After our five days of socialising at Dunk it was time to depart. Some boats went north, we went south. We set sail (ha! … lots of motoring) for the Palm Islands with Chances, Arkaydes and Rene.
We weren’t quite sure how far north we were going to get this year. Starting at the Gold Coast (where our boat was stored) rather than Paynesville meant we could get further north if we wanted to as we had a ‘headstart’. With no firm decision we decided early on it would work itself out. Cairns, Port Douglas and Lizard Island were options but they are a long way and this means they are a long way back. With such strong SE trade winds this year it became clearer that there could be a lot of bashing in to strong headwinds going south so Dunk Island was far enough.
The crocs are also a common topic of conversation up here and the further north you venture, the more concerned you have to be. It really is all sensible stuff though. While we haven’t sighted any crocs around Hinchinbrook, Orpheus and Dunk Islands, we are sure they have sighted us. Lots of stories from the locals and plenty of erected warning signs. One of our crab pots certainly took a beating when we anchored in Macushla Cove, Hinchinbrook Island. The guys got out of that creek pretty quickly. Think it liked the mac-tuna I’d caught for them. We stopped at the pretty Garden Island for a night and made sure it was an early bbq dinner on shore that night (next to a recently erected Achtung! warning sign). The big oysters collected by the guys and the pretty sandy bay made Garden Island a lovely anchorage though.
There was definitely no swimming off the back of the boat in these places. Fortunately we had some cooler cloudy days.
During the last few weeks we have seen so much whale activity. One day we counted five different whale sightings, including a rather large one only 20-30 metres off our stern. I looked up from my phone and nearly jumped out of my skin! Someone asked if I’d taken a photo … no! We have had to dodge whales a few times. Sometimes they seem to deliberately play games … left, right, left, where are you?! Generally it’s easy to keep your distance. Many are just lazing around, some feeding their young (we have been told the photo I took of the whale with its tail in the air was actually feeding her calf) but not so many playful ones lately. Although, I did get some great breaching photos of a distant whale with my new sooper-dooper zoom off Palm Island.
We stopped at Orpheus and Fantome Islands on the way back to Townsville. Some great snorkelling in lots of plate coral at a spot that Gary and Annie from Chances found earlier in their trip (we have named it Chances Reef!) and a visit to Yanks Jetty where the tropical fish are obviously used to being fed. We ‘dined out’ at Yanks Jetty on freshly caught prawns that we had bought straight off the prawn trawler that morning – $50 for 5 kilos! We finished a great day on Chances with Rene and Arkaydes, Annie’s pizzas and Neville’s apple crumble!
Some of my underwater pics at Chances Reef …
We are now back in the Breakwater Marina in Townsville … for a few days of washing, shopping, jobs, walking and socialising (again). And of course another BCF visit. Lots of boats we know here!
Magnetic Island exploring is next.