After an enjoyable stay at Manly Marina, in company now with our friends from WA Scott and Sonja we headed out to Tangalooma on Moreton Island.
As it turned out this proved to be a less-than-inspired choice with a slight wind shift overnight making it very choppy and rolly… read uncomfortable place to stay.
Next morning ASAP we weighed anchors and departed for Mooloolabah via the many channels and sandbars that make up Northern Moreton Bay.
After exiting the last twisty channel and entering the ocean proper, we were treated to an awesome sight of a whale performing a linked series of breaches and belly flops… very close to us.
So close that we were shocked into indecision on a change of course or underwear. Finally the spell broke, the camera came out and we captured a very small part in what was a most aggressive and breathtaking display.
The rest of the journey by comparison was mundane but saw us motoring into Mooloolaba in the early afternoon and taking up an anchorage in the ‘duckpond’ just up from town.
The next couple of days flew by in visits to town and beach with lots of socialising in between for good measure.
Our next leg of the journey was to take us to within spitting distance of the much famed Wide Bay Bar. This patch of water has a fearsome reputation for wild waves, shallow water and unpredictability over its unusually long length.
Giving ourselves the best fighting chance here meant arriving at the bar three hours after low tide, almost no swell and next to no breeze. After a night spent hiding behind Double Island Point we crossed the bar without mishap around noon the following day.
With relief and satisfaction all went well and we motored on up to Garry’s anchorage for the night.
The haven from winds and swell that is Garry’s anchorage proved true as described and we spent another two days here soaking up the serenity.
On the 16th of August we moved out into the Sandy Straits to motor further north to South White Cliffs. This very deep anchorage hugs the eastern side of Fraser Island, providing shelter from the less than pleasant south easterly winds we were experiencing at that time. This was strictly an overnight stay, the next day found us motor/sailing the rest of the Great Sandy Straits and out into Hervey Bay proper.
After clearing the sometimes shallow waters here we were at last able to trim the sails and head Northward along Fraser Island. Stopping for the night at Arch Cliffs was magic as with the seas calm and a blazing sunset as our backyard we partook of some much deserved refreshment.
On the way into Arch cliffs we were greeted by a friendly whale close by waving its tail at us as if to say “welcome to Hervey Bay”. Very impressive.
After a glorious nights sleep, Scott and Sonja motored off to find some whales whilst we hit the shore for a scenic walk on a gorgeous untouched beach. Well, untouched if you ignored the 4WD track that is. ;
Upon rejoining Freespirit 52 we were a little shocked to discover a remarkable lack of motor capability. In fact upon turning the key it was a big fat nothing!! Investigation revealed a fault in the ignition switch and a temporary fix was MacGyvered, then we headed back to Hervey Bay Marina to rectify.
We also took the opportunity whilst tied up in the marina to restock our depleted stores and perform other maintenance duties. Thus refuelled and repaired we headed out four days later with our course plotted for the Burnett River and Bundaberg.
With the seas slight and the forecast for light winds it wasn’t a fascinating leg by any stretch however it was good to be moving again. Our friends Scott and Sonja had by this time already made passage there after some wonderful close encounters with whales off Rooney Point.
Thus we arrived at the Port of Bundaberg in good conditions anchoring up near our friends shortly thereafter. The anchorage here is not that deep though swift tides require quite a lot of scope to dig in effectively. We witnessed a catamaran who had not made this precaution transit backwards rapidly with the strong winds and big tide the next day. Fortunately the wayward anchor bit just as the craft closed with the shore, preventing a more serious grounding on the awaiting rocks.
After five days in what was an otherwise pleasant anchorage we once more weighed and sailed for Pancake Creek. This leg was on paper a fairly long sail however with gusty though favourable winds and a bit of hand steering to combat the boisterous chop, we managed to shave a good many hours from it along the way.
Very pleasurable to arrive in this pretty part of the world with plenty of time to find a good spot to drop our anchor and enjoy a well deserved sundowner. 😉
The following morning both Singita and Freespirits’ crews went ashore and walked to the Bustard Head Lighthouse, a distance of 2.4 klm. That didn’t include the vertical element of course which turned it into a much more demanding walk than advertised! By pure chance and luck we met Stuart Buchanan there who gave us a short but very informative tour of the lighthouse itself and the associated buildings. Stuart has written a very informative book about the history and final restoration of the lighthouse called “Lighthouse of Tragedy, the story of Bustard Head Lighthouse; Queensland’s first coastal light”.
The lighthouse has had a checkered career and been the unfortunate site of multiple drownings, suicides and even a murder, all well documented and described in tragic detail. I lucked into a borrowed copy from a neighbour anchored next to us in Pancake Creek and read more about the amazing things Stuart had told us during the tour. A past lighthouse keeper himself, Stuart was the President of the Bustard Head Lighthouse restoration committee and along with his wife was a driving force in the transformation project. Not only that but he is a delightful chap with a wicked sense of humour to boot. Well done Stuart.
‘till next time…..