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No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

Having now travelled around Australia including Tasmania we can hand on heart say that for us there is definitely ‘no place like home’.

We loved seeing the whole of Australia, we saw some amazing sights, we got a real appreciation of the country we call home and loved catching up with friends and family all around the country as well as making new friends in the places we visited.

However as we got closer to the east coast we could feel the pull of the Pacific Ocean, the green of the rainforests and our beautiful island home of Magnetic Island. I won’t complain about the rain again. Unbelievably we had less than 10 days rain for the whole 9 months we travelled and could see the devastation to the landscape that a lack of rain causes.

We learnt that no matter where you live in Australia you will get extremes of weather sometime in the year. You just need to pick which is your preferred extreme. The exception being the lucky residents in the NSW border area of the Clarence River (Yamba and Maclean) which friends who live there explained was one of the major reasons they chose to live there – ‘the best weather in Australia’.

However for us we still think the jewel in the crown is a little island called Magnetic Island which we call home. If you don’t believe us take a look at this clip.

https://www.facebook.com/QueenslandWeekender/videos/2045825558770235/

Some statistics of our trip:

On the road

We drove approximately 23,000 kms and were very fortunate that we only had one flat tyre and a broken gear box neither of which left us stranded in the middle of nowhere.

On the water

We cruised over 1,000 nautical miles on 8 rivers, 6 estuaries, 2 archipelagos, 1 reef lagoon and 1 lake around the country. For those following our travels who are thinking of following in our footsteps we would say leave the mast at home and without a doubt don’t do the trip without a braked dual axle trailer to tow your boat.

Here’s the list of the rivers, estuaries and archipelagos we cruised.

  • Noosa River and Noosa Everglades
  • Pumicestone Passage
  • Richmond River
  • Clarence River
  • Hawkesbury River (and Pittwater)
  • Murray River
  • Coffin Bay
  • Recherche Archipelago (off Esperance)
  • Shoal Bay, Frenchman Bay and Oyster Bay (Albany)
  • Mandurah Estuary (Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary)
  • Murray River (WA)
  • Serpentine River
  • Swan River (plus out into the Indian Ocean at Freemantle)
  • Shark Bay
  • Carnarvon Fascine (plus out into the Indian Ocean)
  • Ningaloo Reef
  • Dampier Archipelago
  • Lake Argyle

Future Plans

We are heading to the Whitsundays for some cruising with the mast and sails up this time. We are also looking forward to spending time with friends there during the sailing season with perhaps some work thrown in. We then head back to Magnetic Island in November. I’m looking forward to enjoying the comforts of home like 240 electricity, hot showers whenever I want, full headroom where ever I walk and a very large bed I can sit up in without banging my head on a bulkhead!

Until next time………………

So, until next time we go ‘roving’ we are glad you have enjoyed following our travels through our Simply Roving blog. Thank you for all your lovely comments which I loved reading as I then knew someone out there was reading my ramblings and enjoying the photos I was posting.

A huge thank you to everyone who met up with us, accommodated us in their homes (a luxury that was heaven after being on the road), fed us and acted as indispensable guides. It was these occasions that were very special to us.

We also hope we have inspired some of you who own a Macgregor/Tattoo 26 boat to venture a little further.

Bye for now!

Claire & Russell

Charters Towers

Charters Towers

After Lake Argyle our ‘must-see list’ was complete. We decided against trying to get into crowded camp grounds in Kakadu National Park on this trip with a 26 foot boat under tow. It was the height of the tourist season and we knew to do the Kimberley Region of WA and the National Parks of the Northern Territory that we would need to spend extended periods on dirt roads which would best be done on future trips with just the Landrover and roof top tent. We therefore started our 5 day 3,200km long drive back to the east coast of Australia with pit stops for food and fuel in Katherine and Mount Isa. These are the only 2 towns of any size before Townsville and most days were long drives between roadhouses to fuel up.

Charters Towers was therefore our last sightseeing visit.  A lovely historic gold mining town which allowed me to indulge in a last bit of walking the historic building trail. It didn’t disappoint.

Charters Towers has kept an amazing array of beautifully preserved historic buildings and better still being only 1.5hrs from Townsville I can come and visit any time.

 

 

 

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle

Near Kununurra is Lake Argyle, Australia’s second largest freshwater man-made reservoir. It was on our list of ‘must-see’ from the beginning of our trip.

