27 July 2021 | Brammo Bay, Dunk Island, QLD, Australia
20 July 2021 | Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, QLD, Australia
14 July 2021 | Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, QLD, Australia
09 July 2021 | Keppel Bay Marina, Yeppoon Harbour, QLD, Australia
08 July 2021 | Keppel Bay Marina, Yeppoon Harbour, QLD, Australia
25 June 2021 | Ferns Hideaway Resort, Byfield, (Tregoning at KBM) QLD, Australia
22 June 2021 | Leeke’s Beach, Great Keppel Island, QLD, Australia
18 June 2021 | Keppel Bay Marina, Yeppoon Harbour, QLD, Australia
18 June 2021 | Long Beach, Great Keppel Island, QLD, Australia
16 June 2021 | Mast Head Island, Capricorn Bunker Group, GBR, QLD, Australia
13 June 2021 | Fitzroy Reef Lagoon, Capricorn Bunker Group, GBR, QLD, Australia
11 June 2021 | Lady Musgrave lagoon, Capricorn Bunker Group, GBR, QLD, Australia
30 May 2021 | Burnett River, Port Bundaberg, QLD, Australia
23 May 2021 | Off Arch Cliff on Fraser Island, Platypus Bay, QLD, Australi
20 May 2021 | Off Fraser Island near Woralie Creek, Platypus Bay, QLD, Australia
18 May 2021 | Kingfisher Resort, Great Sandy Strait, QLD, Australia
16 May 2021 | North side of Turkey Island, Great Sandy Strait, QLD, Australia
15 May 2021 | Garry's Anchorage, Great Stand Strait, QLD, Australia
11 May 2021 | Off Norman Point, Tin Can Bay, QLD, Australia
10 May 2021 | Pelican Bay, Tin Can Inlet, QLD, Australia

Update from Dunk Island

27 July 2021 | Brammo Bay, Dunk Island, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Mountains of Hinchinbrook Island seen from Gayundah Creek
We have plenty of photos and details to add in due course, but we are about to head out for a week on the GBR, so a brief update seemed appropriate while we still have internet coverage.

After a final hike on Magnetic Island with Anita and Mike, we left Horseshoe Bay on Thursday (22nd July) and sailed out to Lodestone Reef, a new site for us. We were the only boat there so were able to use the public mooring and we had a couple of snorkels close to Tregoning. The first was on several deep bommies and included a few fish species that were new to us (always a satisfying bonus). The second was on the edge of the shallow part of the reef, which had some spectacular corals and huge populations of small reef fish. We also caught a glimpse of a huge fish under a ledge...probably a Malabar grouper, a species that can grow up to 2.3 m or 7.5 feet, and this one had to be not far off that size.

The downside of the mooring was that it was on the north side of the reef so when the wind picked-up from the north it became too bouncy to sleep soundly. We went north to see if we could anchor at John Brewer Reef since both public moorings there were occupied. Sadly, nothing looked tenable to us so, knowing that the wind was only going to increase, we left the reef and headed inshore.

A divinely calm night at Juno Bay, between Fantome and Orpheus Island, restored our spirits, and the next day we motored north into the Hinchinbrook Channel. We had only sailed past before at a distance from the ocean side of Hinchinbrook Island, so we had not fully appreciated the height and beauty of the ridge of mountains that form the spine of this Island. The highest peak, Mount Bowen is 1,121 m (3,678 feet) and loomed over the head of Gayundah Creek, where we anchored in solitude for the night. Surrounded by mangroves, we saw no crocodiles but had a good sighting of a species of bird that was new to us, the great-billed heron.

The following day we motored through the rest of the wide Hinchinbrook Channel, with the Cardwell Range of mountains (not quite as high as those on the Island) providing an impressive backdrop on the mainland side. Once in Rockingham Bay, we had a lovely sail north to Dunk Island, where we are anchored in Brammo Bay.

We have now caught-up with Lynne and Andrew on SV Mischief and the crew on SV Symphony. Anita and Mike (Curried Oats) joined us today, and on Wednesday we are heading back out to the GBR starting with Beaver and Taylor Reefs. There is supposed to be about a week of calm weather, so the plan is to reef-hop north. By 4th August, the wind is predicted to be honking (a technical term), so we will aim to be tucked in the Trinity River or in a marina in Cairns by then. With our friends in Sydney entering their 5th week of lockdown due to the spiraling outbreak of the delta variant of Covid-19, we are especially thankful to be in northern Queensland, and able to spend so much time away from the cities. It will be interesting to see if Cairns can stay Covid-free while we are there...

A busy week at Magnetic Island

20 July 2021 | Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: The beach at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
When we left Keppel Bay Marina around 8:30 am on Saturday (10th July), we were optimistic that the winds would stay southeasterly and sufficient strong to carry us all the way to Magnetic Island. By mid-afternoon our confidence was starting to flag and the sails were beginning to flog with insufficient wind to keep them inflated as Tregoning rolled on the swell. Bother! So, we furled the jib and dropped the mainsail and started the motor, which was not an encouraging beginning to the passage. However, by 10 pm the wind had returned and we never looked back, sailing happily past Shoalwater Bay in the dark.

During the afternoon, we had a brief chat with Lynne and Andrew (SV Mischief) who were in Townsville. They were planning to return to Flinders Reef (which they had enjoyed on their Rally) with two other boats to capitalize on the predicted calm weather later in the week. They were expecting to leave Magnetic Island on the very day we were scheduled to arrive there. So, did we want to take a direct course to Flinders and meet them there? This was going to depend on our progress, tiredness, and conditions outside the Great Barrier Reef.

During Sunday we saw the spouts and tails of our first whales of the winter migratory season which was exciting. It also makes sailing at night a little tenser. We had intended to go inside (west of) the Whitsunday Islands as this was a slightly shorter route that would be sheltered from the swell. After having to hand-steer to stay downwind just enough to get past Wigton Island, however, we decided to stay outside the Whitsundays, where fewer gybes would be required to dodge islands during the night.

Some of the many islands to be avoided in the southern Whitsundays

At 4 am on Monday, I was startled by a very loud groaning right alongside Tregoning. I knew it was not a boat noise so I concluded that it had to be whale, but it was too dark to see. I heard the sound twice more at increasing distances behind us, so we probably came very close to a sleeping whale.

Later that day, we gybed to cut west on the south side of Hook Reef, then back and forth to stay out of the busy shipping lane. Looking at the forecasts for 20 knot winds, we decided that it was a bit windy for going outside the GBR to get to Flinders Reef. Also, we would be disappointed if we arrived there to find that Lynne and Andrew had decided not to go, plus we wanted to see Anita and Mike on SV Curried Oats before they moved on. So, we let Mischief know that we were still heading to Magnetic Island.

