A brief update from Gucci after last departure from Brisbane.
After 3120 miles cruising the East Coast of Australia: Brisbane – Sydney, Sydney – Brisbane, Brisbane – Cairns, Cairns – Darwin.
Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand (vegetated) island was a pleasant stop for a few days – dingo walking the beach, and other interesting objects such as the one below.
No stop in Bundaberg would be complete without visiting the famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery, even if it’s not your first choice of rum. It was interesting to see the flood levels from both the 2010 and 2013 floods.
Nicci joined us from McKay to Townsville, exploring the Whitsunday Islands in between. Whitehaven beach is the pick of the bunch, with spectacular white sand, turtles in abundance swimming nearby on a daily basis, and we also saw good sized goannas in the bush nearby.
Leaving Townsville, which boasts some lovely old colonial buildings, we headed for Magnetic Island. We based ourselves in Horseshoe Bay, visited various pretty bays on the Island, and enjoyed yet another bonfire on the beach with more cruisers.
Next we ventured down the Hinchinbrook Channel with its magnificent peaks, valleys and countless navigable creeks and channels winding through vast mangroves forests. Now in serious croc country, despite the intense humidity, we did NOT risk swimming.
Not far from the Northern end of the Hinchinbrook Channel is Dunk Island, a lovely island with clear water where you can swim safely, without fear of crocs or sharks, and where you can still see the remains of the resort which was totally ravaged by cyclone Yasi in 2011 – five years on, insurance disputes halt any progress towards re-opening any time soon.
A few stops later and 6 miles out of Cairns, we blew out the main while gybing. This was our first sail damage since leaving in April 2015.
Luckily we fixed that within a couple of days, in time to take Elizabeth and Peter (Smooth and Sneaky) to Michaelmas Cay, a picturesque sand cay teeming with marine life and a protected sanctuary for migratory seabirds.
The next day, Elizabeth and Peter treated us to the Skyrail Rainforest Cable Car, Kuranda Scenic rail trip – a 7.5km journey over and through World Heritage protected rainforest on the Skysail, showcasing ancient rainforest and spectacular views. Lunch, shopping at Kuranda, and a scenic train ride back to Cairns on a 125-year-old handcrafted Victorian inspired train – it was an awesome experience and a ‘must do’ if you are ever in Cairns.
Also worth a look in and around Cairns are the night markets, open every night to 11.30pm, the lagoon nearby, and the walk to the markets via the lagoon with colourfully-lit trees, all within five to ten minutes of each other (and the marina) makes Cairns a very easy and nice place to be.
We made an overnight stop at Low Isles. This delightful Island has a working lighthouse – built in 1878 and the bay includes good snorkelling, and a resident 4-metre lemon shark to swim and play tag with, should you so desire.
Twenty miles short of Cooktown is Hope Island, a charming white sand island, which we had to ourselves for three days.
On the third morning, Brent announced the Interislander was going past, (we are 20 miles from Cooktown – the last civilised town on the East coast of Australia, the response was something like “Yeah right”. Binoculars soon appeared, AIS promptly turned on, sure enough it really was one of the Interisland fleet passing through the nearby shipping lane.
In Cooktown, Rob joined us for the passage to Darwin. The small historic coastal town of Cooktown is interesting – famous for its history and Aboriginal culture. European history started here when the Endeavour was beached for repair in 1770. The rich goldfields of the Palmer River were discovered in 1873, the population climbing overnight from virtually nothing to a population of 30 thousand, half of who were Chinese, in a tent-city 3km long. Evidently there were 62 licenced publicans in Cooktown and another 79 on the Palmer fields!
The most northern island Queensland resort is at Lizard Island. Clear pristine water, white sand, and our last chance for a meal out on the East Coast of Australia.
Day sailing on the way from Cooktown to Cape York, beautiful conditions, sunny days, with ideal sailing winds averaging 7 – 9 knots most days. It took a few days before we caught a good feed, but when we did, we had enough fish to last us to Darwin. A couple of tuna caught while crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria were released on capture.
150 miles out of Darwin we blew the main out yet again, just slightly below the last rip. Thankfully it did not make a difference time wise, as 20 miles later the wind died and we motored the rest of the way to Darwin, negotiating tidal currents on the way.
We leave for Indonesia on the 23rd July with the Indonesian rally, a fleet of 43 boats. Most boats are between 42 and 46 feet. The smallest is Gucci at 35 feet, the largest is a 65 footer from the Marshall Islands. Most are Australian, but there are also: one Belgian, 2 French, 4 USA, 3 UK, 1 German, 1 Swiss, and 1 from NZ, i.e. Gucci…the race is on!
Cheers Deb, Brent