The Mighty Clarence River
05 October 2017
The Mighty Clarence River 6/10/2018
“One of the dominant features of the Clarence Valley region is the mighty Clarence River, a river of adventure. With 100 charted islands it is the second largest river in Australia with over 400km of pristine water from source to sea (Clarence sailing & cruising guide)”.
After a well rested night anchored in Iluka Bay/Clarence River, a plan was made. It was decided to motor up the river to Grafton and then on returning down the river we would stop off and anchor so as to explore the different townships along the way.
Our trip up to Grafton took a couple of days, hay, you can do it in a day but we were in no hurry so took our time. From Iluka we motored up to Harwood where we had booked the required lifting of the Harwood Bridge for us to go under as Kestrel’s height is 14m. The Harwood Bridge clearance above mean high water springs is 8.5m closed and 36.5m open. Booking requires 24hrs notice, we were lucking another yacht had booked the opening so this worked out good for us. We also had two cable ferry crossings to navigate and two overhead power cables to clear. This was all done with great precision by Captain Gerd.
Continuing upstream we first anchored at Brushgrove. On waking in the morning it was most spectacular as we were surrounded by fog. On clearing slowly, I got some great pictures (check out gallery). From here we motored up to Ulmarra, in which we docked on the pontoon and spent a night here. We met some friends Rick & Kate and had lunch at the pub. Great spot as it edged on the river bank of the Clarence.
After our night in Ulmarra we motored up to Grafton, this is as far upstream as we can go as the Grafton Bridge doesn’t lift. We spent several days here exploring the township, topping up our supplies of fresh produce, collecting mail and our usual visit to the local laundromat. We had a night on land with Rick and Kate, thank you both for your hospitality. From here we motored downstream to Ulmarra and spent a couple of night anchored and explored the small township with its galleries, antique, brick-a-brack shops, cafes and local pub. It has the best second hand book shop I’ve ever seen. If you’re a book lover, this is a must see. I’m not a book lover, but I was impressed.
From Ulmarra we motored to Maclean spending several nights anchored here, known as the Scottish township with 200 tartan decorated power poles. Once on land exploring we mastered to hill climb to the lookout. Good workout with the reward of lovely views.
Motoring further downstream we continued to Iluka. While anchored in Iluka Bay we explored onshore and enjoyed walking the World Heritage listed Rainforest Walking Track to Iluka Bluff lookout, more photos. We decided not to anchor in Yamba and to remain anchored in Iluka Bay, to visit Yamba it was just a short dinghy trip across the channel. This we did a couple of times, exploring the township and taking full advantage of both The Historical Hill walk & Flat walk. We had breakfast at the local Yamba markets and later on the same day we attended The Food Festival, which just happened to be at lunch time, so Flamen Kuchen (French/German cheese & onion pizza) & beer for lunch it was. I must say nowhere as good as the one we had in Germany as it was made to suit the aussie palate.
We have very much enjoyed our time on The Mighty Clarence River and the tranquillity it offers with many great photo opportunities to capture. We didn’t sail any of the river due to a certain path needing to be adhered to as there were many shallow parts in the river, and we would have been tacking every five minutes, which is no fun. The Clarence Valley Council has done a great job of making the river user friendly for boaties. Along the way most if not all small townships had public pontoons, allowing 24hrs stop over, some of which have power and water available. I made great use of our inflatable kayak on the river. On lifting anchor from Iluka we are heading to Sydney with several stop off points planned along the way, with our first anchorage being Coffs harbour.
Gold Coast to Clarence River
10 September 2017
My medical appointments seemed to go on an on an on. After my physio appointment pain was still very much present in my neck, so I had an MRI, which showed disc protrusion C5/6. So then I required several visits with the chiropractor, who was successful in realigning my body, resulting in resolving my neck pain. Yay. So with this resolved we started making plans to continue cursing south.
Before leaving South Stradbroke we had a lovely visit from my cousin Jo, who I hadn't seen for years. Was so great to see her, not to mention cranking the bubbles open at 11 am and having a lovely lunch, kindly cooked by Gerd, Thai pork & rice followed by cheese cake.
After 6 weeks anchored in Gold Coast waters we lifted anchor on 5th sept. Our exit out of the Gold Coast seaway was uneventful. We had an OK passage to Byron Bay, spotting several pods of whales along the way. Waters were calm, but we had swells 1-1.5m. I had prepared my body 2 days prior to lifting anchor by taking stugeron in prep for motion sickness. I was so pleased I had as the swells weren't nice, however stugeron made them bearable and I wasn't sick. Yay.
The anchorage at Byron Bay is ocean anchorage, hence it was a horrible one. We had done our homework on this anchorage and knew we could be in for a shitty night, the only other option was to do an overnighter, which we opted not too. Come 5am we were pleased to be under passage once again, arriving at Clarence Heads at the right time for the Yamba bar crossing, forth hour of the rising tide. Once again the bar crossing was uneventful, yay. We then motored into Iluka bay. We spent 1 night here, after the previous shitty night we were in bed by 7pm doing catch up. On waking the following morning well rested we were ready to explore the Clarence River.