Passing close to one of the many ships anchored off Mackay

We passed Cape Bowling Green during the third night, and after gybing at the 2 am change in watch, we were able to hold that course all the way to Magnetic Island. Thus, we sailed into Horseshoe Bay at noon without having to make another gybe. We found about 50 boats anchored in the large bay including SV Mischief with the crippled Lynne (badly sprained ankle) and Andrew, waving and calling out greetings. They had decided that her ankle was not fit for the passage to Flinders and she probably could not snorkel much without hurting it further. We anchored just in front of them, beside Curried Oats. Anita and Mike soon swung by in their dinghy as they returned from shore. After catching-up, they left us to finish our initial clear-up, lunch, nap, and take much-needed showers. Overall, we were very pleased with the passage and lucky with the wind.

After a GOOD night's sleep, we watched Mischief and some other boats leave to visit the inner reefs during the calm weather. It was very tempting to go with them, but we needed to get a few things done while we had good access to the internet. Also, we really like Magnetic Island and hated to dash away immediately. So, to get the season's first dose of the island, after we rinsed the salt water off Tregoning's stainless steel, Bimini windows, and cove-stripe, we went ashore to meet Anita and Mike for a lovely lunch at The Early Bird Café.

Lunch with Anita, Mike, and Randall

We then all took a slow bird-watching walk around the village, even though midday is not the ideal time for seeing birds. We identified 25 species and found the short Butterfly Track through some woods which, surprisingly, none of us had visited before. Here, between June and September, many blue tiger, purple crow, and common crow butterflies rest in trees for their winter diapause.

Left: Blue tiger and common crow butterflies - Right: purple crow butterflies

On leaving the Butterfly Track, we noticed a koala sleeping in a tree overhanging Heath Street. We wandered across the main road to visit the Horseshoe Bay Lagoon Conservation Park, and in both areas we saw several wallabies feeding. These were probably agile wallabies which are larger than the Island's allied rock wallabies (which also live in rockier areas) but not as large as the common wallaroos which also occur on the island. Wait a minute...wallaroos? This is yet another type of jumparoo, between kangaroo and wallaby in size and they are nocturnal, so maybe this is why we have not heard of them before. We may need to see them all together in an identity parade (police lineup) in order of diminishing size to have any hope of learning which jumparoo is which...that would be a challenge to organize.

A black-necked stork or jabiru (to 115 cm or 45 inches tall)

In the Park's lagoon we found several magpie geese, Pacific black ducks, and a single black-necked stork or jabiru. We suspect that the latter bird was the same individual that we saw there last year. Rather disturbingly, the wetland to the west of the pond was covered with the green aquatic fern, giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta). A native of southeastern Brazil, this noxious weed has become invasive in many parts of the world, and it was disappointing to see it here. We will have to see if Hillary can help us find out who locally might need to know about this infestation.

A dense layer of giant salvinia floating on the Horseshoe Bay wetland

Even more curious was what Anita noticed on a couple of dead trees. There were large holes in the bark in various stages of production, with partly cut discs of bark up high, and shed discs on the ground below.

A dead tree with discs of bark missing (left) or partially removed (upper right)

In addition to the neat removal of the discs of bark, there appeared to be a hole in the middle of the revealed wood and in some of these there appeared to be filaments of wood that were "poking out" or "stuffed in".

Yellow arrows point to bark discs that have fallen at the base of the tree and one of the bark-striped areas with fibers stuffed in the central hole

My immediate reaction was that this was a trick/art perpetrated by humans. But they would have had to get up high and in very awkward positions to access some of the discs. Our next guess was some sort of borer insect. I posted pictures on iNaturalist and so far only one person has commented:

"I too was amazed to see this around Trinity bch. Cairns usually on Albizia procera trees until I sighted a Cockatoo pulling out the bark of a partly made circle and chewing on it - perhaps has a liking to its taste. Don't know if insects started the job or cockatoos all along!"

I do not think that it would be appropriate to dig around in the holes given that these are in a Conservation Area, so any other suggestions would be gratefully received

One of the tasks that we completed while we have good cellphone/internet access in Horseshoe Bay, was applying for our second Covid Visas. Our current ones expire at the end of July, so now that is accomplished we will not be tied to places with good coverage for the rest of the month. Medical facilities in Indonesia are in a terrible state with a massive outbreak of Covid-19, so even though we are now vaccinated, it would be dangerous and inappropriate for us to go there until the situation vastly improves, and that is unlikely to occur before the cyclone season starts in November.

In fact, Australia is having a significant outbreak of the Covid-19 delta variant, with rapidly increasing case numbers in Sydney and Melbourne, and a few cases in Brisbane. Many areas have gone into multi-week lockdowns and state borders are closing. For example, only people with exemptions can get into Queensland from NSW, and they have to stay in hotel quarantine for two weeks at their own expense. Yachts trying to cross the border have been turned back and subject to massive fines. The national government is having problems both in acquiring enough doses of the vaccine, and in convincing enough people of the need to get vaccinated.

Before we left Keppel Bay, we heard that Magnetic Island was in a three-day lockdown while contact-tracing and testing was undertaken to make sure that there had been no spread from an infected person who had recently visited the Island. That lockdown had ended, but while we were at sea, a statewide requirements for mask-wearing in public was imposed. There is also a statewide requirement to use the QLD contact-tracing app when entering almost any business, shop, restaurant, etc.

The mask-wearing requirement was relaxed on Friday morning, just in time for us to catch the bus across the Island to Nelly Bay, where we caught the ferry for the 20-minute passage to Townsville. We were joined on this expedition by Anita and Mike who had only driven through Townsville before. Randall had never been, and I had no recollection of my brief visit in 1982, so we were all open to a day of discovery.

Castle Hill - Cootharinga looms over Townsville as seen from the ferry

Of several Aboriginal groups that originally inhabited the Townsville region, the Wulgurukaba claim to be the traditional owners of the Townsville city area, at the mouth of the Ross River. Settlers arrived in the mid-1800s and declared the town a municipality in 1866. It was named after Robert Towns, otherwise, as Randall asked, wouldn't towns-ville be rather redundant? He visited only once for three days but provided ongoing financial assistance to the new settlement. The town initially developed around livestock, sugar, and cotton production. It is the largest Australian city north of the Sunshine Coast (Mooloolaba area), with a population of more than 180,000 (about 30,000 more than Cairns).

