Thursday, November 30, 2006

Aussie Road Trip 1

It’s now a week since we set off on our road trip. Our last day in Bundy was a fuelled by a few too many drinks the night before with our sailing friends and resulted in us just chucking everything we could in the back of the car to be sorted out later! We have a lot of stuff as we decided to take our inflatable kayak with us (just in case we get withdrawal symptoms from being off the water), we are also going to N England for Xmas, New Zealand in Feb -this all means a lot of shoes!! We managed to get away about 3pm and after a quick trip to Woolworths to booster our camping supplies we were on the road. First stop about 2 hours south of Bundy in a place called Howard. A nice little campsite but a bit near the main road for us, although we did meet Lindsay in his ‘big rig’ - this is a coach that has been turned into a home - Lindsay had a coach complete with trailer for his 4x4, washing machine, study, fitted bathroom and parrott!! This is a whole new world! Lyndsay and his wife run their business from the coach and travel around Australia - he gave us loads of good advice on things to do and see and we left Howard really excited about our forthcoming trip.

Mount Tambourine was our next stop. Everyone we met in Queensland told us we had to visit this beautiful area just inland from the Gold Coast. It was good advice as it really is lovely and the town is really quaint and cute. As we arrived in the area we called in at pub for a bit of lunch - this pub held cane toad races every Sunday, had alpacas in the garden and menu items that included crocodile and kangaroo. We felt like we had arrived in Australia. Our campsite in Mount Tambourine was right alongside a gorgeous creek, it was Saturday and was absolutely packed with Australian families having a great time. We read their was a nice walk down the creek so donned our boots and off we went. We realized this wasn’t a real hiking area when we reached the carpark and saw women in heels and dresses heading for the same walk - the pathway was all paved but the views of the gorge were just lovely and we managed to sneak off the path to find some fish poachers downstream drinking whisky - nice chaps though! We eventually found some more remote walking areas in Tambourine but we have realized that walking in Australia is very different to the UK. The countryside here is so wild you dare not leave the path and there are no old established trails like we have.

For a bit of a reality check, after leaving Mount Tambourine we headed to the gold coast. Wow! This is like miami (not been but how I imagine it) all high rise buildings, glitz and cheesiness everywhere - it had to be seen to be believed. We didn’t stop long as friends Darren & Annie on Ripple II had been towed into a nearby marina with engine probs so we stopped by to see how they were doing - in true Aussie fashion they were not letting the engine troubles spoil their celebrations on arriving home! We left them after Darren wound Andrew up over the cricket and found our way back in land to the calm of Lamington national park.

The drive into the park is amazing in itself, a journey you think will take no more that half an hour takes more than double, the roads a twisty turning mountain roads with cliff edge sides but the views were amazing as you drive from one side of the mountain range to the other. The park itself is about 3000 metres above sea level. We went to the Green Mountain section where O’Reilly’s guest house is the famous point with is treetop walk through the rainforest. We were a bit suspicious as how these Irish farmers ended up with a prime bit of land in the middle of the National Park - but the marketing guys have had a field day and they are now building holiday homes up there. Anyway, enough rambling we tucked ourselves in a great corner of the national park campsite, together with billions of Pademelons (little wallaby type creatures), loads of brightly colored parrots and these amazing Satin Bowerbirds (they collect anything blue for their nests - one we saw had loads of pepsi merchandise and even a blue flip-flop). We did two days of full hiking around the park. The first day was beautiful unspoiled rainforest with over eighteen waterfalls on the way back - and we missed some out because quite frankly waterfalls are boring now!!! (Listen to me!) The second day we dropped down into a beautiful creek and walked though amazing Antarctic beech forests (these trees grew in the Antarctic and ended up being in Australia when the land split away and have adapted to grow in the rainforest - they are huge and have several trunks in one tree). Just over halfway round the circuit walk we came across a beautiful guana (big black lizard) so stopped to take a picture, as we walked around the next corner I let out a big gasp and stopped dead - right across our path was the biggest snake I have ever seen, (including in zoos and on tv) it was over 2m long and sunning itself right on the path with no way round. Andrew’s response was first lets take a photo! Anyway we survived and managed to scare it off by stamping our feet. We had our picnic lunch on a rock in the river away from where snakes could get us and quickly walked out of the park. It turned out not to be poisonous but we still wouldn’t like to meet it again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Trial Camping Trip

Carolyn prepares lunch - outside our new home!
Kangaroos woke us up bouncing around outside the tent the next morning.
We tried our hand at surfing at Agnes Water - the professional surfers didn't seem to mind us in histerics trying to catch waves on Jon & James' body boards! We were exhausted and half drowned by the end of the afternoon but on a spot like this you just had to have ago.

A morning stroll on the beach with only pelicans for company.