Burnett Heads to South Stradbroke Island/Gold coast
17 August 2017 | South Stradbroke
Burnett Heads to South Stradbroke Island/Gold coast
We lifted anchor at 3 am on 4th July and set off to Fraser Island. We had variable winds 5-10 knots, hence we motor sailed all the way. Arriving at Platypus Bay/Fraser Island 1300hrs. We had our first sightings of humpbacks whale migrating north. Was great to see them breaching, bloody hard to take photos due to yacht movement tho. I gave up after many attempts and just enjoyed the moment. I started on my new motion sickness tablets, stugeron, so far so good.
We had 4 different anchorages along Fraser Island, enjoying the rainbow colours of the sand, making for great photos. We are noticing the cooler weather, with the winter clothes coming out of the lockers, and the billy getting boiled to add to our shower water. We are yet to experience a winter onboard Kestrel. My hot water bottle has been put to use. . We didn’t have much luck with fishing, catching a Ginner & Toad fish, both uneatable.
Lifting anchor from Pelican Bay/Fraser Island we did had our first bar crossing, Wide Bay Bar, this crossing all went to plan and we had an uneventful crossing, yay. We then did an overnight passage to Moreton Island, 118 nm/24 hrs, taking 4 hourly shifts at the helm. Once again we motored sailed, winds 5-10 knots. During my shift on the helm I had a bit of traffic and markers to identify and avoid. Identifying lights at night time sure as hell keeps one alert, I was rather pleased when my shift ended that night, as rather stressful. However all ended well. We stayed several nights at Moreton Island before lifting anchor and motor sailed to South Stradbroke Island where we are anchored at present.
We are anchored by Currigee camping ground. Great spot. Excellent holding ground for anchoring. We are only a short dinghy ride across the channel to Runaway bay shopping centre. This would have to be the most welcoming shopping centre for yacht and tender users we have ever come across. They have a pontoon in which ones dinghy can be locked to so we can go about our shopping without the worry of security of the dinghy. There is a laundromat 20min walk from shopping centre which we use. The camping ground on Stradbroke allows live on-board anchored by them to use their shower facilities, and I tell you they are the best hot showers I’ve come across. Good fishing here. The locals say best spot in the Goldcoast. One has the option of fishing in quite waters of the estuary or walking across Stradbroke to ocean beach for some surf casting. Both places of which we have caught bream & whiting. Gerd use successful with catching squid one morning off the bow, much to his delight.
Our anchorage here is for longer than anticipated. However the good thing about cursing at present we have no time restrictions. I have needed a week and half of physio on my shoulder and we have had some urgent applications that needed attending to. So being anchored here meant we had good use of library for printing, GP and other medical services.
We have explored the water channels here in the dinghy and attended the cultural festival at Southport and the Farmer markets in Surfers paradise. Also caught up with some old work contacts, was great seeing you both Helen & David. Cousin Nicki made a special visit from Brisbane to see us, Thanks Nicki was so great to see you and catch up with all the family news. Best of all we had a VIP guest on-board, Mum, all the way from NZ. She just happened to be in the area on a golf tournament, was great to show her our home on the water.
Don't forget to check out our photos posted in the Gallery.
03 July 2017 | Bundaberg
As I sit here in the cabin and type, we are anchored in The Burnett River, opposite Bundaberg rum distillery. We have been anchored here since 21 June.
Just a quick recap, after our Germany holiday, I went to Derby and had a 3 month working stint in the Dialysis Unit. Gerd stayed upon Kestrel, berthed in Bundaberg Marina, where he stayed until 2nd May. On departing from the Marina he motored up the Burnett River to Bundaberg Slipway where Kestrel was hoisted out onto the dry stand. During this time Kestrel got below the water line sand blasted and repainted, also a new paint job above the water line. We used cork chips for an anti-slip on the deck areas then painted over these. The wheel house roof also got a new paint job. Gerd also replaced our broken head pump, fixed a diesel leak and painted inside the diesel day tank. It all sounds such easy tasks typing it, however, trust me it was not the case, one said good-bye to $10,000 overnight. I guess that was the reason I was away working.
After my 3 month contract in Derby, I returned to Bundaberg to find Kestrel looking a million dollars after all Gerd's hard work. I was only back for 1 week when a much needed trip to NZ was required to visit our first Grandson, Cole James Graham, proud parents Scott and Laura. We spent 5 weeks back home visiting family and friends. This time went really quick and before we knew it we were returning to Kestrel on the dry stand in Bundy.
On returning to Kestrel, we were heartbroken to discover Kestrel covered in bird shit as hundreds of lorikeets had taken to roosting in the evening in the gum trees she was parked under while we were away. 30 mins into returning, a water blaster was borrowed and the cleaning job begun. So much for Kestrel looking a million dollars. Washing down the boat became a morning chore for myself, despite setting up a sprinkler system on the main mast and leaving the anchor light on overnight, the lorikeets refused to move on. Oh well that's life.