Townsville's Customs House, completed in 1902 in the Federation Free Style

The area is in the dry tropics with a tropical savannah climate, significantly drier than the rest of the eastern coastal tropics of Queensland. This is because of the surrounding topography, with mountain ranges circling around the west side of the city. However, just 50 nm further north, coastal rains are shed on the mountainous Hinchinbrook Island which receives some of Australia's highest rainfalls.

Townsville was a major base for Australian and American forces in World War II. At least 70,000 servicemen and women were based there or passed through the town, which at that time had a population of around 30,000, of which 5-7,000 evacuated elsewhere. Many ships were anchored in Cleveland Bay between Cleveland Headland, Magnetic Island, and the mainland around Townsville. In May 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea was fought northeast and east of Townsville in which Allied naval and air forces repelled a Japanese invasion force that was heading for the key Allied base in Port Moresby, New Guinea. A few months later, Japanese flying boats bombed Townsville but caused little damage. The town remains an important military base and during our stay at Magnetic Island, a large joint Australian and American exercise was being undertaken just north of us, with Chinese spy ships reported to be just outside Australian territorial waters.

Sunset seen from Horseshoe Bay with the USS Alan Shepard anchored in the distance

The pink granite monolith of Cootharinga, was named Castle Hill in 1864, apparently after a similar hill in Dublin or on the Isle of Man. The Hill dominates the city and is a well-loved feature of the landscape of North Queensland. There is a persistent urban myth that Americans troops posted to Townsville during WWII offered to demolish the Hill to build a causeway over to Magnetic Island.

Castle Hill's official height is 286 m (938 feet), a few meters shy of being classed in Australia as a mountain. In 1980, a high school class as a fundraising effort built a 3-m tall wooden pyramid on the top of the Hill which they filled with soil, carried up by the students in buckets. It was dismantled the next day. The group was given credit for making the hill into Castle Mountain for a day, but a note in the local paper perhaps rather diminished their accomplishment:

"The Department of Mapping and Survey yesterday put the height of Castle Hill at 275.8 metres - 18.9 metres short of the height conventionally accepted as "mountain" status."
"The Oxford Dictionary puts this height [mountain status] at 304.8 metres, or 1,000 feet
." Actually, the distinction of a mountain from a hill is arbitrary. For example, in the UK a hill has to rise 2,000 feet above the surrounding land to qualify as a mountain. Regardless, the project raised plenty of funds for the school and made a good story.

Having left the ferry terminal and found a place for coffee and other refreshments, Randall ordered a taxi to take us up Castle Hill. John soon arrived and was very willing to act as our tour-guide on the winding road to the top. There we wandered around the summit admiring the spectacular views. In addition to the modern thicket of communication towers, on the east side of the summit are the remains of an observation and communication post that overlooked Cleveland Bay during WWII.

View northeast from the summit of Castle Hill, looking over Townsville with Magnetic Island on the horizon

Turning to the inland view, we quickly realized that most of the city of Townsville is located to the west of Castle Hill. To the southwest is Stuart Mountain with a large army barracks and James Cook University at its base. Other mountains ring the plain in which the city resides. Closer to the base of Castle Hill, we could also see the road-circuit and pits for a big V8-car race that was scheduled for the weekend. Apparently, quite a few fans will watch with binoculars from where we were standing.

Looking southwest from Castle Hill with Stuart Mountain on the skyline just right of center

Once we had thoroughly sated ourselves with the stunning views, we decided to walk down the Hill. There are several footpaths of varying degrees of difficulty and arriving at different points around the base of the Hill. We started down the road (knowing that it was not particularly steep) and cut across one corner on the Erythrina Track.

Castle Hill summit seen from our walk down the road

Once we got back on the road, Randall and I noticed a rather straggly tree with strange shaped leaves. This turned out to be a plant with a bit of an identity-crisis because its common name is bat's wing coral tree. Also known as grey corkwood, Erythrina vespertilio (hence the name of the trail) is a tree native to north and north-east Australia.

The leaves of Erythrina vespertilio certainly do bear a resemblance to a bat's wings

After a delicious lunch at Grandma's, we visited the Queens Gardens. Of the city's three botanical gardens, the Queens Gardens is the formal one. It has a couple of small mazes (not too complicated) but sadly, the central flower beds were between planting.

Castle Hill looms over the Queens Gardens with the pair of small mazes in the foreground

The Gardens had a variety of fig trees, an aviary with native birds (not very well labelled), and a section filled with various types of frangipani (Plumeria spp.). The various species are endemic to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and as far south as Brazil and north as Florida, but are grown ornamentally in all tropical regions. According to Wikipedia: "The genus is named in honor of the seventeenth-century French botanist and Catholic monk Charles Plumier, who traveled to the New World documenting many plant and animal species. The common name "frangipani" comes from a sixteenth-century marquis of the noble family in Italy who claimed to have invented a plumeria-scented perfume, but in reality made a synthetic perfume that was said at the time to resemble the odor of the recently discovered flowers." To adapt the famous quote of Shakespeare's Juliet, "A Plumeria perfume by any other name would smell as sweet".

Trees in the Queens Gardens with impressive roots: white fig (Ficus virens), pandanas, and another fig

We next walked to the waterfront walkway beside The Strand. Between the mowed lawns along The Strand and the sand of the beach is a band of rather weedy-looking vegetation with the occasional tree. While this is probably a good idea in terms of reducing beach erosion, it gave a slightly scruffy appearance to the beach which was unfortunate. Until this point, everything we had seen in Townsville had looked neat and well-maintained.

A python made from painted "found materials" stones, wire, old ropes, plastic, etc. as part of an arts competition along The Strand which was being judged by People's Choice online voting - beyond the mown grass is the rather weedy band at the top of the sandy beach

While Anita and Mike returned to Magnetic Island on the 3:50 pm ferry, Randall and I walked down Flinders Street in the Central Business District (downtown). Here we saw some fine buildings from the late 1800s but on the whole the area was rather dominated by bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, all of which might be popular with off-duty military personnel. Other than a few gentrified alleys, we found the CBD a bit shabby compared to the area around the Queens Gardens and The Strand. Townsville has a bit of a reputation as a rough city at times and the appearance of the CBD was our first hint that this might be the case. Still, it was worth a visit and we got a few fresh veggies at Woolworths before returning for the crowded 4:30 pm ferry and linking bus back to Horseshoe Bay.

