Monday, September 29, 2014

Whales, Wallabies, and Cockatoos

It is so hard to get a good picture of a whale.  The delay between when you press the button and when the picture actually takes is enough that the whale has already gone under.  We have seen quite a few whales.  We are careful not to get too close and make them feel harassed but they have come close to the boat on their own.

Cockatoos are around here like pigeons are in the US.  We see them alot and hear them more than that.  They are loud squawkers.  One afternoon we heard noise outside and came out to find a cockatoo walking around the boat.  We gave him some peanuts which he devoured.  He flew away when they were gone but came back an hour later for more.   This time he got a cracker but left a crumby mess.  I think he liked the peanuts better.

At Geoffrey Bay, Magnetic Island, there are Rock Wallabies living in, guess where? (the rocks).  They are like small Kangaroos.  About the size of racoons.  Like many of the other animals here, they don't seem to be too worried about people.   We brought some carrots to them which seemed to be a big hit.  They gently take the carrot and slowly eat it.  There were mum wallabies that had baby joey's in their pouches.  This place is like being at the zoo, without the zoo.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let's Shag, baby

 Pirate-front lores
There is a small island 20 miles north of the Whitsundays that acquired the name of SHAG ISLAND.  A group of cruisers founded the Shag Island Cruisers Yacht Club (  The name has evolved to 'Shaggers' and has members from all over the world.  Every member is a Vice-Commodore and is responsible for a specific geographic area that they are knowledgeable about briefing others that may be cruising there.  We are now members and my location is Harvey Cedars, New Jersey, of course.  There is an annual Shaggers Rendezvous at Shag Island and Monte's Resort on Gloucester Point.
There are quite a few business sponsors of Shagges and they give nice discounts. 
We arrived Friday afternoon and anchored with about 200 other boats.  We didn't get a close parking spot so the dinghy ride was quite far.  We did Friday Happy Hour with a band that played on the beach.  Saturday had plenty of events and a concert by a Jimmy Buffett cover band.  The Rendezvous is not just a drunk-fest but actually raises money for the Australian Prostate Cancer Foundation.  This year they raised almost $200,000.
So, we met old friends and made new ones.  We left on Sunday, made the 20 mile sail back to the Whitsundays and picked up a mooring ball in Butterfly Bay on Hook Island.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cid Harbor, Whitsunday Island

There were a few days of rough weather coming in so we went up a nice creek for some calm.  They call them Inlets but the US definition of an inlet is different.  It's really not a creek either because there is no water flowing out.  Just tidal flow.

View from Whitsunday Peak
Gulnare Inlet was very peaceful and we had no idea how hard the wind was whooping outside.  This anchorage is rarely used because the entrance depth is 1 foot at low tide.  We need 4 feet or we'll hit bottom.  But with a 10' tide and good timing you can go in and you're in an inland lake at low tide with no way out.  At least until the next high tide.

We left after 2 days for Cid Harbor.  It's really not a harbor but a big protected anchorage.  The US fleet hid in there during WWII.

We made the 5K hike to Whitsunday Peak and it was worth the aches we had the next day.
Gulnare Inlet where we 'were' anchored for 3 days

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Aussies Love Camping

One thing that we have seen everywhere we go is that Aussies love to camp.  Whether it is in a tent pitched on the beaches we pass while sailing, or in beachfront RV parks in just about every town.  There are huge migrations of 'Caravans' (RV's) heading up the Queensland Motorways this time of year similar to the US West Coasters heading up to Alaska for the summer.  

Green Areas are Parks

The Australian National Park System make the US National Parks look miniscule.  They have parks everywhere.  Town parks, roadside parks, beachfront parks, big, small, complete islands, even a reef and surrounding islands, (The Great Barrier Reef National Park).  Camping seems to be promoted everywhere by businesses and the government and is hugely cultural.

Up until now, we have never met cruisers that carry tents on their boats.  Now we have.  They have cook stoves, shovels, dutch ovens, griddles, fire pokers, and of course the tents.  A beach to an Aussie is just another place to set up camp.  If you can't get there in a 4 wheel drive, take the boat.  We've seen heaps (there's that Aussie word again) of small aluminum boats, they call'em 'Tinnies', pulled up on the beaches with tents pitched on the dunes.

So we pull in to the anchorage at Thomas Island and just because there is a sign on the beach that says 'No Fires", no worries!  We're not just talking about a campfire that you sit around and tell stories.  We're talking about building a campfire in the afternoon, doing Happy Hour, cooking dinner on it, and drinking and talking for hours.

We had so much fun and haven't smelled of smoke that much since doing a weekend of Boy Scout camping.  Dinner and conversation around an open fire has such a great feel to it.  There was still firewood left so we stayed another night just to do it all again. 

I think the Aussies really have it figured out.