Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and on to Coff's Harbour. 30:18.25S, 153:08.83E
From the East Coast marina in Manly Boat Harbour it was an easy trip by train into the centre of Brisbane and for the same price we could carry on by bus to the Lone Pine Koala Centre. We spent a few hours there seeing the native wildlife such as dingos, kangaroos and wallabies, Tasmanian devils, crocodiles and koalas. The sanctuary is said to have done good work with koalas during the bush fires a couple of years ago, but we felt some were not happy with their environment. There were also displays of sheep dog working and raptors.
A Wedge Tailed Eagle in the Raptor display
We had wanted to do a guided walking tour of Brisbane but they were fully booked so on another day we did a self-guided tour along the south bank before crossing the river by free ferry and returning past the botanical gardens on the north bank.
Many of Brisbane’s old buildings, seemed to have been turned into bars and restaurants. The Treasury was also a casino.
Skyscrapers were still being built alongside the old buildings and there was lots of construction work going on in preparation for the 2032 Olympics
Sculptures on the river
The Howard Smith Wharves had also been turned into restaurants and at 2.30pm on a Friday were packed. The weekend obviously starts early here!
When the weather finally eased we made a determined attempt to get south and had a great sail on a light southerly wind down Moreton Bay to the start of the inland waterways. This area of narrow passages between islands and sandbanks leads down from Moreton Bay to the Gold Coast. The first day we motored for a couple of hours to anchor beside Russell Island – the last time we were to have an anchorage to ourselves.
Our route inside North and South Stradbroke Islands from East Coast marina in the north to where we exited the waterways at the Gold Coast Seaway in the south. Our anchorages are marked by stars
We didn’t leave the anchorage by Russell Island until the next afternoon as we needed the right tide. Firstly we had to go under a power cable (not a problem for a boat of our size, but overhead obstructions always look to be too low for your mast) then we needed a rising tide to get through the shallows at Jacobs Well. We went through 2 hours before high water with about half a meter under the keel at the shallowest point.
The shallows were never far away coming down through Jacobs Well
We anchored for two nights at Tippler’s Passage next to South Stradbroke Island and walked across to the ocean beach – a huge sweep of beautiful sand with just a couple of fishermen there beside us. Its a surf beach so is probably much busier in the right conditions. On the second night we were woken by a sudden increase in the wind and stayed up for an hour watching as a band of thunderstorms rumbled past to our north. There were wild wallabies on the island and the kookaburras were very noisy in the trees in the evenings
The ocean beach at South Stradbroke Island
Our anchorage at Tippler’s Passage
The next day the channels were wider and we sailed down to where the buildings of the Gold Coast start. This area is said to have been named because only rich Brisbaners could afford to live there. After the beaches and mangroves further north it was quite a culture shock to find ourselves among the expensive houses and skyscrapers, with canal developments where you have a personal dock at the end of your garden.
Gold coast property
Looking from our anchorage to Gold Coast City
Our last anchorage was just inside the Gold Coast Seaway, the pass we would use to get back out to sea. The tide was right on Saturday morning and we had favourable northerly winds, so we crossed the bar an hour before high water heading for Coff’s Harbour, 160 miles to the south. We motor sailed on a light wind for the first four hours then got sailing as the wind increased. It was a rolly passage on an easterly swell but there was enough wind to keep us moving and we made a very respectable 6-7 knots for most of the trip, gradually reefing as the wind increased. In the last couple of hours the wind pushed us offshore until we had to gybe (turn the back of the boat through the wind) to make our destination. We picked up one of two public moorings in Coff’s Harbour at 1100 hours. It is the start of the school holidays so the beach was packed and there were children jumping from the jetty behind us into the sea all day. At low water there were people surfing, seemingly just a short distance from our mooring
From the top of Muttonbird Island, which is joined to the land by a breakwater forming the northern side of the harbour. You can see two yachts on the moorings between the jetty and the marina
On Monday we came into the small marina to escape the swell in the outer harbour and will stay until the weather allows us to carry on south. We discovered that Coff’s Harbour Hash House Harriers were meeting on the Esplanade on Monday evening so joined them for a walk down the jetty and along the beach to the south side of the harbour. The planned trail was longer but an impending thunderstorm had us returning early to a shelter in the park for drinks and pizzas.
Hash ceremonies, just before the thunderstorm sent paper plates and napkins blowing everywhere.