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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Australia: Fraser Island - More Photos of this Unesco World Heritage site

Kingfisher Bay at dusk.  Fraser Island, Unesco World Heritage site.  Biggest sand island in the world.  Queensland, Australia.
Australia's Fraser Island, Unesco World Heritage site (my 31st visited -- Wayne's got me beat by one), and the world's largest sand island...  Here's a few final images*

Mineral-rich water trickling to the beach.  Fraser Island, 75-mile beach, Queensland, Australia.
*Previous GWT Fraser Island posts, loaded with photos:
Fraser Island Tour and
Fraser Island Mangrove Misadventures

Tuna jumping, part of a huge school of them in Kingfisher Bay, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia.  There were also tons of turtles surfacing around our boat.  They sounded like long-time chain smokers breathing when they came up for air -- quite loud!  
Your turn.... This is fun!

  • How many Unesco World Heritage sites have you visited?  (note:  some are tricky - for example - New Caledonia's sites are listed under "France" and Puerto Rico's under the US)
  • Which are your favorites?  
  • Which are the top ones on your "bucket list"?  
  • What do you believe should be on the list, and is not (note:  here are some suggestions on the World Heritage website)?  
  • Which seem ridiculous?  I would vote to take Panama's Portobello off the list.  Yes, there's a fort there, but it's pretty unimpressive as far as forts go.

Let me know! 

Cicada "moulting" found on our Fraser Island night tour.
We heard the cicadas odd serenade every night at dusk
on Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia.  Will eventually post
an audio of their song.  Meanwhile, here a similar-sounding
cicada song for you to listen to from Wikipedia.
Note:  Google account required for replies in comment section (scroll to the bottom of blog post for comments section) - my apologies - the downside to using Blogger for my host. Google accounts are free.  If you don't have one, they're worthwhile.  Or, if you do and lost your password, Google's password recovery/reset is pretty easy to use.











Fraser Island soldier crab digging in to hide.  Watch for upcoming videos of this
and hundreds of soldier crabs trooping across the beach.  Queensland, Australia.
Location Location
We visited Fraser Island (S25.22.852 E153.01820, near Kingfisher Lodge) recently, November 19-24, 2016.  We are currently in Australia's Gold Coast, near Steiglitz (S27.145.299 E153.21.258) portion of Queensland.  










For scale - a soldier crab is below of Eve of Auntie's foot.

Cruising By the Numbers
  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia was 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu was 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji was 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.
Dawn, Fraser Island, Queensland Australia.
Up Next
After Gold Coast, we’ll mosey on down to off to Pittwater, near Sydney  for boat work, ~400 miles. Weather may force us to stop along the way. 
Sunset, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Australia: Mangrove Misadventures, Fraser Island

Wayne and Eve mull our trail options at Fraser Island's mangrove edge.  The largest sand island in the world, Fraser's
a Unesco World Heritage site.  Queensland Australia.  
We’d heard Kingfisher Lodge offered the most to do of all the anchorages on Fraser Island.  The day before, I blitzed Fraser Island on a guided tour, while my better half, Wayne, and our solo-sailor friend Eve of Auntie had yet to set foot on Fraser.  We headed toward shore on our dinghy to check it out.

Fine looking goanna seen on our hike at
Kingfisher Lodge, Fraser Island.
The previous day, Chris and Chris of Scintilla and I found ourselves first dragging their dinghy for quite a ways up to get past the high tide line before heading out for the full-day Fraser island tour.  When we returned. the low tide required dragging their dinghy an even longer ways back, plus a long wade and rowing a bit before the water was deep enough to drop the outboard motor to propel us back to our boats. 

That prompted Wayne to try a different strategy for to deal with the big tidal swings and Fraser’s exceedingly shallow shelf to shore and securing our dinghy while we explored ashore.  Wayne tied our dinghy to a post on Kingfisher Lodge’s long pier near the waterline.  The theory was we wouldn’t find ourselves having to make a long drag back to the water when we returned.