Now a thickly painted nightclub, The Bank was built in 1888 as the Australian Joint Stock Bank

After a relatively quiet weekend working on the boat, Randall and I bought day-passes for the buses and spent a day romping around Magnetic Island. This included hiking up to The Forts and back, a walk we did last year with Anita and Mike. As before, the best way to find koalas is to look for people pointing up at a tree.

How to find a koala...

By this method, we saw six healthy looking koalas, including one which climbed down one tree and up into the next one with a haste that was quite surprising. Of course, when you have half a dozen people closely watching, there is probably a big incentive to be swift.

An obliging koala along The Forts Track

We also completed a bird survey on our way to the top of The Forts, the most notable features of which were a multitude of pied currawongs, a group of bee-eaters flying and calling overhead (another species to add to our list of bird-sounds that we now recognize), and a huge wedge-tailed eagle soaring over the summit.

Cape Cleveland seen from between huge granite boulders along The Forts Track

As we remembered, the views from The Forts are fabulous with dry eucalypt forests of various shades of green interspersed with huge pink granite boulders, many of which seem most precariously balanced. During WWII, many of these boulders played important roles in providing camouflage for the observation towers and gun placements that protected Townsville and the fleet of ships anchored in Cleveland Bay.

One of the WWII gun placements on The Forts Track

As we left The Forts area, we noticed thick smoke and flames in the forest across a ravine. Randall checked online to find that this was part of a prescribed burn, so we were not too worried about uncontrolled spread. But as the smoke drifted over The Forts, we were glad that we were finishing our walk and not just starting it. After returning to Horseshoe Bay on the bus, we ate lunch at the beach, then caught the next bus back to Alma Bay, the community of Arcadia.

From there we walked along the beach at Geoffrey Bay to the Gabul Way, a shiny boardwalk over the cliffs that run alongside the road to Nelly Bay. The walkway's name comes from the Dreaming story of a giant carpet python, Gabul, who carved the landscape to create the islands off the local coastal area. Where he came to rest became Magnetic Island, with his head at the Arcadia headland of Bremmer Point.

The Gabul Way, next to the road from Arcadia to Nelly Bay

We frequently peered over the sides of the boardwalk, searching through the rocks and vegetation for signs of the allied rock wallabies that live on the Island. Sadly we did not see any of these diminutive jumparoos, but this was not a great surprise because they are more likely to be grazing in the early morning or evening.

On arriving in Nelly Bay, we walked to the Mitre10 hardware store, a bottle (booze) shop, and small supermarket. We were intending to catch a bus straight back to Horseshoe Bay but we would have to wait for over an hour. Within a few minutes, however, a bus arrived that was going in the opposite direction to Picnic Bay. We jumped aboard to find that the driver was Jim, who had driven all the buses we had taken that day. He explained that he was going home once he dropped us all at the end of the route but, about 45 minutes later, another bus would come to take us all the way back to Horseshoe Bay. Thank goodness for the all-day bus-pass. Although this plan did not make much difference for Randall, who stayed with the shopping on a shady bench playing games on the phone, I enjoyed wandering along the beach, out on the pier, and past the Picnic Bay Surf Lifesaving Club. We certainly got the most out of our A$7.60 tickets and it was fun to revisit some familiar places.

Soon after we arrived back onboard Tregoning, we heard a helicopter approaching the Bay. I looked outside expecting to see a military aircraft but instead watched as a rescue helicopter dropped a wire to a large motor boat anchored in the middle of the Bay. Crew had obviously been dropped-off earlier and this time they were being picked-up with somebody on a stretcher. It was an impressive mission, first hauling-up one crew member with the stretcher, and then picking-up the other two crew members. The helicopter then left, presumably for a hospital in Townsville. It must have been a serious issue to warrant the use of the helicopter rather than a rescue boat, so we wished the patient and their family well.

A stretcher and crew-member being hoisted aboard a rescue helicopter in Horseshoe Bay

We will probably make one more hiking expedition on the Island before we leave on Thursday (22nd July). When we arrived, I was afraid that we would not be able to venture very far because of Randall's sore foot. However, he managed most of the walking in Townsville and all of our latest hikes wearing flip-flops and having no pain at all! This makes us very suspicious that the problem resulted from his new walking shoes. Of course, flip flops are not ideal for many trails but while we are in Cairns he will look for some type of sandal/shoe that feels something like the flip-flops, possibly with the input of a podiatrist.

Also when in Cairns, I will be seeking advice at a camera shop. My formerly trusty Panasonic DC-FZ80 camera has developed a serious issue with the zoom often not working. I am pretty sure that it is an electronic rather than mechanical issue, so I will look online to see if anyone has had the same problem and can suggest a fix that I can manage. But I fear that it is more likely something that will need professional help. When the zoom works everything is fine, but it can be very frustrating when I grab the camera for a picture of a distant creature and the zoom will not function.

For example, this happened when I spotted this tiny (less than 10 cm) seahorse attaching itself to the rope snubber on our anchor chain. Agggggh! As a result the only picture I could take was with a wide-angle (the default setting for the digital zoom) and I wasted time that I could have been watching the seahorse, fussing with the camera.

A seahorse, just visible by enlarging the photo digitally rather than taken using the zoom (which would have produced a much clearer, bigger picture).

Sadly, this picture is probably not good enough to be certain but I assume that this was either a common seahorse or an estuary seahorse. The water was glassy calm and I could just see the tiny dorsal fin and pectoral fins (at the back of the head where a horse would have ears) beating rapidly to provide propulsion and steering, respectively. But this action provides little power and the tidal current soon carried this tiny treasure away, while I stood on Tregoning's bow cursing, like a sailor, at my camera. Luckily, I had sufficient self-restraint to resist throwing the camera in the water...but only just!

Exactly when we will get to Cairns is not certain. We hope to have a few calm days at the end of this week which should allow us to go out to some of the nearby reefs (e.g., Lodestone, John Brewer). When the wind increases again, we would like to visit the channel between the mountainous Hinchinbrook Island and the mainland. The channel is said to be sheltered and very attractive. Although we look forward to catching-up with Lynne and Andrew on SV Mischief, we have no deadline to be in Cairns. Hopefully, there will be more calm days that will allow us to explore more of the reefs along the 157 nm between Townsville and Cairns at our leisure. But, as usual, we shall have to see...

Note: During the next few weeks there may be times when we will be out of cellphone/internet coverage, so please be patient if you are trying to contact us.

Excellent passage!

14 July 2021 | Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Boats anchored in Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
We were much more fortunate this time and have made it to Magnetic Island in 76 hours. The conditions were a little lumpy at times but on the whole it was an excellent passage with the winds being very cooperative so that we could sail all but a few hours.

