At around lunchtime on 24th June 2018, Sengo and its crew crossed through the Port Phillip Heads, (against a slight tide), and motored-sailed into Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. With that milestone we had officially ‘done the loop’ and completed our first Australian mainland circumnavigation.
It has been four years since we got Aboard Sengo and in that time we have travelled from Sydney (July 2014), south to Melbourne (February 2015), then north to Airlie Beach (August 2015), then south to Brisbane (February 2016), and then north again around the top and back down the western and along the southern sides of this country. There was a six-month, 25,000 kilometre, road trip in the midst of this (mainly because we couldn’t live aboard in Cullen Bay Marina, Darwin over wet season), which, of course, held its own set of adventures and scenery.
If you asked us what our favourite place was over the past four years (as many do) we couldn’t answer you. In some respects they are all good. The Kimberley was a highlight, a three month sojourn that wasn’t long enough, but we’ve generally found enjoyment and/or serenity just about everywhere we’ve been. Apart from the crowds, you also can’t beat the Whitsunday’s and nearby islands and island groups. And the smaller islands of the Great Barrier Reef we’ve visited have been wonderful. Further south the creeks amongst the background waters of Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park just north of Sydney are serene (even with the background traffic – although weekends are a bit busy for our liking). Yet, we also enjoyed the muddy croc infested waters anchored off ‘unremarkable’ Innisfail…. And so it goes….
Although we have completed a lap, so to speak, we definitely haven’t seen all of it. In fact we hardly saw anything of Western Australia, for after the Kimberley it was a rush to get south to avoid the strong south-west trade winds. We missed most of South Australia; after getting stuck in Ceduna for a time it was getting mighty cold and time to move on. The NSW coast was mostly missed on our initial journey north and we are looking forward to exploring some of its rivers when we get the time. Unless you have local knowledge and, more importantly, time, there are few places to anchor on Victoria’s east coast (although the scenery around Wilsons Promontory is inspiring and the Gippsland Lakes are very pleasant), and anchorages in the Northern Territory were mainly just taken to get to Darwin. Queensland is where we spent the majority of the time and saw the most but there is so much more to see. The upshot is that Australia is a ‘Mighty Big Island’ and even if we spend years cruising here we are unlikely to see all of it. (Below is a slideshow representation of some of the places we’ve stayed for the past four years. (the photos are in no particular order)).
However, it isn’t only the scenery that needs to be experienced, it is the people – and we have met the most wonderful, generous, fabulous and usually (although not always) like-minded individuals. Every encounter holds memories and contact may only have been in one anchorage – or it may have been in several. The relationships built may have lasted only a few days, or a few weeks, or they are still ongoing after our four years of cruising. And not all relationships gathered have been boaties… we met some fantastic land-lubbers as well (although, admittedly, most of these are aspirant water babies).
Love a bit of ‘Cross Border Rivalry’.
Travelling across (over/around) State borders did provide us with a few logistical and informational challenges…
Food: There are (quarantine) rules as to what food you can and can’t bring in to a State/Territory. Western Australia was particularly strict and our sojourn into the Kimberley meant we were on a tin food diet for the best part of three months! (Although I note that the restrictions were going to change on 1st June 2017 – as we had been gearing up to leave Darwin before this, I did not check the new regime – I have heard it is a little more relaxed).
Boats: Boating rules/regulations and qualification requirements differ between jurisdictions and there is always the big question – do I put that lifejacket on – even to ride 50 meters to shore? (We do now, we are Victorian – the life jacket rules were always there, but we did get out of the habit for a while where it wasn’t law and nobody else was doing it – it is amazing (scaringly) how quickly you get into the herd mentality). The requirement for safety equipment on boats and tenders is also varied. Indeed, even the definition of a tender, and where you can and can’t take it (distance from shore and the mother ship) it is a point of difference (and in many cases, contention).
Fishing: Fishing rules also differ. A fishing licence may mean you have the right to fish anywhere, just in specified locations, or that you can only fish using one method at a time (in South Australia, apparently, if you are line fishing you can’t have crab pots out at the same time). In Western Australia there is one licence for fishing from a boat, one for crayfishing and so on… (and the abalone season goes for about an hour each month!). Oh, and if you are crabbing, each state has different rules for the type of crab pot you can put out. At the end of our loop we have ended up with none; Andrew’s original crab pot (many years old) was not approved in Queensland, so we bought a Queensland approved version. The old pot got thrown out at Darwin and the Queensland version given away before we headed into WA – apparently you can be fined for just possessing the wrong equipment in that State. Having said that, the contact we had with PV Walcott, when we did meet them (a fisheries inspection vessel with a nasty reputation amongst yachties) was benign. Of course when we got to South Australia our original crab pot would have been fine!
