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OCC RoRC report from Queensland

by Stuart & Anne Letton 28 Jul 06:16 UTC
River at Port Douglas © Stuart & Anne Letton

Nobody told us about cruising Queensland. But then, it is getting a bit out of the way. Unless you're from Queensland of course. It does have its own pilot book though, but with page after page of terrifying descriptions of bar entries that only hardened fishermen and lifeboat crew would attempt and, if like us, you come from waters where one step too far on your annual summer paddle will have you in hundreds of feet of freezing water, it's all a bit daunting.

It's got Southport bar, famous, at least to me, for the YouTube video of a catamaran being surfed, as opposed to surfing (i.e. "surfing" implies one is in a degree of control, which this guy was absolutely not) being surfed across the bar, spray flying and ambulances waiting. It's also got the "Mad Mile" where boats have been pitch-poled and waters where a decent pair of waders would easily get you to the pub from your anchorage several miles offshore. And my personal favourite - overhead cables. "I'm pretty sure you'll get under. No problem mate". And so, perhaps like us, I think many foreign cruisers skip the Queensland coast and just hit the main harbours and perhaps just make a dash for the next hot stop; New Caledonia or Indonesia perhaps. I mean, Joshua Slocum only stopped three times.

But then, saved by that joy of cruising, meeting other folk who know the lay of the land, and have for many, many seasons, been there and done it. The walking, talking Pilot Books. We first met these guys out in the Pacific and have been on their coat tails ever since; Scott and Rachel from Tasmania, Bill and Tony from Queensland and Sydney respectively who have been up and down this coast for decades, pointed us at all the great places. And there's been loads of them.

Maryborough, one of Queensland's earliest ports where many of the early settlers first clapped eyes on their new home. Maryborough was a trading town shipping timber, wool and coal back to the motherland. It is also the birthplace of Mary Poppins. She even has her silhouette on the pedestrian crossing lights.

Lady Musgrave island, a reminder of mid Pacific being just a ring of reef with a small island at one end.

Dunk Island, named by Lieutenant Cook after the Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty. (Did his mum tell him not to dunk his sandwiches at tiffin time?"). Sadly the bar and allegedly the world's best burgers were wiped out by Cyclone Yasi in 2011. "Oh! Didn't we tell you about the cyclones. And the sharks. And the crocs?"

Cassowary and chicks in Mourilyn, strangely walking the streets and gardens in a tidy little sugar port on the Moresby River. Strange as there's supposedly only 1200 or so of these birds left in the wild. Although I have to say, hardly surprising given the carefree way mum took her chicks across the busy road.

All along by the coast there's a backdrop of mountainous coastline and, it's special knowing that not only are you following in the wake of Bill and Rachel but also Lieutenant Cook.

Next stop; Cooktown appropriately enough.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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