AUSTRALIA NSW - BROKEN BAY,  and Journey up the Coast to Queensland

January 12, 2006

Chris has now returned home. After using the car for some last minute running around, we returned it to King's Cross and took the train/bus back to Cammeray. We then took the opportunity to get some work done on Ascension while it was on the quiet mooring. Lots to do. Gord continued his huge varnishing project trying to revitalize the companionway stairs and I reorganized the boat after stowing items in inaccessible places to make room for Chris. We took time to visit some friends at the dock, Aliesha, Citation, Drala Magic and Estrella.

It had been raining for days so we couldn't open the hatches and it was stifling hot in the boat. Regardless, we continued to enjoy the birds and even saw a Penguin swimming near the boat.  We looked forward to the nightly ritual of the gathering of screeching Cockatoos as thousands emerged from the surrounding area to gather in a nearby designated tree to roost for the night. It seemed that each night was a different tree and there were many squabbles amongst the birds vying for position before everyone was ready to settle down for the evening. But finally the  construction noise from the shore forced us to make a break and head elsewhere.

Bantry Bay

Just to take a break from civilization and for a change of scenery, we sailed to Bantry Bay, only a few miles up Middle Harbour but a world away from Sydney.

The anchorage was very quiet and protected and there were public mooring balls available so we grabbed one. We were only 12 km from downtown Sydney and surrounded by parkland and bush with no facilities whatsoever.  It has been raining cats and dogs for days so we haven't been ashore to hunt for any roads.

There was a number of buildings onshore that were off limits to visitors. They used to store ammunition and looked like they were still being very well maintained.

The first day we were there it started to rain. The rain continued relentlessly and we were getting tired of remaining on the  boat. When we thought there was a little break in the weather we ventured ashore for a hike.

A Wet Hike

The main trail leading to the Park Entrance was closed due to restoration so we took the 'detour' trail. This ended up being a rather torturous bushwalk, steep in places, almost overgrown in others. We finally emerged from the bush to a very multicultural community and followed a trail along side the highway which eventually ended at the Bantry Bay Park Entrance. There was a residential area surrounding the road but after a lengthy search we could not find a grocery store. The merciless rain had us both drenched by this time so we undertook steep trek down the trail back to the anchorage.

Birdlfe Abounds

We remained in Bantry Bay for a few days, making friends with the local pelicans and enjoying the birds living on the river, although the little blue wrens were a nuisance as they jockeyed for position on our lifelines at night to roost. In the morning they were so noisy, they were our alarm clock. One cheeky magpie kept trying to come right into the cabin for his breakfast so we had to be careful to close the hatches when we left the boat.

Bob and Becky were on a roadtrip of Western Australia, having left Stardust on the hard in Bundeburg. We took Ascension back to Manly Harbour so that we could meet up with them and spend the day together. We had not seen them for over 4 months, since Fiji.

We had lunch and drove to a nearby park, thoroughly enjoying being able to connect for a while.

The weather had been capricious and volatile, with days of rain. We finally had to take advantage of a atypical southerly to start our journey North toward Brisbane. We weighed anchor and sailed out of the harbour. However the SE wind only lasted a few hours so we just got as far as Broken Bay (20 km) and that took all day in huge swells sailing in the pouring rain under radar. The winds switched north again so we  anchored in Refuge Bay to wait for another weather window.

Broken Bay

Broken Bay is the area where the Pittwater and Hawkesbury Rivers meet to form a large bay that empties into the Tasman Sea. It is an estuary latticed with bays and an abundance of anchorages making it a popular cruising ground.

Refuge Bay,  up the Hawkesbury River, was a flat calm and peaceful 'refuge' from the bullying wind outside. Although there were thousands of mooring buoys scattered throughout the bay, there was plenty of room to anchor. However we opted just to pick up a buoy with the understanding that we would have to move if the owner came along.

When we arrived there weren't many other boats but the following day there was a constant progression of party boats filling the anchorage. Then we realized that it was the Australian Day long weekend, the biggest holiday in Australia. So the next 3 days convinced us that the Aussies are the best party animals in the world!

We really hadn't seen any other cruising boats (only the locals) for many days so we were thrilled when Steve appeared form Moonshine. We got together for drinks and news-swapping and also traded DVD's for a marathon copying session.

We didn't actually go ashore as landing the dinghy was difficult and the bay was surrounded by vertical cliffs that would make hiking difficult.

Sailing Up the Coast to Queensland

It looked like we could remain at the anchorage forever, waiting for the illusive south wind so we chose a weather window with light winds and headed back out to sea.

We beat our way up the coast against the strong current, gaining only 25 miles in 9 hours and using a lot of diesel. Since there was not much wind the sea state was comfortable.

We spent a night in New Castle at the same anchorage down the river that we had been to before. We left early and reached Port Stevens mid afternoon and picked up the same mooring buoy that we were on the trip to Sydney.

Finally winds from the south were forecasted but to 30 knots so we just hung out in Port Stevens for a few days on the boat. We were able to make use of the day-dock to get fuel and provisions, then back out to our mooring ball. The watermaker was giving us aggravation again so Gord spent all his time trying to fix it. And so it goes.....

Finally we were able to leave New Castle on a mild southerly and arrived in Coff's Harbour where we secured a slip in the marina. It was good to get some laundry done and make a trip to the grocery store.

After 3 days in Coff's Harbour perfect weather presented itself and so we were on the move again, with the intent of sailing an overnighter to Southport.