More details later but it is very good to be back in northern Queensland and reunited with various friends.

Sprint north...second attempt

09 July 2021 | Keppel Bay Marina, Yeppoon Harbour, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: An interesting sunrise over Keppel Bay Marina
After three very productive weeks in Keppel Bay Marina, we are fully vaccinated, Randall has had a couple of minor medical issues addressed, our clothes are clean, and many of our online projects are up-to-date. Now it is time to continue north. Our goal is to leave on Saturday morning (10th July) and sail non-stop for three days and nights to reach Magnetic Island, near Townsville.

Several of our cruising friends are in that area and the water should be just a bit warmer for snorkeling, so we are planning to bypass the Whitsunday Islands. On our return trip south in October, we will hope to spend a little longer visiting some of the areas we will be skipping now. But we said the same thing on our way north last year, and the wind and waves were a little more boisterous than forecast, sending us scurrying for shelter at Scawfell Island. So, we shall see.

Note: We will probably stay fairly close to the shore so we hope to have phone and internet coverage much of the time, but we may lose it in the more remote areas.

The missing emus and ship’s song

08 July 2021 | Keppel Bay Marina, Yeppoon Harbour, QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: One of many emu-shaped interpretive signs in Emu Park
Oh dear, this is yet another example of having trouble casting-off the dock-lines!

Having booked into Keppel Bay Marina for two weeks, to allow ourselves time to enjoy with Hillary and Glen and then get our second Covid-19 vaccinations, we have now paid for a third week. It is a typical case of cascading doctor's appointments...but more of that later.

In the extra marina-time, we have kept ourselves busy with Randall sanding and varnishing the wooden cap-rail around the edge of the deck at the stern. I have had the usual rounds of laundry, stocking-up with groceries, online projects such as the blog, fish-survey lists and identification, emails, etc., running, and walks.

Bluff Point seen from near Rosslyn Bay, a very pleasant headland to run or walk around

We completed one bird survey (26 species) in the areas around the marina, which included several red-tailed black cockatoos. Having been frustrated by not seeing birds that were clearly calling, we are now trying to learn some bird songs/calls. We are starting with species that are easier (e.g., distinguishing between laughing- and blue-winged kookaburras) or that we are most likely to come across. Like trying to learn a new language, this is a challenging process for someone like me whose memory is very dependent on visual cues, but we test each other with an app on our phone, so we shall see...

One species in the marina whose calls we have not needed to learn from the phone is the welcome swallow. Masses of them swirl around us at dusk and roost for the night on neighboring boats. Their chattering is quite cute but we are very thankful that hardly any have settled on Tregoning. The mess that they have left of the next-door unoccupied boat is terrible. It is not just outside but many of them roost in the cave-like cockpit and other protected areas.

Top: Just a few of the welcome swallows roosting on a nearby boat; Bottom: A small area of the mess left by them all over the neighboring boat

As non-Australian residents, to get our Covid-19 vaccinations for free, we had to attend a respiratory clinic run by the national government, instead of just visiting one of the many local GPs offering the service. The nearest to the marina was on the far side of Rockhampton, the largest town in the Capricorn Coast Region. We had not been there before, but the bus we catch to go shopping in Yeppoon continues on to Rockhampton. So, early on Wednesday (30th June) we set-off for a day-trip of exploration and vaccination.

The countryside between Yeppoon and "Rocky" was quite attractive with steep-sided volcanic plugs scattered across the landscape. We visited a shopping mall to see if we could get a piece of snorkeling equipment in a shop called "Surf, dive, and ski" but, shockingly, the store only sold trendy clothes. Any equipment had to be purchased online...grrrr.

With time to kill before our 1:30 pm appointments, we took another bus across the city to the Botanic Gardens. Rocky has a population of more than 78,000 (as of 2018), and (according to our Lonely Planet Guide) more than 2.5 million cattle within a 250 km radius (156 miles), making it Australia's Beef Capital. This was not difficult to believe as we noticed the many agriculturally oriented businesses, and life-size models of several varieties of cattle.

On arriving at the Gardens, Randall was distracted by the small, free zoo. Being the school holidays, it was a popular destination, so we had to wait in line for about 20 minutes to get in because the pandemic limit of visitors was 200. Although they had a few non-Australian animals such as chimpanzees, we focused on the native dingoes, wombats, birds, etc., including a large estuarine crocodile named The Colonel. He was removed from northern Queensland after killing livestock and threatening people and was too aggressive in the crocodile farm where he was intended to be a breeding male. He now lives on his own in Rockhampton, and is estimated to be between 40 and 60 years old. He is 4.3 m (14 feet) long, weighs over 450 kg (990 lb), and in the wild could eat up to 40 kg (88 lb) in a single meal, which would last him for several months. At the zoo, he eats about 4 kg a week in the summer and 1 kg per week in the winter (8.8 and 2.2 lb, respectively). A sign also informed us that such large crocodiles can slow down their heart rate to just 2 to 3 beats per minute, allowing them to stay underwater for up to an hour while waiting for prey.

The Colonel - an estuarine crocodile at Rockhampton Zoo

By the time we had toured the small zoo and had some refreshment, it was time to get the bus back into the city center, and then another one going south to Gracemere where the respiratory clinic was located. This was a small rural community and seemed an odd place for the clinic but, luckily, it was close to the bus stop. Unlike the busy clinic in Upper Coomera where we got our first dose of the vaccine, there were very few people getting vaccinations in Gracemere and just a single healthcare worker dealing with everything. Listening to an elderly woman who was coming in for her first dose, it seems that many people in this area (probably very conservative and far from the cities with outbreaks of Covid-19) do not see any need for them to get vaccinated. This is one of the "problems" of being in a country that has seen relatively few cases.

Also unlike the first time, we did not need to show our passports or repeatedly complete forms. One form was enough and then we were taken to a room for the vaccinations, and our 15-minute wait afterwards (to make sure of no anaphylactic reaction). The cheerful healthcare worker, gave us hand-written cards with the date, place, and batch numbers for our second dose. Initially, she could not find the records online of our first dose but very kindly tried again later and phoned us with the batch numbers that we could write on the cards. We tried to print a more formal certificate from our online records, but despite jumping through many hoops, frustratingly we still cannot access these medical records as intended. I foresee another trip to a respiratory clinic in our future...