Although it is huge it’s very underdeveloped and under used. There are very few boats that use the lake and it has a difficult steep access road down to a none existent boat ramp (a large patch of gravel). It is also very difficult to anchor. We tried for 30 mins to find a place to anchor in less than 15m of water that didn’t show trees still standing upright on the depth sounder.

Visiting with a large boat like ours and anchoring overnight like we did should only be done with utmost caution and confidence in your boat handing abilities as well as being prepared to take the risk of losing an anchor. We nearly lost ours as it took us over 30mins of motoring in circles this way and then the other to untwist our anchor chain from around a tree or rock outcrop under the water.

We wouldn’t, however, hesitate to recommend that anyone travelling around Australia book into the caravan park and take a sunset cruise on this special lake.

Despite the difficulties, we wouldn’t have missed the chance to see this majestic lake with the vast array of changing colours on the hills that surround the lake at sunset and sunrise.

 

Pearls, Luggers and Camels

Pearls, Luggers and Camels

We had often heard about Broome from people who had travelled to Western Australia. We had sailed on our friend’s pearling lugger, Ruby Charlotte many times over the years. We were therefore keen to see the home of the pearling industry and pearling luggers

as well as Cable beach, 22kms long and famous for it’s camel rides and sunsets.

Although a tourist town the town’s development has been in keeping with the design of the first timber buildings built in the late 1800’s when the pearling industry first started and it’s still home to the major brands of the pearling industry such Paspaley Pearls. We thoroughly enjoyed the small but very informative local museum and of course made sure we watched the sunset over Cable Beach with a few hundred other people all toasting the setting of the sun with glasses of wine, beer and bubbles from the comfort of deck chairs and picnic rugs.

Although Cable Beach is the most famous, and for some reason the two times we visited we never did see the camels, we actually preferred Riddle Beach with its contrasting red sandstone backdrop, sparkling rock formations and rugged water’s edge.

 

Dampier Archipelago

Dampier Archipelago

While in Carnarvon we were given a very good tip to visit the Dampier Archipelago on our way up to Broome. We had never heard of this group of 42 islands off the mining ports of Dampier and Port Headland servicing the petrochemical, salt, iron ore and natural gas export industries.

All we knew of the area was that it was the industrial base of the mining industry. Certainly the industries were very prominent in and around the town but once we launched Tatui and made our way to the other side of the first line of islands it opened up to an area of pretty islands, with lovely sandy beaches, clear water, lots of coral and great fishing. It was amazing that virtually no one was sharing this boating playground with us.

 

We had picture perfect weather and it was as close to the Whitsundays area as we had seen on our whole trip around Australia.

A boating secret that we are pleased we were told about before we had passed it by.

 

Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo Reef

We had heard so much about Ningaloo Reef where you could snorkel among the coral right off the beach that it was on our ‘must do’ list. We were advised to either launch the boat at Coral Bay or Tantabiddi further up the coast. We checked out Coral Bay.

Very pretty but very crowded due to the school holidays so we headed up to Exmouth and around the lighthouse to Tantabiddi. It was a very good boat ramp but very crowded as this is where all the boats leave from for the Whale Shark tours. We decided against doing the Whale Shark tour due to cost ($400 each) and we had already ticked off an item on my bucket list, swimming with dolphins. Instead Russ and our friends Kevin and Judy went out fishing for the day while I relaxed on shore. They went out beyond the reef into the deeper water and Jude very kindly caught two lovely large cod which we thoroughly enjoyed over lunch the following day. Although it was easy to launch at Tantabiddi the holding was not good. We had to anchor in any patch of sand we could find well off shore just to get the anchor to set due to the coral rubble further inshore. After 2 nights we therefore decided to take Tatui out of the water and leave her at the Discovery Centre inside Cape Range National Park and drive down to Turquoise Bay to do our snorkelling over the reef.

There was lots of healthy looking coral although not much colour with most of the coral green or brown but there were lots of lovely tropical fish and best of all the water was swimming pool clear.