Overlooking the anchorage area and beyond from a viewpoint off a Kingfisher Lodge trail, Fraser Island, Queensland Australia.
We wandered into the elegant Kingfisher Lodge reception area, its open high ceiling architecture reminiscent of a train station or airport terminal entry. A free ranger-led bush tucker tour that Wayne and Eve were going to check out met there. (I was busy with another commitment.)

 Turns out the tucker tour was more of a lecture, and never went past the Lodge parking lot.  There was a $20 tucker tasting that Eve and Wayne figured would be more worthwhile – for me, as I didn’t shy away from taking a bite of a Bardi grub.  Eve and Wayne were less adventurous eaters.

After the bush tucker tour, we decided to check out the nearby trails.  We weren’t up for tackling the 11 km trail – each way -- to Lake McKenzie.  It was already mid-afternoon and the trails were loose sand and I wasn’t sure if they overlapped with the tour busses and definitely didn’t want to compete for space or get dusted by them. 
Between the gum trees (eucalypts), shrubs and mangroves formed an intricate and dense tapestry of greens.  Hiking ,Fraser Island.
Instead, we took a loop trail that led to an overlook, then down past the mangroves and back along the shoreline.  The clear afternoon made for not only a nice view of our anchorage, but also of the islands we passed on our way in to Fraser. 

Once we got down to the mangroves at the water’s edge, there clear trail gave way to a narrow sandy bit, with a cliff on one side, and the water on the other.  Our choices were to


  1. hug the shoreline, wading when needed, until we found our way back to the beach, failing that to
  2. scale the cliff until we could either drop back down to the beach or reconnect with the trail we took down to the mangroves, or
  3. retrace our steps, back up the hill and to Kingfisher Lodge and back to the beach



Naturally sculpted driftwood on Fraser Island's shoreline, between the mangroves and Kingfisher Lodge pier.
We opted for #1, to try the path forward, hugging the shoreline.

Eventually, we made it.  

If you visit Fraser and decide to hike the same trail we did, consider the shoreline portion as a LOW TIDE OPTION ONLY!  We puzzled over why the trail wasn’t labeled as such on Kingfisher’s info.

Then, to our dismay, the pier the dinghy was tied to was now in at least waist deep water.

We again considered our options….  We could
  1. Wait until the tide dropped
  2. One of us could swim out to the dinghy and bring it back to a wade-able point for the other two
  3. Find someone to give us a ride out to the dinghy 

Then Eve offered up a fourth option, to scale down the pole our dinghy was tied to from the pier above it.  We decided if she was game, we’d take her up on it.  It wasn’t easy, but she pulled it off!

Eve, beginning her decent to our dinghy, tied off a ways down, below Kingfisher Lodge's pier.  Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia.
Still a way more to forEve to rappel down.... Wayne offers encouragement.
Eve makes it!  



  































Given how high the tide was, the timing was perfect for a dinghy ride up the inlet into the mangrove.  We trailed a ranger-led group kayakers headed into the mangroves before us.  We knew we wouldn’t run aground before the kayakers reversed course. The waters weren’t as clear as other mangroves I’ve explored by kayak, but we were all still enthralled by its mysterious beauty.

Eve ducking as we wove our way through Fraser Island's mangroves at high tide, near Kingfisher Lodge.
We ducked and twisted our way upstream, eventually hanging a u-turn as the kayakers began their trek back.  Near the exit, a hop—hop-hop ZING bee-lined the waters right in front of us, startling us into momentary silence.“That’s classic predator and prey in action,” Wayne laconically observed.


Wayne, laughing as he holds onto the mangrove branches we're trying to avoid getting thwacked by in our dinghy tour.
Feeling satisfied we’d had a full Fraser Island afternoon, we returned to our respective boats, to rest up for whatever the next day had to offer.

PS Afterward, we spotted a lower dock at the end Kingfisher's pier with an area that looked like it wouldn't be in the way of the ferry that brings visitors to Fraser from the mainland.  After dodging several fishing lines, we tied off there.  Our dinghy was moved but safely re-tied while we were ashore; we're guessing it got in the way of a catch.  Still beat rappelling, or swimming to the dinghy, or dragging it a half-mile to get to outboard-able waters.

