the hill to the look out. With a perfect blue-sky day we had a fantastic view over the city and the surrounding suburbs.
On the 21st we were back on the train for a trip north to Shorncliffe to meet some more cruisers from the town of Redcliffe. We had teamed up with Lloyd and Lynelle of Chappie in French Polynesia when we fell behind on the Blue Water rally in 2010. We’d said goodbye in Fiji but had always promised we would look them up when we made it to Oz and it was wonderful to meet up with them again.
They drove us around the area and took us out for a lovely lunch before going back to see their lovely Aussie home. Thanks Guys it was great to see you again.
Having spent over 2 weeks in Brisbane we felt we ought to get moving before we took root in Brisbane, something that would have been very easy to do. Bill had been keeping a regular eye on the weather, watching for a northerly to head our way. It arrived on the 23rd so we dropped our mooring lines and headed back down the river with the ebb tide. We spent the day sailing across Morton bay and down through the Broadwater. We anchored overnight by the Gold coast seaway and joined a group of yachts at 5am the next morning for the trip south. There were Jackie and Jake on the American boat Hokele’a and Mike and Liz on the British boat Aurora B who we kept in touch with by VHF on the trip. We had met both boats before in the South Pacific; the cruising network is very small. It was a fast passage with 2 or 3kts of current with us all the way down. Originally we had planned on 3 days and nights but we arrived in Pittwater at lunchtime on the third day having travelled at an average of 7.6kts all the way, probably one of the fastest passages on our travels so far. Mike on Aurora B had arranged for the 3 boats to pick up buoys at Church Point in Pittwater harbour. That evening we watched another one of Australia’s thunderstorms.
The 28th was Liz on Aurora B’s birthday so I made her a cake and Jackie found some balloons. The 6 of us enjoyed a lovely afternoon celebrating on Aurora B. So that was November.