Whitsunday Islands – Brampton, Goldsmith. Thomas, Shaw, Lindeman, Whitsunday, Hook, Border
15 September 2011
Photo: Whale tail, diving to go deep.
First day of September and first official day of spring, we left Mackay and sailed 26nm wing on wing to Brampton Island. Brampton is heavily wooded with many walking tracks and a resort that has only recently closed down. We went ashore the following morning for a walk along the foreshore, met the local kangaroos, one with a joey who on seeing us was very keen on getting back into mothers pouch. After the walk we decided to move onto Goldsmith Island which offered better protection for the upcoming 25 – 30 knots of wind predicted for the weekend. We managed to wing on wing sail the 14 nm to Goldsmith and on the way saw 2 whales, one which was playful and breaching; yet again we missed the breach with the camera.
Goldsmith was a great place to wait out the SE winds that arrived over the weekend. As we sat happily in the bay, we watched a float plane take off and land, there are a couple of holiday homes on an island in the bay, went for walks on the sandy beaches and watched whales playing in the distance. The wind finally eased so on Tuesday 6th September we sailed 9nm to Thomas Island for a day stop. Thomas is a picturesque island where, when there is no breeze in the bay, snorkeling is good. We did get ashore for a walk on 2 of the beaches and the guys collected rock oysters, those that weren’t eaten fresh were to be consumed at afternoon drinks. After lunch we sailed a further 3nm to Shaw Island, a more secure, less swell affected bay and therefore better for overnight anchoring.
We enjoyed 2 very peaceful nights at Shaw Island and went for walks along the beaches and across to the ocean side of the island. The water was also clear and warm enough for swimming. This part of the Whitsunday Islands is more popular than the southern islands and is also accessible to the many charter boats in the area; therefore we are now seeing more boats than we have for a while. Thursday morning we left Shaw at 08:30 and sailed 4nm to nearby Boat Port Bay, Lindeman Island and went ashore with Gordon and Maree spending the next 4 hours walking the various tracks on Lindeman to Coconut Beach, the Lagoon, Mt Oldfield summit and Gap beach. Returning to the dinghy the tide had gone out a looooong way and the 4 of us carried the dinghy back to the water in stages, we then left, returning to Shaw Island for the night.
The following morning we left early with no wind, clear blue sunny skies and hardly a ripple on the water and headed to Whitehaven Beach. Gordon and Maree, Waimea, were approx. half a mile in front of us when we saw a whale surface off their stern, Brian grabbed the camera and headed up to the foredeck as the whale was heading towards us. It turned out to be a mother and calf so there was probably no possibility of a breach, but they came within 15 – 20 m of us and we managed to get some good photos of the tail as she dived deep. We anchored at the world renowned Whitehaven Beach for lunch, a walk and a swim. The beach was full of activity with seaplanes landing and taking off, charter boats full of guests, even a wedding with the bride arriving in a helicopter complete with bridal gown. Later in the afternoon with Whitehaven known for a swell, we moved to Makona Inlet on Hook Island for the night.
About 03:15am the wind increased and was blowing into the anchorage, a couple of charter boats dragged on their anchors and came adrift both narrowly missing us as they went past. We spent the rest of the night on anchor watch, not because of our anchor which was firmly on the botton but because of the charter boats, one of which decided to do circles around us in the dark and when we told him to move away he informed us he had lost his anchor!!! We are not sure what he expected us to do about it. At daybreak and after a very early breakfast, we left Makona and went across to Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island, very pleasant after Makona. The following morning, Sunday 11th, we went ashore at 10:00 and walked to the top of Whitsunday Peak, a 4 hour round trip up a boulder staircase, through bush following the path of a dried stream. The view from the top was worth the walk, we could see most of the Whitsunday Islands, a dark green against the azure blue of the water.
Monday morning we left early and motored to Cataran Bay, Border Island. Cataran Bay has shelving reef protected by a marine reserve, therefore we anchored outside the reef protection buoys. We did a short walk ashore to the top of the saddle, then a snorkel on the reef before lunch. The reef had many types of soft and hard coral with an abundance of all types of fish, including big parrot fish, coral trout and ‘nemo’s’. We left Border early afternoon and went to Makona for the night with the intention of spending Tuesday there, unfortunately the following morning the wind increased with too much south to make Makona comfortable, so we went back to Cid Harbour.
We spent a lazy day at Cid Harbour, reading, playing cards, backgammon, having afternoon drinks and being entertained by the antics of boats around us. The following day we did the short bush walk over the ridge to Dugong inlet, another sandy beach. The next day it was off to Airlie Beach, Able Point marina, for one night to restock and do laundry. It was the best reaching sail in 15 – 25 knot east to south easterlies we have had for a while, even had to put a reef in the main. After Airlie we plan to do the more northern islands in the Whitsunday group before heading for Townsville at the end of September.