Location Location
We toured Fraser Island (S25.22.852 E153.01820, near Kingfisher Lodge), November 19-24, 2016.  We are currently anchored off Brisbane's area's Peel Island, Horseshoe anchorage (S27.30.265 E153.21.640).  There is still one more post from Fraser Island coming (and eventually a short video clip) as well as a few final catch-up posts from New Caledonia.

Cruising By the Numbers
  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia was 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu was 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji was 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas. and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.

Up Next
Our next stop is Gold Coast, Southern Queensland. From there it's about a 350 mile, multi-day passage to Pittwater, near Sydney.  Our goal is to be aboard our boat in Sydney Harbor, taking in the New Year's Eve festivities.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Australia: 9-Toed Tour of Fraser Island (Unesco World Heritage Site)

Lake McKenzie, a popular fresh water swimming hole stop on the Unesco Heritage site Fraser Island tour.  Queensland, Australia.
Even if it did hit several of  Unesco Word Site Fraser Island's* top spots and included lunch,  we chafed at popping $185 AUS (about $131 USD) / person for a 7:50 am - 4:40 pm guided tour.  


Purportedly -- if we could get it --  it would cost more to rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle by the time all the fees were paid than to take the Fraser Island guided tour.  Somewhat reluctantly, we made the required night-before reservations via credit card for the Fraser Island Discover Beautiful Places tour.  Seeing Fraser Island was one of the reasons we chose to check into Australia via Bundaberg, rather than entering further South and checking in at Brisbane instead.


We saw lots of signs about the dingos, met others who saw
the dingos.  Alas, we did not see any on Fraser Island.
*Fraser is the largest sand island in the world.  Part of what makes it unique is the coating around its sand granules provided viable building blocks for life, leading to verdant forests and a whole host of other happy flora and prolific fauna.  Wild dingos are Fraser's big draw.  Australia's earliest human settlers brought them along for food.

All paid up and ready to roll early, we checked our watches and wondered why our “7:50 am sharp!” tour bus had yet to arrive by 8:20.  Little did we know that delay meant we were in for a lucky break!

Turns out our scheduled guide didn’t know he was scheduled and went incommunicado. Instead, Peter, the guide we got, was still waking up from his breakfast when he showed up as our stand-in.  Granted, we have no ability to compare Peter to our originally intended guide, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else funnier and more knowledgeable than the famed Australian wildlife photographer Peter Meyer and Fraser local for 20 years.  

Peter's stories kept us in stitches, and his running commentary added a just the right level of context to better appreciate and understand what makes Fraser unique.  At the same time, you're never quite sure when Peter's telling a yarn or the truth.

Looking up at the rainforest canopy, Central Station, Fraser Island, Queensland Australia.
For example, Peter told us "There are no koalas on on Fraser Island.  So I picked up a toy koala and put it up in a tree, waiting until someone on my tour 'discovered' it.  I'd stop, and out would come the cameras, clicking away.  Eventually they'd notice the koala had a backpack on....  The ranger made me take the koala down."
Sand "roads" of Fraser Island, Queensland Australia.  Photo courtesy of Chris of s/v Scintilla, taken from "our" bus front seat.


Fraser is criss-crossed with deep sand roads, theoretically 2-way, but one car width wide - not sure if our GPS would apply there!  When two vehicles meet, one -- generally the rental -- has to back into a pullout for  the other vehicle to pass.  As we lurched, bumped and rolled down the roads, I found myself voluntarily and without prompting, strapping myself in with the seatbelt.  Peter had a variety of colorful names for various places travelers regularly got stuck along the road, pointing them out as we passed them. 
75 Mile Beach, East Coast, Fraser Island, Queensland Australia.  The beach is drivable - in theory!
The day of our tour, Peter was narrowly spared from saving another tour bus that "got bogged" (mired) in the sand on 75-mile beach.  Another guide was able to help the stuck bus driver out before we did.  According to Peter, busses have gotten stuck long enough that tides flooded their interior.