The good news was that the second vaccination did not have any of the unpleasant side-effects (sore arm and 'flu-like symptoms) that affected us after the first dose. Thus, the two-bus trip back to the marina was quite pleasant and we both felt fine for a return trip to the GP in Yeppoon the following day. This was the first part of the cascade resulting from an appointment a few days earlier, when Randall needed a new prescription for his statins. While in the doctor's office, he mentioned two other issues: a small skin lump just inside his left ear, and the periodic pain in the ball of his left foot. These comments led to appointments for a skin biopsy and an ultrasound on his foot.

Performed the day after our vaccinations, as predicted, the biopsy revealed a basal-cell carcinoma. The doctor was pretty confident that he had cut or cauterized all of the offending tissue and rather than send Randall to a plastic surgeon now, he suggested waiting a few weeks and seeing if any lumpiness returns. The ultrasound (requiring another two bus-trips to Yeppoon for it and the follow-up discussion with the GP) indicated bursitis at the base of two toes. We are developing a suspicion that this relates to the newish, comfortable, and expensive pair of walking shoes that Randall bought in Brisbane earlier in the year. Hopefully, he will be able to reduce the inflammation and find better footwear, but if he is still having problems by the time we reach Cairns, then a trip to a podiatrist may be in order. Ah...the joys of cruising, if it's not fixing something on the boat, it seems to be fixing one of us!

It has not all been work and medical issues, however. We have enjoy some musical evenings with kind hosts, Kevin and Joanne on SV Vivacious, and a lovely soiree with Gregg and Deb on SV Kalliope (last seen in Bundaberg). We also furthered our effort to visit new places by spending an afternoon in Emu Park.

The distant Keppel Islands seen from the beach just below the Singing Ship at Emu Park

This attractive little seaside town (population under 3,000) is south of Keppel Bay, and lies at the eastern end of the route of the bus that we had taken west to Rockhampton. There are several beaches separated by rocky outcrops including Fisherman' Beach, Ladies Beach, and Main Beach (formerly Men's Beach). Until 1909, sea-bathing was only allowed between 8 pm and 6 am when men swam naked. Thereafter, day-time bathing was permitted in swimming costumes that covered from ankle to neck, and with beaches segregated by gender. Mixed bathing only became acceptable in this area from the early 1930s.

A whimsical mural pointing the way to the Emu Park Surf Lifesaving Club

Although the town's name seems to imply that emus might be common in the area, we looked hard but did not see any, which was a pity as we have yet to see them in the wild. There were, however, plenty of historical markers which were mounted on emu-shaped structures (see introductory photo). Not only was the town's recent history, since it was settled by Europeans in the 1860s, documented by these markers, but Emu Park is becoming a popular tourist attraction for its Centenary of ANZAC Memorial.

Randall reading some of the detailed accounts of local people involved in World War I

This multi-faceted Memorial commemorates all aspects of Australian service in WWI, with a particular focus on the local people who served in Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. It would take a long time to read everything in the main building but a winding path led past the various sculptures and markers for important battles. The largest piece that provided a backdrop for the cenotaph, was a screen based upon a photograph taken by an official WWI photographer on the Western Front (in Belgium) on 5th October 1917. It shows 16 Australian infantry soldiers of the 1st ANZAC Division, trudging along duck-boards above a rain-filled crater, on their way to relieve comrades at the front line.

The ANZAC Memorial screen-sculpture in Emu Park, with an inset of the photograph upon which it is based

The sculpture is accompanied the poem "Moving On" which was written by Banjo Patterson, who also wrote "Waltzing Matilda" and the epic poem "The Man from Snowy River". "Moving On" was written when he served in France and the Middle East during WWI.

Moving On
In this war we're always moving,
Moving on;
Should a woman's kindly face
Make us welcome for a space,
Then its boot and saddle, boys, we're
Moving on.

In the hospitals they're moving,
Moving on;
They're here today, tomorrow they are gone;
When the bravest and the best
Our boys you know "go west"
Then you're choking down your tears and
Moving on.

Indeed, the whole Memorial was very moving. As I have said before, the Australians and New Zealanders certainly know how to pay loyal and impressive respects to the sacrifices made during wars.

After wandering through Emu Park and enjoying a tasty pizza dinner, it was dark enough for us to appreciate the other main tourist attraction of the town, the Singing Ship. This sculpture honors Captain James Cook, who "discovered" and named Keppel Bay in May 1770.

Daytime and nighttime views of the Singing Ship

The sculpture represents the billowing sail, mast, and rigging of Cook's ship Endeavour. The pipes forming the latter items are hollow with holes in the sides and are intended to "create musical sounds" during sea breezes. We suspect that with time and erosion, the creation of music has become more difficult. With a moderate breeze, we could only occasionally hear the faintest of tones. It must take a gale to make the ship really sing...but maybe that is the only time that the neighbors can tolerate the noise!

Dune-driving with an expert

25 June 2021 | Ferns Hideaway Resort, Byfield, (Tregoning at KBM) QLD, Australia
Alison Stocker | Photo: Little Five Rocks Beach and Five Rocks, as seen from Stockyard Point
On returning to Keppel Bay Marina, Hillary got busy online, searching for nearby National Parks that would be worth visiting for a night or two. She made such good progress narrowing down the options that late in the afternoon we allowed her to take a break for a walk!

Hillary and Glen on Rosslyn Head

After visiting the lookout points on Rosslyn Head and the adjacent Pebble Beach, we stopped for a drink at the Capricornia Cruising Yacht Club. We had not been there before but visitors are welcome to come and enjoy the views over Rosslyn Bay. We followed this by cooking the shrimp that we had just bought from the local fish market.

Hillary and Glen above Pebble Beach

The next morning, (Wednesday 23rd June) we moved the camping equipment out of the SUV, loaded our overnight bags, and drove north about 30 km (19 miles) to Byfield State Forest. It was wonderful that Hillary had been willing to do all the homework and select for us an itinerary for the next day or two. She had sensibly chosen several short tracks for us to investigate, and the first one was a loop trail at the Upper Stony Creek visitor area.

The not-wildly-exciting Byfield fern (Bowenia serrulata)

The Venusta Trail in the late morning did not have many birds visible, although we heard quite a few calling. It did allow Hillary to go into full botanizing mode which was a delight to witness. Within just a few minutes, she had found both of the plants that are endemic to the local area, the Byfield fern and Byfield grevillea.

Flowers of the Byfield grevillea (a.k.a. Byfield spider flower - Grevillea venusta)

It was not quite hot enough to tempt any of us to take a dip in the modest little stream that ran alongside part of the trail. From the plant material that was suspended high above the channel, the fallen trees, and water-crushed shrubs, it was evident, however, that the area was prone to some impressively high and powerful floodwaters at times. As we drove around, we saw many signs warning of flash-floods where roads crossed over low bridges. After seeing the impacts at Upper Stony Creek, we were thankful that rain was not forecast for the Byfield area for several days.

