Brisbane River

Sunday 20th April

Well we're back in another major city, Australia's third largest to be precise,and really loving it! sailing 15 miles up the winding Brisbane river we passed through ever changing industrial and residential areas and finally made our way into the heart of the city. Anchoring off the botanical gardens with towering skyscrapers all around us I quite literally think we have the best view in town.

Once we figured out how to anchor without swinging into any other boats as the tide changed direction (there have been many near misses!) we were able to get ashore and explore for at least six hours until the next change over. Brisbane is a much smaller version of Sydney and so instead of taking weeks to explore it's only taken us a couple of days to get ourselves orientated. It's a beautiful city with a really great vibe, the people are friendly and we've already met just about the whole cruising community living here.

We've also finally caught up with our friends Eli & Jorn on the Norwegian boat 'Silene' who we haven't seen since Bora Bora and have been making up for missed drinks and nights out! They've helped us to decide that we will be carrying on to Indonesia with an organised rally in July. If you know us you know that we're incredibly indecisive and would have procrastinated to the last minute. We did consider stopping in Australia to work but there lure of more exotic islands and warmer climates (yes it is autumn here and absolutely freezing at night) is just to much!! So we'll be leaving for indonesia on the 26th July and then cruise through to Singapore, Malaysia and hope to be in Thailand for Christmas.

Goodbye New South Wales - Hello Queensland!

5th April 2008
Yes we have finally crossed the border and passed out of the State of New South Wales and into Queensland! It’s been a bit of a slog over the last few weeks pushing up the coast as soon as the winds turned round from the south. However the quiet, tucked away little towns we’ve found along the way have been fantastic.
We pulled into the town of Yamba after a tough three day sail up from Port Stevens and our first experience of crossing over a bar – no, not the type you buy a drink in but the kind that’s created by a build up of sand at the entrance of a breakwater! The area gets really shallow and breaks in bad weather, however, with the help of pre- planning the tidal flow on an incoming tide you can hopefully avoid anything too bad.
Yamba’s a typical Australian small surfing town, really relaxed and friendly and completely laid back. We were lucky to catch up with some Norwegian cruising friends on board “Blue Marlin” who stopped here so their twin daughters could spend a couple of months attending the local school. Luckily for us they’d befriended the local shrimp fishermen and so we feasted on delicious cheap fresh prawns! We also got our first sight of last! We'd heard that they love the grass on the Golf course and that's exactly where they were.
We took a side trip up the river to the town of Maclean , originally settled by the Scottish it’s still brimming with their ancestors and traditions. Unfortunately we’d just missed their yearly Highland games but we spent our time admiring all the painted telegraph poles with clan tartans and took a hike up to the cairn (almost killing Jimmy) with beautiful views over the river.
Our next stop was the town of Ballina, just 55 miles north of Yamba and a slightly more tricky bar entrance. The anchorage was on the other side of the river from town so it was blissfully quiet and just a short walk to a perfect surf beach. We jumped on the bus and took a trip to the famous town of Byron Bay, one of my favourite stops on my last visit. Byron is a mecca for travellers and surfers looking for that perfect chilled out experience. With all the great little clothes shops it's hard not to love it!!
I dragged Jimmy up to the lighthouse and Australia's most easterly point to get the great views of the coast and Fingal Beach - the famous surf spot. We visited the Arts Factory backpackers where I once called home and Jimmy got a feel for the possibility of becoming a backpacker for a while!

Our time as always was short and we decided to push on through to Queensland while we had a reasonably good weather window. However crossing the bar on the way out of Ballina in rougher weather was not a fun experience. After arriving we heard from a local that this one was rated one of the worst bars in Australia (we wished we'd known before coming in). As we started to leave we could see big breakers all across the entrance and as we got closer they got bigger. The thought of turning around was appealing but we decided to keep on and we're extremely lucky that our timing was perfect. With breaking waves all around us we slipped on through just before a rogue wave crashed behind us!

We are now safely anchored off of Surfers Paradise (yes that's what it's called) in the Gold coast and are waiting for the rain to stop before we sail up through the inland waterways to Brisbane. Jimmy's mum arrives on the 21st so we have a lot of work to do to get the boat guest worthy again!!

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