These Fraser Island seeds release only when there is a fire.  Queensland Australia.
Our first stop was at Lake McKenzie, a fresh water lake of turquoise shallows bordered on one side by a beautiful white sand beach and the other side by deeper, royal blue waters.   Sparse sculptural lakeside trees enhanced the surreal landscape effect.  Lake McKenzie made an inviting swimming hole, though for those of us changing into and out of swimsuits and also partaking in the tea and cookies, there wasn't much time for swimming.



Carpet python, Fraser Island, Australia.  Harmless.

After Lake McKenzie we stopped off at Central Station, the island's tropical rain forest, where we got a chance to stretch our legs and learn more about the remaining trees, as the area was once heavily logged.  Eco-tourism's replaced timber as Fraser Island's economic lifeblood, driving the protection of the areas natural resources.  "the Greenies in the 70s got it started," Peter explained.  Central Station used to be a train stop, to transport felled timber for export.

Native dawn ferns, casting their lofty umbrellas over Central Station's stream were stunning, as was the whole forest canopy.  Ironically, there were even imported and now mature California sequoias - which made me feel at home in an odd sort of way.  Tall, wide satanay pines were the native grand-daddies of the forest.  We also saw more kauris than in New Zealand.  

What really made the Central Station stop and our whole tour was when Chris of s/v Scintilla spotted a handsome carpet python.  It was close enough we could see the python's blue tongue flicking, as it leisurely made its way from one side of the trail boardwalk, underneath us to the other.  Unlike many Australian plants and animals, carpet pythons are not poisonous and do not attack humans.


Chris of s/v Scintilla, pointing to a tree hollow
where we found a skink.  Fraser Island, Australia.
From Central Station we stopped off for a generous though not particularly memorable buffet lunch at Eurong.  Eurong is now owned by the same folks as the far more glam Kingfisher Lodge, which is where we anchored near and began the tour.  

Peter rounded up his ducklings just as we were finishing lunch, and our next stop was for those folks interested in taking a 15-minute Cessna flight over the island for $80 AUD.  "One of the few places in the world where you can take off and land on a beach," we were told.  Tempting, and not too outrageously priced, but my tight purse strings won out over my curiosity.  The folks who took the tour seemed satisfied with it.

The much-photographed wreck of the SS Maheno was our next stop.  Once a luxury liner, built in 1905, the Maheno wrecked and eventually washed ashore Fraser Island in 1935.  Time and tides have not been kind, though after 81 years it's amazing anything is left.  The beach surrounding the wreck is quite stunning, which caught my interest more the wreck, thronged with tourists.  


SS Maheno in its heyday.  Image pilfered from Wikipedia.
SS Maheno today, what's left, wrecked on the shores of Fraser Island's 75-Mile Beach since 1935.  Queensland, Australia.
Still, eagle-eyed Chris saw a cool blue jellyfish washed ashore that I was too distracted to see (photo is hers).  A good reminder to not swim in these waters!  A rough undertow and sharks keep swimmers on shore.
Jellyfish near the wreck of SS Maheno, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia.  Photo courtesy Chris of s/v Scintilla.
The colorful sandstone cliffs of the Pinnacles marked our turnaround point.  Much as we appreciated the bright, sunshiny day, visiting them in early morning or that just-a-little-before-sunset golden light would've made for far more glorious lighting to for viewing and photography.