 

Bullara Station

Bullara Station

Just before we left Carnarvon we received a call from friends from Airlie Beach to say they were travelling down the Western Australian Coast (we were heading up ) and were only a few days away from us so we arranged to meet at Coral Bay. As it was school holidays the caravan parks were full but Bullara Station, a working cattle station who cater also for caravaners were taking in anyone who turned up. They had so much land they just let us all park in the cattle yards. They put on a camp fire, and cooked hamburgers on a huge BBQ for 150 guests outside the shearing shed. As well as morning tea and scones at the Homestead in the mornings.

 

 

They were able to provide hot showers and toilets for everyone. You could even try their outdoor shower heated by a ‘donkey’ burner behind.

I loved the quirky touches they had around the station which included their unique sculptures

bottle tree

 

and tv lounge in the shearing shed.

As you can imagine we caused quite a stir turning up with our boat instead of a caravan.

 

Carnarvon

Carnarvon

We decided to take a break from travelling to do some work for 1-2 months. We picked Carnavon in WA as they have a small yacht club marina that made us very welcome with our boat. The timing was very fortuitous as 70km outside Carnarvon we lost 5th gear on the Landrover. When we arrived at the marina and went to reverse the car to put the boat in the water down the ramp we found we also didn’t have reverse. A member of the yacht club kindly hitched our trailer up to his ute and launched our boat for us. An old friend of Russ’s lives in Carnarvon and kindly lent us a car while we waited a week for a new gearbox to arrive. Although it wasn’t good news that we need a new gearbox we were so thankful that we were able to get to Carnarvon first. It would have been a nightmare if we had broken down somewhere remote like Shark Bay. Even better was that we found Carnarvon to be a neat little town with a lovely estuary foreshore and pretty cafes with a few old historic buildings.

We spent two months in Carnarvon working. It was a great choice. It was wonderful to get to know the locals both at the sailing club and others through Russ’s friend Terry.

 

Terry introduced Russ to Ian who owns the local metal fabrication workshop so between Terry, Ian and a few of the yacht owners at the marina they kept Russ very busy with work while I worked on a short term contact online.

I also got the chance to meet some of the local ladies through volunteering at the ladies Mother’s Day morning tea that the yacht club hosted.

Russ also got to know many of the local sailors. The yacht club provided off the beach sail boats for anyone in the town to come down and sail free of charge each Sunday. Russ I think never missed a Sunday sail the whole time we were there.

Carnarvon is a very small and dry town but the council had made a huge effort to make the foreshore of the estuary as attractive as possible even if it meant using artificial grass.

 

The river is dry for most of the year but while we were there it went from dry to a ranging flooded torrent, rain that was very welcome to the locals and the horticultural industry. Although it is a dry river there is a large horticultural industry due to the artesian water under the river bed which is pumped to irrigate the farms. This meant lots of fruit and vegetables and we enjoyed delicacies such as sapote ice cream. Goat farming is always popular in the area and we loved the organic Moroccan goat pies.

Carnarvon is also well known internationally for its Space and Technology Museum as this Space Centre was central to the relaying of the broadcast during the landing on the Moon and Nasa’s space programme in the 1960s and 1970s as well as instrumental in broadcasting satellite tv in Australia for the first time.

At the end of our stay we took the chance to tour the surrounding are visiting the blowholes, not enough to blow on the day we were there, but the terraced rock formations were worth seeing.

The local snorkelling spot known locally as the aquarium was picture perfect

and the quirky campground at Red Bluff offered glamping in their fixed tents if you didn’t want to bring your own tent or caravan.

 

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone who had befriended us during our stay in Carnarvon but we hope some will make it over to see us on Magnetic Island one day. They gave us a delicious send off with Josh (who works on the local trawlers) donating and cooking huge tiger prawns on the barbie for us and his mum making the lovely salad and pasta to go with them.

 

Shark Bay home to dolphins, dugongs, turtles, manta rays and stromatolites

Shark Bay home to dolphins, dugongs, turtles, manta rays and stromatolites

Shark Bay was a chance for us to get out on the water again. A world marine heritage area of low lying bays and islands with pristine white sandy beaches and red low hills. Famous for its dolphins and dugongs as well as turtles, manta rays and stromatolites, similar to the thrombolites we had seen near Mandurah.

One of the more unique beaches is Shell Beach home to 4,000 cockles in one square metre.

The shells of dead cockles make up the beach many metres deep.

Russ confirmed this when he had a go at digging in a small section of the beach.

