Sailing the Australian East Coast

Thu 24 May 2007 23:33

                                    CARELBI IN AUSTRALIA, EAST COAST


 When Carelbi has been out of the water for months there is quite a lot that has to be done, most importantly the anti-fouling, and this time, the clearing from all her seacock exits of the glutinous wasp nests that had been constructed in our absence. We were not best pleased that Scarborough Marina had not advised us to tape over all external holes as this is apparently a well-known problem.



We had both worked hard in the tremendous Australian heat painting her, but I had stupidly walked into the propellor and split a two inch gap open in my head... 4 stitches and 5 hours waiting in the local hospital, I was not a life-threatened emergency. Before Carelbi could go back into the water the blanks left by her winter cradle props had to be over-painted with anti-fouling, Chris is adding the final touches while she is supported in the hoist's cradle.







And these are the White Sand Cliffs, a title we felt was long on wishful thinking.




Chris is exceedingly fond of scallops, which unfortunately bring me out in wonderful pillar-box red splotches and render me violently ill for 24 hours. He was delighted to see all these enormous beasties being sucked out of a scallop bottom-scooper trawler, shot up a chute and hurled down into their container, designated, no doubt to be eaten that evening in the seafood restaurants of Australia's large cities.


You cannot summon a handyman in the middle of the ocean, so Chris has to be engineer, electrician, plumber and general factotum, inexpertly aided by myself, and when we are lucky, a friend or two who know something about boats. Nothing has easy access and servicing a generator means upheaval in the galley, as above, and, to the right, taking literally everything out of the aft locker to get at our automatic pilot's arms which had decided to go on strike.




This is the Ozzie version of a Hilton hotel where visiting yachties can come ashore and spend the night on unmoving dry land (the anchorages up the east coast are particularly rolly and not conducive to comfortable sleep). Judging by the number of complimentary mementos left a fair number have accepted the invitation over the years. It all looked a bit spooky and grotty to us and the presence of sand flies drove us back swiftly to Carelbi for a bite-free night.




Chris and I went for a walk on Narra Island past an old cave which had been an Aboriginal home many thousands of years past. These drawings were left behind, but no explanation was offered on the tourist information, to me they look like racquets for walking in the snow, but that's not possible down here...




We cannot resist a beautiful picture of Carelbi in some lovely bay, so here she is at Narra.



While at Cid Harbour we met a happy man who had swopped his brick home, seven years or so ago, for a square house on a floating platform. He vagabonds around with his wife and his lobster pots and we were lucky enough to persuade him to swop us a huge crab for a couple of bottles of wine. Pete is holding just one of its claws and Chris can't wait to crack it open and eat it.





  These are the Kurunda Falls, which also double up as a hydroelectric plant.










A galah,  native of Oz


















A cassowary... fabulous plumage



Alexandrine parrot from India



Chris with probably an Eclectus parrot from Oz


To finish up with, one of the tropical trees so prevalent in this northern part of Australia, I think it's of the ficus species, but would be very happy to be corrected. Have you ever seen so many trunks on one tree?




Here, the hoist is arriving for Carelbi. This was a fraught time as we were at the limit of its lift weight, Carelbi weighs 30 tonnes and this was only a 35 tonne travel lift.The operators, however, were really skilled and handled this huge machine with carefree ease.


Carelbi trundling through the car park to the water... and being lowered back into the Pacific.
We left Scarborough Marina, turned left and headed north towards what is reputed to be the biggest sand island in the world, Fraser Island where we were to take a tortuous and shallow channel up to Bundaberg between it and the mainland coast.
This is what a typical sand spit looks like.
I have been accused of only showing the idyllic side to our cruising, but my concern has been not to bore my audience. Just this once, I bow to the pressure to show the non-glamorous bits. Unfortunately for us yachties, the cruising life is probably at least 20% maintenance: fixing engines that won't start, generators that won't work, steering gear that stops functioning at the most inconvenient moment, freezers whose compressors die on you when full to the brim of good meat and mahi mahi - best of the ocean's freshly caught fish, and, worst of all, the blocked toilet.
We were sitting in a resort on Keppel Island eating some well-earned fish and chips after a long, hot walk from our anchorage when this wicked kookaburra swooped down and stole a particularly choice chip from Chris's fingers, brushing his face as it flew past it was so close.
We picked up some friends, Pete and Joan,  for a week's sailing in the Whitsunday Islands, which boast some lush tropical rainforest... and some attractive tropical funghi, I have a weakness for funghi photos.
We passed this beautiful bird later on the path, Australia has some of the most excitingly coloured and beautiful birds I have yet seen in our travels, and as they don't appear to be particularly frightened of humans they are easy to approach and watch.
We did an overnight passage up to Cairns, not having found the Whitsundays any good at all for coral or fish and spent a morning at Kurunda in some magnificent tropical rainforest. Australia is very good at preserving its forests; most of the islands on the way up are pure forest and protected reserves, as are their surrounding waters and fish, while the coastline is also almost unbroken forest.

A vine in a hurry to go somewhere in the rainforest.

After the rainforest we visited a place called 'Bird World' which turned out to be a magical experience. A large slice of forest had been netted over and some sixty or so different species were flying around freely inside. Obviously totally unafraid of the humans who walked amongst them, they came to perch on shoulders or hands, crawl up backs and arms, potter on the paths, and flaunt themselves magnificently in the trees.
The following photos show a selection of these lovely creatures from many different countries... so if you're not into birds, fast forward!
Blue & gold macaw from South America
Red-tailed black cockatoo, not to be messed with...
Scarlet macaw from South America.
Sun conures from Central America
Black winged stilt, gently snoozing on the path..
We are now about halfway to Darwin from our starting point just north of Brisbane, where we will be joining a rally in mid-July to take us through Indonesia.