Eli Creek, a tributary leading to the sea gave us another opportunity to take a final afternoon dip.  A boardwalk leads to a spot upstream that invites a drift, some float, some 'tube it, like the trio of our 20-something hitch-hikers, along for the ride.  We waded instead of drifting when we heard one of our fellow passengers comment the stream was shallow enough she bumped bottom several spots along the way.
Inner tubes.  Best way to go down Eli Creek.  Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia.
We also stopped off at the colorful Pinnacles, our furthest North stop along Fraser's surf-torn East Coast.  Pretty, though in an ideal world, catching it in more subtle or golden light would've made its beauty far more photogenic.  
Even in flat afternoon light, Fraser Island's sandstone Pinnacles are still colorful.  Queensland, Australia.
This is not sugar-gum tree graffiti, but moth larvae from an earlier life phase eating their way through the trunk's bark.
Fraser Island's normally rippled sand dunes got a bit of a face-lift from the recently shifted winds.  Thus they were smooth and not terribly exciting in the distance and the flat afternoon light.  Thus, Peter chose that time to point out the designerly efforts from the larvae of a moth in the trunks of the sugar-gum trees.  They burrow their under the bark, making an intriguing embroidery-like pattern as they feed and eventually eat their way out from underneath before they transform into moths.

Our illustrious and quite funny 9-toed Fraser Island tour guide, Peter Meter.  Check out his photos! (The ones he takes - not this one;))
We’re exceptionally grateful Peter’s first and boyhood visit to Fraser, where he lost a toe hot-rodding a motorbike into a tree didn’t put him off on the island – hence the “9-toed tour.”  We’re betting tons of other Fraser visitors lucky enough to enjoy the island under his wing will feel the same.
Cruiser buddies, tour-mates  and all around nice blokes Chris and Chris of s/v Scintilla demonstrate what to do
after the Fraser Island tour.
Location Location
We toured Fraser Island (S25.22.852 E153.01820, near Kingfisher Lodge) a few days ago, November 19-24, 2016.  We are currently on passage between two Brisbane area anchorages, from Scarborough Marina (S27.11.606 E153.06.370) to Manly.  There are still a few more posts from Fraser Island coming as well as a few final catch-up posts from New Caledonia.
Fraser Island tour map, pilfered from Nomad's Fraser Island Tours.  Queensland, Australia.
Cruising By the Numbers
  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia was 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu was 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji was 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas. and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.

Up Next

After Brisbane and Gold Coast, we’ll mosey on down to off to Pittwater, near Sydney by early December 2016 for boat work. Weather permitting, we’ll stop along the way whatever else strikes our fancy. 


Friday, November 25, 2016

Australia: Beyond Bundaberg’s Port Marina

Bundaberg Port Marina, docks at sunset.  Queensland, Australia.
Seafood platter, courtesy Ocean Cruising hosted /
potluck, Bundaberg Port Marina. Queensland, Australia.
“Bundaberg:  Closest Australia check-in from New Caledonia,” was the Down Under Rally hook.  Technically, that’s true.  In the grand scheme, though, when you’ve at least 700 miles to sail, when the commitment’s made early enough, the difference of one (to Bundaberg, or Bundy as the locals call it) diagonal or another (to BrisVegas – errr – Brisbane) on the same coastline isn’t all that big.

Nonetheless, if we chose Brisbane to enter Australia, we would miss out on Unesco World Heritage site   Fraser Island, which is South of Bundaberg.  Plus, many of our friends who chose to come to Bundaberg with the Down Under Rally, and after a week and a half’s passage with no one but just us two , we kinda wanted to catch up with friends.

The antics of this crazy-eyed yellow throated miner amused us at our Bundaberg Botanic Gardens picnic lunch spot under the gazebo. Queensland, Australia.
As we arrived at the tail-end of the rally events, most of the folks we knew had already spent a week here and we figured they’d be on their way out pretty quickly, Southbound, like us.  Our plan was to check-in, catch up on friends and set-up phone and wifi, provision, do laundry, refill our water and fuel and get out.  Generally, we can accomplish all that in 3 days or less. Check-in ate our first half-day, but that’s pretty quick compared to a number of countries which entailed up to 3 days to complete.  Figuring out that our unlocked Alcatel Android phone was incompatible with Australia's phone network when using the phone as a cellular data hotspot took that long to figure out.  Our cheapest solution was to buy the least expensive locked Telstra Android mobile phone, $69 AUS.

Eastern Water Dragon, Bundaberg’s Botanic Gardens.
The Southwesterlies, however, had other ideas with its in-your-face gusts effectively foiling speedy South-bound plans.