We launched at the public boat ramp at Monkey Mia. You don’t have to pay to use or park at the boat ramp only if you want to go in to the conservation park adjacent to see the feeding of the wild dolphins by the park rangers each morning. They only get fed a few small fish so they are not dependent on the rangers to feed them and it’s a great opportunity for people without a boat to see them up close. Fortunately as we had a boat the dolphins came to see us several times while we were in the area including 5 of them rounding up fish around the boat late one night. While on the water we also saw a couple of turtles, what we thought might have been a dugong and the sail training tall ship Leeuwin II, a three-masted 1850’s style barquentine that was anchored in the bay with us.

We did a long cruise while we were at Shark Bay cruising for over 20 nautical miles up the peninsula to Herald Bight below Cape Peron. We stayed there over night but with 20knot winds forecast the following day and as the bays are so wide you can’t see the other side of them it meant the waves could get quite choppy. We therefore headed back to the sheltered waters of Monkey Mia and were treated to a magnificent sunset.

If however you have a long weather window for light breezes there would be lots of places to sail to in this area. Steve Campbell of the Macregor/Tattoo Facebook group kindly sent us through a link to a great website written by sailors who have sailed the Shark Bay area for many years. They have created a very detailed log which would be invaluable to anyone else thinking of sailing this area in a trailer sailer. Click the link to read their log https://sites.google.com/a/hinchy.org/sandpiper/locations/shark-bay-area

 

 

Pinnacles, Pink Lake, Gorges and Cliffs

Pinnacles, Pink Lake, Gorges and Cliffs

As we have travelled between the small towns of Western Australia we have stopped at National Parks along the way. On our travels up the Coral Coast we wandered through the Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park, saw The Pink Lake at Port Gregory, walked the coastal cliffs and viewed the inland river gorges in Kalbarri National Park.

The Pinnacles

The pinnacles were an amazing sight. Like walking through an American Wild West film set. As to how they were formed there are apparently 3 theories which Wikipedia explains better than I can.

“The raw material for the limestone of the Pinnacles came from seashells in an earlier era that was rich in marine life. These shells were broken down into lime-rich sands that were blown inland to form high mobile dunes. However, the manner in which such raw materials formed the Pinnacles is the subject of debate. Three major theories have been proposed:

First theory states that they were formed as dissolutional remnants of the Tamala Limestone

Second theory [proposes] that they were formed through the preservation of tree casts buried in coastal aeolianites, where roots became groundwater conduits, resulting in the precipitation of indurated (hard) calcrete. Subsequent wind erosion of the aeolianite then exposed the calcrete pillars

Third theory suggests that plants played an active role in the creation of the Pinnacles, based on the mechanism that formed smaller “root casts” in other parts of the world.” Source: Wikipedia

 

The Pink Lake (Hutt Lagoon)

Not as pink as we expected it to be as it was quite shallow and very dry in parts. So much so that we could see the salt crystals glistening in the sun. Again as to why it is pink Wikipedia can explain it best.

“The Pink lake [is] a salt lake with a red or pink hue due to the presence of the carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina, a source of ß-carotene, a food-colouring agent and source of vitamin A. The lagoon contains the world’s largest microalgae production plant, a 250-hectare (620-acre) series of artificial ponds used to farm Dunaliella salina. (a type of halophile green micro-algae especially found in sea salt fields…..used in cosmetics and dietary supplements).” Source: Wikipedia

 

Kalbarri Coastal Cliffs

Island Rock, Kalbarri National Park

We left Tatui at anchor in the picturesque estuary of Kalbarri and toured the coastal cliffs of Kalbarri National park visiting the main cliff sights of Red Bluff, Pot Alley, Eagle Gorge, Shellhouse and Grandstand, Island Rock and Natural Bridge. With the clear blue sky and wind we were able to experience the power of the waves on these cliffs that created the coastal formations.

Natural Bridge, Kalbarri National park

 

Inland river gorges of the Murchison River

The following day we headed inland to visit the inland river gorges of the Murchison River. Here we visited the main river gorge stops of Nature’s Window, The Loop, Z Bend, Hawks Head and Ross Graham Lookout. The gorges are spectacular with plenty of opportunities for some good photographs and a rare one of us both together on this trip courtesy of a lady walking by who offered to take the photo for us.