So after one coat of primer and 2 coats of anti-foul on below the water line, Kestrel was all set to go back in the water. On 21 June we were back in the water and anchored in Burnett River. We didn't have any luck with fishing, however we were successful with crabbing and very much enjoyed crap for dinner one evening.
Tomorrow 3 July, we plan to lift anchor and motor to the river mouth and anchor overnight, ready for departure Tuesday morning to Fraser Island. The weather predicted for Tuesday is Westerlies 10-15 knots, with Wed & Thurs much the same. I have my new motion tablets "Stugeron" all ready to go, bring it on :)
16 February 2017
Much needed holiday
It was decided we needed a holiday and booked tickets to Germany to have Christmas with Gerds mum, Heidi. Our trip back to Germany was for 5 weeks. It was a long trip there, not arriving to Heidi’s, in Bietigheim-Bissingen until 48 hrs after leaving Bundaberg. We had a 4 hour drive to Brisbane airport with a 4 hour check in wait, then 3x7 hour flights, with no lengthy transfer time in-between flights, then a 2 hour train trip to Bietigheim-Bissingen. Heidi was not aware we were arriving, so a knock on her door at 1030pm was quite a surprise, to say the least.
It was the start of winter so we had hopes for a white Christmas. This we didn’t get however we did get a white new year’s making the surroundings beautiful. Coming from temperatures of 36-40 degrees we were now experiencing -12 degrees. We embraced this climate change, enjoying wearing a winter wardrobe, eating winter foods and drinking Gluhwein (mulled wine).
On arriving the Christmas markets were in full swing. These were great to go to. The effort the stall holders went to to decorate their stalls to set the scene and create the Christmas atmosphere was amazing. The highlight for us was the food stalls and Gluhwein. With many snacks/meals had of traditional German foods, not to mention the Gluhwein which when the weather is really cold one really appreciates.
Not only did we embraced the weather, we 200% embraced the bakery’s; bread, buns, sweet pastries, pretzels, these are all to die for, not to mention the beer & wine, and sausages, yum yum yum, hence our waist circumference grew a little.
We had several visits to the thermal saunas. These were just magnificent. Once again really appreciated in the cold weather/snow. Great for detoxing after Christmas and New Year indulgences. In fact after bakery, beer & wine indulgencies. In other words our daily indulgencies.
We made good use of the train system, however the train stations were bloody cold to stand around in waiting for ones train.
The last few days of our trip we spent in Biebergemuend-lanzingen, near Frankfurt with friends Fuch & Mel and their 8 husky dogs. Beautiful dogs who each roam the house like it’s there kingdom, well I guess it is their kingdom.
From Frankfurt we flew home to Bundaberg to find Kestrel still safely afloat in the Marina. On inspection she had held up well being locked up for 5 weeks.
So one might ask where to from here………….. It was decided I would have a 3 month working stint to top up our travel kitty, so as I write this blog I am in Derby, WA working in Derby Renal Unit for 3 months. On finishing this contract we have a trip booked to NZ to meet our first grandchild which is due to Scott & Laura any day now. OMG so exciting, can’t wait.
After our NZ trip we plan to set sail again and continue cursing south down the east coast of Australia.
Port Bundaberg Marina
04 February 2017
Port Bundaberg Marina.
On arriving to Port Bundaberg Marina, on request, we were greeted by 2 staff members to help us catch our lines and guild us into our berth. This was greatly appreciated as on arrival we were both rather tired & exhausted (read previous blog).
The first 4 days were spent recovering, not only physically but mentally as our dream felt like it had come crashing down. With the last two passages feeling like a journey to hell. I guess you have to take the good with the bad.
Our first impressions of the Marina have been all good. The staff are friendly and helpful. The prices they charge are ok and we are paying for and have the berth size required for Kestrel, not like the previous Marina, we were charged for a 13 metre berth, however placed in only a 10 metre berth.
The Marina has a lovely social area ‘cruisers cove’, which has loungers, TV, fridge, BBQ, notice board and free Wi-Fi. The grounds are kept lovely (see pictures). They offer a daily courtesy ride to town and Sunday morning courtesy ride to the farmers markets. Both of which we have taken advantage of as we do not have a vehicle.
We have caught up with friends Olga & Pete as they are living in Coral Cove, not far away. Was great to see them both again after many years.
The area is known as the 'Southern Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. South of Bundaberg is Fraser Island. We are yet to explore these waters.
After 1 week in the Marina we had a trip to town on the courtesy bus. What we thought was a trip to town to pick up a few bits and pieces, resulted in the purchase of return tickets to Germany to have Christmas with Heidi, Gerds mum.
Yay, we are off on holiday for 5 weeks, leaving kestrel berthed safely in the Marina. This also giving us time to re-visit/ re-think/ recover and re-dream our sailing plans.