While we fretted about spending 6 days in Bundy, most of the folks we knew found themselves there for 2-3 weeks or more.  As expected, they’d planned on sailing South the day after the rally activities finished, and were really chomping at the bit.  Most remained docked at the Bundaberg Port Marina, or anchored just outside at the mouth of the Burnett River.

Funny duck at Bundaberg’s Botanic Gardens.
Certainly, Bundaberg Port  Marinas an accommodating spot.  Clean, nice shower and laundry facilities, restaurant, wifi, take-away and bar on site, fuel and water.  The local IGA grocer offered cruisers rides to and from their store (we walked there, rode back with a huge load of groceries) and there’s a free van to town in the morning, and the local bus for the return trip, though 3:30 pm for the last one is too early in my books. For a relatively paltry $49 AUD you can rent a car for the day, though we didn't.

Did I mention Bundaberg Port Marina’s showers – emphatically enough?  When Wayne asked “How was your shower?” knowing that I bypassed our more convenient hot shower aboard for the marina’s showers for a much needed good long hair wash.  “Orgasmic!”  I replied, with a blissfully contented sigh and the cleanest hair and scalp I’ve had since the marina showers in Whangarei New Zealand, where I had to feed “gold coins” for those nice but timed showers.  It’s amazing how easily it is to satisfy a cruiser who’s spent so much time at sea and in second and third world countries with a clean, working shower with good water pressure and drainage that requires no coins to operate and no button to push every few seconds to flow. 

Cattle Egret at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.  Its plumage turns rust-toned only during mating season.
We spent two nights at Bundaberg Port Marina.  On our first night enjoyed a lovely Ocean Cruising Club hosted / potluck dinner, located in a nice covered picnic area.

However, “Flies of biblical proportions,” as Ann of Sofia described them were a nuisance.  Apparently they floated in with the Southwesterlies en masse.  They didn’t bite, but they incessantly buzzed ears and eyes and settled in hordes on our backs as if it was a concert mosh pit.  Ok, I’m exaggerating… a little.

Curious emu at Bundaberg’s Alexander Park Zoo.
Rather than scrambling to get out biz – and fun, for that matter, if we were “stuck” for a while -- done in time in time for the bus back, we decided to just sail closer to town.  The relatively shallow Burnett River meanders eight miles to town, with the option to anchor for free* right off downtown, then just dinghy up to shore at the public dock.  And the flies didn’t seem to make it to Bundy-town. Our sailboat has a pretty shallow draft, 4 ½ feet, shallow enough to not get grounded.   So downtown we went, planning our trip to take best advantage of the tidal flow.

We anchored just short of the bridge, as it was lower than our mast is tall.

These two goannas made a cute couple at Bundaberg’s Alexander Park Zoo. Queensland, Australia.
Proximity to downtown made it much easier for us to get our phone and wifi set up as we were just a hop and a skip to the Telstra store.  We also topped off our groceries and libations.

Within less than an hour, given we were still waiting for favorable winds, we had time to play!

Bridges of Burnett River, Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia.
We checked out the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens (so-so gardens but great place to check out birds and aquatic life) and Fairymead Home / SugarCane Museum (a good place to learn Australia ranks third in the world in export of raw sugar).  Fairymead home was moved to the gardens from another location in 5 large pieces via flatbed truck! Its hours are limited, so check ahead and plan accordingly.  

The park also houses an aviation museum dedicated to famed local pilot, Bert Hinkler*, Bundaberg Railway Museum and the Bundaberg District & Historical Museum we passed on, as time was short and we didn’t want to get museum-ed out.  We also dropped by the tiny and free zoo in Alexander Park. Parched, we then partook in an incredibly affordable drink ($7 Australian total for 1 beer and 1 wine) overlooking the river at the RSL – Returned Service League (as Wayne is a USA veteran with 20+ years duty).

Wrought-iron gingerbread was one of the turn-of-the-century
architectural details that enchanted us in Bundaberg.
*Hinkler’s best known aviation achievements were his solo flight from England to Australia in 1928 and the world’s first solo flight across the South Atlantic in 1931.

