Sailing the South Pacific and Australia

S 21° 08' E 149° 12'

Mackay to Whitsunday Islands

June 05, 2011

Some of the highlights along the way included Brampton Island. As are most of the islands up here, this island was a national park and had lovely walking tracks. We walked around the island one day and did the walk to the top of the hill the next day. The view was spectacular and along the track we saw large lizards, much bigger than geckos, and a bush turkey. Some people on another boat, told us there were kangaroos on the island, but we didn’t see one.  There was a large jetty in the bay which Steve found useful for doing his yoga. A bit more room to stretch out.   Steve also found it a good place to try and catch fish, though he had no luck.

From there we sailed to Goldsmith Island and spent several days waiting for high winds to abate. Although a nice spot, we were happy when we were able to sail on to Thomas Island. The weather was still only average so after a couple of days we sailed to Shaw Island where we had some nice walks along the beach.

Steve swam back to the boat one day even though we had watched a small shark cruising along, not far out from the beach. I rowed alongside him in case he had to get out of the water in a hurry. We had a couple of big fish swimming around the boat. They looked like angel fish though bigger. Steve wanted to eat them but I wouldnbeautiful fish. He got in the dinghy and dangled his fingers in the water and one of them came right up to him, so he stroked it on the back. From our anchorage we could look across the sound to the Club Med resort on Lindeman Island. We were really in the Whitsundays. 

Our next port of call was a bay on the north of Lindeman Island, well sheltered from all southerly winds. Here we found lovely walks, one to the top of the hill which gave us amazing views in all directions. As it was a lovely sunny day, the sea showed up as a brilliant blue with all the islands dotted around. The following day we walked over to a bay on the western side of the island and then to the Club Med resort. This was spread out over a huge area with a runway on one side and a golf course on the other. It was like a little town. We had a wander around then walked back to our bay which we had all to ourselves.

As I had been reading about Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, we made that our next stop. This 6k stretch of the finest white silica sand looked just as good as the photos I had seen. We spent a few days here, along with heaps of tourists coming and going on ferries, charter boats etc. One day we walked the length of the beach, passing 3 helicopters and 2 sea planes along the way. Some people hire helicopters to fly them to a private spot on the beach as most of the tourists go to the southern end of the beach. So we just walked on by and gave them a wave.

It was fascinating to watch a tourist ferry come in. People would pile off and in a short space of time there would be little sun tents dotting the beach, people swimming or sunbathing. Groups of young people from charter yachts or other boats would set up games of beach volleyball or water games. They would stay for a few hours then all disappear leaving the place to us and the few boats that were staying overnight.

As with the other islands there were a couple of bush walks. The tracks here, we have found to be very impressive, designed for people of all fitness level, well formed and well maintained. The walks are usually short, between 2 and 10 kilometres. 

After a few days we moved a little further north, just to the next bay actually, Tongue Bay. This delightful bay was also popular with the tourists because there is a walk over to Hill Inlet and the end of Whitehaven Beach ends. The inlet is too shallow for boats like ours, but small boats can get in. There is a lookout which offers a great view of the inlet. When the tide is out it is a glorious pattern of white, white sand and water in various shades of blue. I will put a photo of this on here for you though it doesnt really do it justice.

While in Tongue Bay, Steve managed to catch a couple of mud crabs and finally caught some fish. This was cause for celebration, as we have been suffering from fish withdrawal syndrome since we arrived in Australia. We were beginning to think that only Aussies could catch Aussie fish. The bay has a large population of sea turtles and some dugongs. It is wonderful watching the turtles swimming around, popping their heads up and moving incredibly fast if you get too close. Unfortunately, we didnt get so close to the dugongs (also called sea cows), and had to watch from a distance when they came up for air.

Our anchor winch is now not working. It needs a new part which we hope to get at Airlie Beach in a few days.  In the meantime Steve has to pull the anchor up by hand.  Needless to say we are choosing shallow anchorages or ones with mooring buoys.  There are a few places with public buoys which is handy. 

As I write this we are at Border Island on a buoy. The diving here is supposed to be spectacular but Steve went for a dive when we arrived and was a bit disappointed, saying that a lot of the coral has died, probably the result of the cyclone. There was some nice soft coral however and we have a lot more diving spots to see yet.

We are finding these islands delightful, very close together, so only a short sail from one anchorage to the next. The weather seems to have settled and the last couple of weeks have been lovely. Nice light breezes so our sailing is very leisurely on flat water. Sorry Dan, I know you prefer gales and big waves.

Since we have been in Australia I have been fascinated with the sea eagles, brahminy kites and the ospreys. All these large birds of prey have taken up a lot of my time, as I try to get good photos of them. They are so graceful in the air, gliding on the air currents and they can move extremely fast if they see a fish or some other food source. They swoop down and scoop them up with their talons. Swoop and scoopJ .

Looking forward to hearing news from home

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