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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Brisbane to Darwin - impressions
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-10-2012 05:20 AM
killarney_sailor
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

We quite like Darwin although I can only imagine what it must be like in summer with 1000% humidity and temps of 43C. It does not feel like a frontier place at all. The cover of the things to do magazine featured the Darwin Symphony Orchestra and they have arty films under the stars a few times a week. Lots of resort condos - seems like a bigger city than its population would suggest, but that might be because of the tourists here.

We have a camper van and will be heading the interior for a week or so which should be interesting. Applied for the Indonesian visas today and passed the biohazards test so we can enter a marina. The marinas are all protected by lock gates and we can only enter and leave when tides are greater than 4m. Highest tide we have had was 7.0 m. When we get back we are going to see an AFL game between a team from Adelaide and a team from Melbourne. Not sure why they are playing here, except money of course.

The Ozzie cities we have visited along the way all have their particular charm and are quite different from each other, with the farm atmosphere of Bundaberg to the money/boom town feel of Mackay and the backpacker sense of Cairns. I think they would all be quite civilized places to live.
07-09-2012 10:25 PM
Classic30
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
Now Bruce... I'll be very interested to read your impressions of Darwin itself. In the 70's it was a crazy wee outhouse of civilisation. Bugger all to recommend it really. Then Tracey flattened it but I've not been there since.
A few pointers from someone who has spent far too much time there:
1. There's great eating (if you're into fresh seafood) along the wharf.
2. Crocodylus Cove (in the center of town) is worth a visit if you don't plan to hire a car to see crocs in their more usual habitat.
3. The Night Market.. a must see.
4. The Australian Pearling Exhibition is quite interesting.

Oh, and make allowance for the tide. They don't have the biggest tidal range in the world, but it can't be far off...
07-09-2012 10:03 PM
Cruisingdad
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by St Anna View Post
I havent explored it, but it is on the list for next time I get up there.

I have only sailed a dogs hind leg kinda course in order to get a beam reach and follow it as the high down south moved across.

I had a great across the gulf in May 2009




The Gulf and Arnhem land is still a frontier - so thats why I have it on the list

cheers
Hey hold on... You actually know to sail??? WHen did this happen!?? (Just kiding my friend. Hope you are doing well. More PICS!!!!).

Brian
07-09-2012 09:59 PM
Cruisingdad
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by killarney_sailor View Post
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 85įF, 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.
GREAT review. Wow. THanks for posting that. Hope others with similar destinations will take a look.

Brian
07-09-2012 07:59 PM
tdw
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by St Anna View Post
I havent explored it, but it is on the list for next time I get up there.
I have only sailed a dogs hind leg kinda course in order to get a beam reach and follow it as the high down south moved across.
I had a great across the gulf in May 2009
The Gulf and Arnhem land is still a frontier - so thats why I have it on the list
cheers
So you sailed across to the NT and then back again ? So many people I've spoken to reckon that is a horror stretch (west - east i.e) . I'd love to go over to the Kimberley Coast and down but not at all sure about crossing the Bight. Flew very low over the thing once , not at all sure I want to get any closer than that.

Now Bruce... I'll be very interested to read your impressions of Darwin itself. In the 70's it was a crazy wee outhouse of civilisation. Bugger all to recommend it really. Then Tracey flattened it but I've not been there since.
07-09-2012 04:51 AM
Classic30
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by St Anna View Post
The Gulf and Arnhem land is still a frontier - so thats why I have it on the list
Thar lies native lands!...

Seriously though, you'd have to pick your season just right. (a) In a not just few places you need permission from the locals (ie. a written invitation in advance) to land and (b) the Gulf gets pretty shallow towards the southern shoreline. Strong northerlies kick up a nasty chop on a lee shore and no shelter for miles.



But that's more than enough from me.. back to Killarney's exploits!
07-09-2012 03:11 AM
killarney_sailor
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

More news from the northland. One of the other Canadian boats arrived here with a great tail and some evidence too. They anchored in the Escape River and had a croc attack their boat in the middle of the night. I guess it could see the flag fluttering at the stern and jumped a couple of times. One jump tore off the outer red band on the flag (a political statement of some sort?) and on another he chipped off the gelcoat at the corner of the swim platform. Boat was an Amel and the couple were asleep in stern cabin right next to where the croc hit. They said it felt like another boat hit them.

Question about boat speed - our fastest 24 hours was 193 nm going from the Chesapeake to the Virgins (it was honking). On this trip across the Gulf we had a couple of days around 130 and a couple around 150. We got to the Wessel Islands just at dark so kept going since I was not going to mess around trying to find an anchorage in the dark where the charts might have one sounding in a bay (or none at all). The older I get the more conservative I am about sail choices - I really don't want to break (or wear out) anything in a remote spot.
07-09-2012 02:07 AM
St Anna
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdw View Post
Hey StAnna .... you ever ventured down into the gulf ? The boat I was on had come up to TI from Weipa but that was as far in as he went. I've often wondered if the gulf itself is worth exploring.

I havent explored it, but it is on the list for next time I get up there.

I have only sailed a dogs hind leg kinda course in order to get a beam reach and follow it as the high down south moved across.

I had a great across the gulf in May 2009




The Gulf and Arnhem land is still a frontier - so thats why I have it on the list

cheers
07-09-2012 01:30 AM
tdw
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

Hey Bruce, bestest to you both. I'll second StAnna on that , it was great catching up with you two when you passed through Sydney. I guess I can also second you on Oz Customs and prices .... do not get him started on that .... For you fureners it would have been a lot cheaper a few years back when the South Pacific Peso was headed for USD.50.

I'd love to sit and have a yarn re that passage. I did Thursday Island to Darwin via Gove in the late 1970s. What a trip that was back then. I'd love to do it again if only to see the changes and to have a serious nosh in Darwin.

Hey StAnna .... you ever ventured down into the gulf ? The boat I was on had come up to TI from Weipa but that was as far in as he went. I've often wondered if the gulf itself is worth exploring.

One thing is for certain, there is an uptightness about Australia that can be somewhat disconcerting even to a native yet it is thoroughly mixed in with our larrikin streak. Maybe one is a hangover from the influence of the English public service while the other is to do with the big slug of Irishness we inherited. Whatever it is .... She'll be right mate but only if in triplicate and signed by a JP ....
07-09-2012 01:08 AM
Classic30
Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by chall03 View Post
The Whitsundays i think get over-hyped. I do still enjoy them, but in reality when cruising Queensland there are prettier islands elsewhere, better snorkelling/diving elsewhere and nicer beaches elsewhere.
True enough, but let's just say that both the Whitsundays and realistically the entire coast of NQ simply ain't what it used to be. From personal experience the original hype was well-founded indeed - some 15-20 plus years ago.

North Queensland and the Reef in general has really, really suffered at the hands of run-amuck tourists and get-rich-quick-and-get-out tour operators over the last few decades - but if you're living there you don't tend to notice the change so much.

Nowadays the better diving and nicer beaches are well off the tourist track - like the back of Shaw Island and the Percy's...
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