Hillary on the Bowenia trail near Water Park Creek

We drove further north to stop for lunch at Water Park Creek picnic and camping area, just inside the Byfield National Park. Hillary, Glen, and I took the short Bowenia Rainforest Circuit which provided a very brief sighting of a rose-crowned fruit-dove (new to me and a different species from fruit doves that we had seen in Samoa). Afterwards, Randall joined us as we walked down the road to the Creek, where we had an excellent view of a very obliging wompoo pigeon (a first for Randall but I had seen one very briefly in Julatten). Named for their distinctive "wompoo" call, this bird sat and called for many minutes, apparently unconcerned about the attention that it was receiving from us and other people gathered at the Creek.

A wompoo pigeon (a.k.a. wompoo fruit-dove to 40 cm or 16 inches)

Pleased with Hillary's selection of places to stop so far, we then headed to the Ferns Hideaway Resort. This was a brilliant choice as the rainforest retreat was wonderful, and we immediately developed a rapport with the on-site owners Genevieve and Marto.

This sign at the entrance to the resort was very encouraging (we think 'km' should be 'ha')

Initially established in the 1980s as a campground, Genevieve and Marto have carefully developed the site with several secluded cabins, a pool and spa, restaurant (weekends only), and access to canoes on Water Park Creek. Our cabin, the Bowenia Lodge, for A$220 (about US$170) for four people per night, had two bedrooms, a separate dinning and kitchen area, two decks, and a fire pit.

Glen's SUV outside the Bowenia Lodge with rainforest byond

While I wandered off to find the Creek, the others decided to lengthen our stay to two nights, which I immediately agreed was a very good idea. Hearing that we were interested in birds, Marto loaned us a booklet that identified the local species, and he also showed us a picture-book that followed the development of the resort. The most dramatic pictures were of the damage that was wreaked by Category 5 Cyclone Marcia on 20 February 2015. With floods, maximum gusts of 295 kph (183 mph or 159 knots), and high winds sustained for many hours, many trees in the rainforest were blown over. This opened parts of the canopy to provide mountain views for the first time. As if this did not provide enough anxiety and work, the cyclone was followed by wildfire in March, but, fortunately, it was controlled before reaching Byfield township and the resort.

Mountains in the Byfield State Forest or Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area seen over the Ferns Hideaway Resort campground

In addition to a flock of guinea-fowl that wander around the resort, the area is a refuge for wallabies that have been released after being rescued. Sadly, about 38 of them were killed as a result of Cyclone Marcia but several others remain or have been added since then. Marto invited us into their house to see Banjo, an agile wallaby that they hand-raised after he was rescued as a joey when his mother was killed on a road. Many volunteers throughout Australia, check the pouches of road-kill marsupials, hoping to save the joeys.

Banjo feeding on sweet-potatoes in Genevieve and Marto's office

Although 18 months old and long since released into the wild, Banjo is no fool and comes into the house for dinner most days. We were encouraged to talk to him as he ate and then we could stroke his back. We saw him around the resort in the morning, along with another paler wallaby, that Marto described as Banjo's girlfriend.

A paler, wild agile wallaby, known as Banjo's girlfriend

The following morning, Randall and I enjoyed an early birdwatching walk down to the Water Park Creek. We heard many more birds than we could see...further emphasizing our need to learn bird-calls! On our similar ramble the next day, we came upon this beautiful spring-fed pond with a thin mist over it. Asking Genevieve about it, we discovered that they had just sold this small section of their property. We hope that the new owners realize how very lucky they are, and treasure this little gem.

A spring-fed pond close to the Ferns Hideaway Resort

After breakfast on Thursday, we piled back into the SUV, returned to the Water Park Creek picnic area, and then continued along Stockyard Road. This took us deeper into Byfield National Park and to our first stop at the Banksia Circuit. Randall boldly led the way along this trail while Hillary scrutinized the plants and I listened to yet more invisible birds.

Randall leading the way on the Banksia Circuit

At first the trail went through an attractive area of open-canopied eucalypt forest with a dense groundcover of grass-trees. There were few banksia shrubs, however, so we wondered where the trail's name had come from. Eventually, though, we crossed a wetland where, under the thin canopy of casuarina trees, we found a robust population of swamp banksias.

Swamp banksia (Banksia robur) shrubs with old flower spikes that dry from brown to grey (seen on right)

Hillary was particularly thrilled by these swamp banksias which are native to coastal Queensland and northern NSW. Like all Banksia species, this one is adapted to fire with these fuzzy-looking flower spikes having old flowers covering the large seeds, and often remaining on the plant for multiple seasons. If the old brown/grey flowers are burned off, the seeds are revealed and the heat causes them to open. Regrowth also occurs from the base of the plant after fire, as seen in the following picture as the green vegetation behind this burned flower spike.

Opened seeds on a burned swamp banksia plant that we saw later in the day

Once we left the Banksia Circuit, we continued heading towards the coast. To get there, the National Park Road crossed a large sand dune called Big Sandy, and before tackling this "difficult 4WD" section, Glen stopped to let air out of the tires. Taking a road such as this was something Randall and I would never have undertaken on our own, even if we had access to a suitably high-riding 4WD vehicle. Glen (a fire-fighter so someone we consider a trustworthy risk-taker) was well-experienced in this sort of driving, so we felt fully confident even when the road was much steeper, and with deeper sand, than these pictures depict.

A couple of the sandy roads in Byfield National Park

We had one false-start up a less-well-used lane of the ascent of Big Sandy, but after carefully backing down and taking the other lane, Glen never hesitated. His mastery of the low gears and keeping traction was skillful, and we made it easily over Big Sandy and headed down towards Stockyard Point.

Before visiting the Point, we stopped at the top of the path down to Little Five Rocks Beach, where Randall surveyed birds around the picnic tables, while the rest of us botanized our way through the coastal heath and a small wetland. On returning to Randall, he was excited to relate that he had come face-to-face with a dingo. Startled and at first confused as to whether it was an illegal pet dog in the National Park, he forgot to snap a photo of it on the phone, but watched as it casually turned and trotted away down the trail. Apparently, they are frequent visitors to the nearby campground, but it was still a surprising and wondrous experience for Randall.