Bundy Pics

Andrew receives the Port to Port rally award 'Spirit of the Event' for supporting Dallandra on passage when Ron had a kidney stone - luckily the stone went away but Robyn was very relieved to have us on standby so nominated Andrew for the award.

Our first trip outside of Bundy took us to Elliott Heads beach where we had a great picnic and swam in the sea for the first time since Fji. The beach was deserted and beautiful. If this is just an ordinary Aussie beach I'm excited.

It's sugar cane harvesting season in Bundaberg. This year the cane here has a bug so they are having to burn the leaves etc before harvesting - the fires are amazing but the bits of black stuff all over the boat is not!

Our new car! Freddy the ford has taken Andrew's attention from fixing R2 as he's been servicing the car and getting him ready for our trip south. We bought some cheap camping stuff and have been on a trial camping trip this week.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Turtle Eggs

We had an awesome night on Sunday. We went to Mon Repos, a turtle rookery just along the coast from the marina. We had a talk from the park ranger, then waited. At just after 7am the rangers had spotted a turtle on the beach, we waited a short while until she had dug her nest and then we were shown down to the beach with the researchers to witness her lay her eggs. We were just a few feet from her and watched as she laid 106 eggs. Her eyes look like she is crying but it's just her regulating her eyes while out of the water. She was one of only 700 loggerhead turtles reproducing in Australia and one of the first to arrive at Mon Repos this season. After she had finished laying eggs she buried them and turned towards the sea, oblivious to us watching her she made her way back to the ocean to return in 15 days. After she had swum off the researchers dug up the eggs to count them- they can move them within 2 hours of being laid and they even allowed us to touch them - they were like squidgey ping pong balls. Only 1 in 1000 baby turtles make it to adult. She was 96 cm long and weighed 100 kgs. What a special experience!

Monday, November 06, 2006

ReVision II Down Under

Some 12,000 nautical miles after leaving Spain a year ago we have arrived in Australia. We have spent more than 140 days at sea and vistited more than 40 countries or islands.

Yesterday morning just after dawn we completed our approach to Bundaberg in Queensland. It's really exciting to be here. Will update more later.

Here's a picture of us just prior to arriving taken by Robyn aboard Dallandra

Friday, November 03, 2006


In the last couple of months there has been a few times when I have really wondered what we are doing out here - worrying about cyclones, sleepless nights on anchor watch, horrid weather.... Today, however we have had a unreality check (if there is such a thing), it is just the most beautiful perfect day. We have had amazing weather since getting clear of Vanuatu with lovely sailing but today has just been one of those days dreams are made of. The sea is flat calm, the sky is completely clear and there is only about 6 knots of wind. We motored a little this morning, but then had a better idea. We bought a spinnaker (big coloured sail for the non sailors) from a guy in Raiatea for £50 and have never even had a good look at it. Out it came and we managed to set it up and had fab time playing around with it. We got it set and R2 just loved it, being gently pulled along by this huge parachute, but sitting flat and right on course at 5 knots - we were so chuffed with ourselves. We had a celebratory beer and then sat down to enjoy our lunch. Yesterday we caught a lovely little yellow fin tuna, so we had a fillet each coated in sweet chilli sauce, coconut and sesame seeds then seared and served with salad - basically a free lunch and it was delicious. We sat looking out at the ocean rippling along and the spinnaker bouncing ahead and just said wow this is why! ReVision II's position 0400 GMT 3 November 2006 22 degrees 25 mins South, 155 degrees 49 mins East - 233 miles to Bundaberg.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blue Skies and Fair Winds

At 00:30 GMT on Thursday November 2nd ReVision II was at 20 Deg 38 Mins South and 158 Deg 11 Mins East with 403 miles to go to Bundaberg. We have had four days of perfect sailing with blue skies and light winds. It's been several months since we have had anything like this. The boat is going well and we were relieved to navigate our way through a series of outlying reefs during the night without incident. We are now crossing an area which is at the bottom of the great barrier reef so there are lots of hazards to watch out for even though most of the time the water if 3000 metres deep. We caught a nice Mahi Mahi on the first day and then a small yellow fin tuna yesterday so we are not going hungry. We didn't buy any food in Vanuatu as we know that Australian customs will confiscate most produce on arrival so we are working our way through the ships stores. Our friends Ron and Robyn on Dallandra, a 47 foot ketch from New Zealand are only a few miles away and we are in touch by radio. Other friends Chris and Karyn on Magic Carpet are a day in front and we will be having a big party in Bundaberg as they are completing a circumnavigation. Yesterday we were able to make contact with our old friends on Kika, Zefrin, Ragtime and Noa who are all on route to New Zealand. It was great to speak to them all. It's still amazing to us that we can speak to people on their boats a thousand miles away with our HF radio. We're hoping the weather holds out so that we can make landfall on Sunday.