We have now arrived in Darwin after a 6 week trip from Brisbane. We had to go a bit faster than we would have liked because we needed to get hauled in Brissie before we left and hadn't expected this. Thought I would share some impressions about the trip.
- It is longer than it looks on the map - just over 2000 nm
- There are not very many people along the way after Cairns. It is remarkable how empty the land is.
- I expected more boats along the way. Other than folks going to Darwin for the Indonesia rally there were only about 5 or 6 that we saw.
- The small cities/towns along the way are quite lovely, with large differences between them. Bundaberg is a good honest farm town, while Cairns was all young people with lots of backpackers. Local governments have done a great job of developing the waterfront areas.
- You better like running and broadreaching. After Bundaberg the forecasts were either SE 10 to 15 or SE 25 to 30. We found that the 10 to 15s were more likely 8 to 12s and not very good for making good progress. We found the 25 to 30s necessary for getting somewhere.
- Going north and having the Great Barrier Reef come closer and closer to the mainland was fascinating and a bit intimidating You have to give great credit to Captain Cook and those who came after him who went through these waters with no charts, no depth sounder and no engine.
- Many lovely beaches and anchorages and water temps that were over 85°F, but you could not go swimming because there were crocs everywhere. We stopped in the Escape River where there is a pearl farm run by a very nice couple. They invited us to visit and we asked about crocs. Bronwyn said that the crocs in the river were very well-fed and we should not have a problem when we were in our dinghies if we kept moving. That makes you feel secure. You think about the number of times you have had to clean the jets in the carb of the mighty 6 hp Mercury. You understand why many Aussies have 'tinnies' for tenders (small aluminum fishing boats).
- We caught our largest fish to date a barracuda that was about 52" long and around 30 pounds. All you want on a handline. We really decided we should have bought a gaff instead of a net.
Overall I would say that it is a more interesting cruising ground than I expected, although the Whitsundays were not as nice as I expected them to be. I thought they would be of the calibre of something like the Grenadines but I certainly did nott think so - perhaps people like them because you can swim there.