From Stockyard Point we had an excellent view north of Five Rocks, and south along Nine Mile Beach to Water Park Point. Rather curiously, to reach Stockyard Point, we wove through an out-parcel of the National Park that is Stockyard Point township and is packed with houses and cabins of, apparently, a mixture of economic statuses. While the area is beautiful, it seemed a little odd to us to live in a remote and difficult to access location where you are jammed rather close to your neighbors. Not only are the inland roads difficult to negotiate in a hurry, but they must frequently become blocked by less-experienced drivers. There was a helipad for emergencies but you would need plenty of patience to live in that township for any length of time.

Nine Mile Beach from Stockyard Point

We drove down to Nine Mile Beach and stopped for lunch by Freshwater Creek, where Glen and I waded around in the sandy-bottomed stream watching a few yabbies, Australian freshwater crayfish. At the far end of the Beach, we crossed the isthmus between the mainland and Water Park Point, to park in a small campground overlooking Corio Bay. Signs warning about estuarine crocodiles made us a little wary as we followed the short path from the campground above the mangroves to the edge of the Bay. However, the only sign of life other than a pair of motionless Brahminy kites watching us from the adjacent trees, was the periodic plop of a turtle raising its head above water to breathe.

Glen and Hillary look across the shallow Corio Bay to the section of Byfield National Park that includes the southern shoreline

We saw a couple of boats anchored in the lee of the headland but this limited section of the Bay can only be entered at high tide under calm conditions, so it was an unlikely place for us to visit in Tregoning. Instead, we took one last look and then entrusted ourselves to Glen to get us back across the Big Sandy. He negotiated this expertly, only to find our exit blocked by a train of about five vehicles with trailers that had got stuck as they started the ascent coming in the opposite direction. It looked like a group of families that were planning to spend the beginning of the school winter holidays camping and fishing in the National Park.

Luckily for us, the blockage was at a wide section of the road where we could pass most of them on the right. The last vehicle in the line prevented us from getting all the way past the group, but that truck was able to back down the road with us following them, until they reached another wide spot. We were very thankful that they had not become bogged-down on a narrower section of the road where we could not pass. After that it was easy to return to the Ferns, where Glen used his small compressor to re-inflate the tires.

Hillary and Glen had enough energy to go down to the Creek to go canoeing at dusk. They did not see any kingfishers as hoped, but as darkness fell, many micro-bats swirled around them. Soon after they returned, Marto and Genevieve joined us on the cabin's deck at Randall's invitation. Marto brought a second guitar for Randall and we all enjoyed a good sing-along. Marto plays a jam-session with any musicians that turn-up at the restaurant on a Saturday evening, so he had a remarkable repertoire of songs. We would have loved to attend one of these musical evenings but staying two more nights was not an option for us. After music and dinner, we roasted marshmallows over a small fire that Glen (the firefighter) had established in the fire-pit. The marshmallows we had bought were supersized, about the equivalent of six normal-sized ones. They were fun to roast and eat but it did not take many to feel like more than enough!

Hillary and Glen canoeing on Water Park Creek

On Friday morning, we cleared our stuff out of the cabin so that it could be cleaned, and then walked down to the Creek. With a canoe per couple, we first paddled downstream to the weir at the Water Park Creek picnic and camping area. There was hardly any flow so it took no more effort to paddle back upstream. It was beautiful on the Creek but despite a plethora of suitable perches, we still did not see any kingfishers, much to Hillary's disappointment. We also paddled upstream of the Ferns for about 30 minutes, passing a posse of empty kayaks at the landing for another resort. The sky was clouding over and we were refreshed by sprinkles from a couple of brief showers. More rain was forecast for the weekend, which was why we had decided not to stay at the Ferns for any more nights.

By the time we felt well-exercised and had returned the canoes, paddles, and life-jackets, it was lunchtime. After wishing our hosts farewell, we stopped to eat at the lovely and popular café at the Byfield General Store before continuing on to Yeppoon. On the way, we saw such an extraordinary sight that we had Glen pull-over and even turn around to get a better look. What had so captured our attention was a large farm-pond with thousands of magpie geese on it.

Hundreds of black and white magpie geese at one end of a farm-pond, the other 80% of the pond was just as densely populated

We would have liked to have taken a closer look but there were several signs along the side-road nearer the pond, fiercely pronouncing that it was private property and trespassers would be prosecuted. The noise was impressive and, at closer quarters, the smell was probably pretty pungent too. We presumed that this was a temporary resting area, as it did not seem possible that the small pond could sustain such a huge population for very long, but these geese do not typically undergo long annual migrations. Native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea, they form large breeding colonies during the wet season (summer). In the dry season, they move to permanent wetlands where food may eventually become limited due to crowding. As soon as the first rains come, the populations spread out again looking for new food sources to help them improve their condition in preparation for breeding again. Although protected from non-indigenous hunters in the rest of Australia, magpie geese are considered a game species in the Northern Territory, where their numbers are highest. Perhaps this population did stay around for a while and the Keep Out signs were intended to protect them.

After a short wander around Yeppoon, supplemented by gelato and ice-cream from a place recommended by Rob (our dairy-delight counsellor in Vancouver), we returned to the marina to move equipment back and forth between the SUV and boat. Just enough room was left on the backseat so that we could ride back to Yeppoon in the evening to enjoy a live-music night at the "Pie Alley Blues" bar and restaurant. It was a fun way to spend our last evening together, because in the morning, Hillary and Glen set-off southward to visit Cousin Megan and Steve in Mooloolaba.

It had been a marvelous, activity-filled week and we were sorry to see Hillary and Glen leave as they are wonderful guests and excellent tour-managers. We were glad that we had booked the marina berth for two weeks because the weather had encouraged many other cruisers to seek shelter there. Being able to come and go by boat or car as we pleased had been very convenient and now we had another week ashore in which to get our second Covid-19 vaccinations and get caught-up with online projects, etc. It is unclear whether we will take the boat to Sydney again or when we might be able to go overland without having to worry about pandemic lockdowns, but we are sure that we will see Hillary and Glen again before we leave Australia...whenever that may be.
Vessel Name: Tregoning
Vessel Make/Model: Morgan Classic 41
Hailing Port: Gainesville, FL
Crew: Alison and Randall
About: We cast-off from Fernandina Beach in north Florida on 1st June 2008 and we have been cruising on Tregoning ever since. Before buying Tregoning, both of us had been sailing on smaller boats for many years and had worked around boats and water throughout our careers.
Extra: “Tregoning” (rhymes with “belonging”) and is a Cornish word (meaning “homestead of Cohnan” or “farm by the ash trees”) and was Alison's mother’s middle name. Cornwall is in southwest England and is where Alison grew-up.
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