Largely settled around the late 1800s, we found Bundaberg’s well-preserved architecture charming.  The sunset just West of the Bundaberg bridge was picture perfect.  In the morning, we awoke to a birdsong concerto, then the red-throated welcome swallows partied on our lifelines and rigging, as many as 40 at a time.

We counted as many as 40 welcome swallows on our boat at a time.
Burnett River, Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia.
Pleasant as the Bundaberg Port Marina is, I wondered aloud why anyone would spend 3 weeks there, when they could anchor downtown, with much more to do, for free.  Bundaberg Port Marina was $48/night AUD for 36.5’ boat.

“But it’s kind of like a world cruiser sailing to the USA and ending up in St. Helens on the Columbia” mused Wayne.  “It’s just not what non-local people do!”  Then again, when we lived in the Portland Oregon area, summertime we loved taking our small motor boat to the tiny riverfront town of St. Helens, a little past our favorite beach on the river, Sauvie Island.  St. Helens has a nice free public dock, clean bathrooms with showers, a vintage movie theater, and free concerts on Thursday nights.  Most folks in Portland don’t even know St. Helens exists.

Heather de Villiers, who “found” us on
the 
Pearson 365 sailboat forum
touched us by driving all the way 
down
from Hervey Bay to meet us in Bundy
and show us around.
Our last day downtown, Heather drove to Bundy from her home in the sort-of-nearby Hervey Bay area to welcome us. As Hervey Bay is heavily populated by pensioners, they call it [with typical dry Ozzie wit], “God’s waiting room,” she told us. A former wanna-be Pearson sailboat owner, Heather got to know us a bit from my blog links on the Pearson 365 forum.  Heather’s boat owning days are done, but as a volunteer she sails the tall ship South Passage.

Thanks to Heather playing tour guide, we were able to take in the view of the Bundy area from The Hummock Lookout, check out the popular Bagara coastal area.  Finally, no trip to Bundaberg would be considered complete without at least checking out the store* at the famed Bundaberg Rum Distillery.  Heather also left us with the Maritime Safety Queensland’s Beacon to Beacon Directory, which we’re putting to good use right now.

*$30 AUD each for the Bundaberg Rum Distillery tour was far too dear for our tight cruising budget, especially as we’ve toured several rum distilleries elsewhere for free or paltry fee.  Besides, we're not that keen on Bundy Rum, though there's still a Dark & Stormy (classic Bundaberg rum and ginger beer) in my future.


Even the barrel-shaped changing rooms followed the rum theme
at Bundaberg Distillery store.
We suspect we saw more of Bundaberg in 6 days than our marina-bound friends did in 3 weeks.  It’s a pleasant spot, with friendly locals and an easy place to spend time without spending much money.  There’s always more to see, yet we feel we paid our respects reasonably well to this lovely little Queensland town and are grateful for the experience. 

Now we’re itching to head South, and see more of the great land of Oz.

Location Location
This is a recent retrospective of our time at Bundaberg Port Marina (S24.45.618 E152.23.794) November 14-16, 2016, and Bundytown anchorage (S24.51.796 E152.20.892) November 16-18, 2016.  We also anchored at the Burnett River mouth (S24.45.411 E152.23.704) the night before we arrived at Bundaberg Port Marina and the night after Bundytown (S24.45.405 E152.23.728) as we staged our hop to Fraser Island.  By the time you read this, we’ll be underway on an overnight passage from the Fraser Island area (watch for at least one more post on Fraser Island as well as still some catch-up posts on New Caledonia) to Scarborough Marina, a suburb of Brisbane, just a tad under 100 mile sail.

The Hummock Lookout offered an excellent territorial view of the cane growing region surrounding Bundaberg.
Cruising By the Numbers
  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia was 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu was 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji was 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas. and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.

Up Next
After Brisbane and Gold Coast, we’ll mosey on down to off to Pittwater, near Sydney by early December 2016 for boat work. Weather permitting, we’ll stop along the way whatever else strikes our fancy.