When assistance was needed..
Of course, the journey hasn’t all been smooth sailing. We’ve had sick humans, sick cats, broken bits, and regular necessary maintenance to deal with – some of it in remote locations. What we have found though around the country are individuals and businesses willing to give that extra hand or go that extra mile with loving care when needed.
Listed below are some of the contractors/businesses we’ve used over the past four years: outboard mechanics, marine electricians, vets, car hire mobs, marinas, chandleries, shipwrights, slipways, and an engineering shop.(Those highlighted in bold merit particular mention).
|Fraser Coast Boating – 120 Richmond Street, Maryborough QLD – (07) 41221770|
|Andrew Wotton Marine – 9 Smith Rd, Ceduna SA – 0400 263 305|
|BME – Rowell Marina, 1 Queens Parade, Newport NSW– (02) 9997 6822|
|Maritime Electronic Services – 24 Bowen St, O’Connor WA – (08) 9335 2716|
|Ceduna Metal Solutions, 70 Schwarz St, Ceduna SA (08) 8625 2024|
|Visits to vets have ranged from simple claw clipping to operations! Either way, the sight of the cat cage is usually not a welcome sight. Having said that, the cats did have their favourites…|
|North Croydon Veterinary Clinic – 86 Exeter Road, North Croydon VIC -(03) 9726 9616 (family vet)|
|Shoal Bay Veterinary Clinic – 129 Shoal Bay Rd, Shoal Bay, NSW – (02) 4981 2417|
|Vet Cross ‘ – Central Shop/Centre, 699 Bargara Road, Bargara QLD – (07) 4130 5003|
|Seadog Veterinary Services – 72 Charlotte St, Cooktown QLD – (07) 4069 6608|
|Parap Veterinary Hospital -41 Gregory St, Parap NT – (08) 8981 9767|
|Mid West Vet’ Centre – 117 Cathedral avenue, Geraldton WA – (08) 9964 3671|
|Sage – Central Fremantle Vet – 144 Hampton Rd, Fremante WA – (08) 9430 5777|
|Dog Rock – 323 Middleton Rd, Albany WA – (08) 9842 2595|
|Vets on Eyre – 4 Proper Bay Rd, Port Lincoln SA- (08) 8683 4299|
|Lincoln Veterinary Centre -20 Windsor Ave, Port Lincoln SA (food ordered only)|
|Car Hire mobs|
|On the odd occasion when in port we’ve hired a car – usually to get to places we can’t walk to or, if necessary, to get to the vet. Sometimes we hire a car just to go exploring if we know we will be around for a while, or in a location we are unlikely to visit again. To minimise the hit to the budget we find the cheapest cars we can, and search for second-hand car rentals (although we need to be careful if the reason is a vet visit, not all car hire mobs- even second hand ones- allow pets!). Of course the cost of car hire in each individual location is what the market will bear. We’ve paid up to $65/day in remoter locations, and down to $20/day in Fremantle (if you book for a week). We’ve never been fussy with the model (or the condition) – usually just the cheapest we can find. Most have been small but occasionally we get a mid-sized car that can fit in a lot of shopping!|
|Bridgestone Service Centre LOT 3 Bruce Hwy, Innisfail QLD – (07) 4061 4567|
|Highway Auto Bahn – 201 Eighth St, Geraldton WA – (08) 9964 4476|
|Backpacker Car rentals – 284 Hampton Rd, Fremantle WA – (08) 9430 8869|
|Bayswater Car Rental – 13 Queen Victoria St, Fremantle WA – (08) 9430 53008|
|Hollywood Car Hire – Check with Visitor Centre, Esperance WA – (08) 9083 1555|
|Sparks and Spanners – 87 Liverpool St, Port Lincoln -(08) 8683 0870
ask for Miles (he’s a yachtie)
|Rent a Bomb – 149 Clarendon St, South Melbourne VIC 3006 – (03) 9696 7555|
|If there’s a Whitworths (the ‘Bunnings’ of chandleries) in town, it is usually visited as part of an expected pilgrimage. However, we like to support the little guy as well. I can’t actually remember all the chandleries we’ve visited, as we will pop into one if we are passing it as a matter of course – but a few are listed below.|
|Bosun’s Locker – RPAYC – 16 Mitala St, Newport NSW – (02) 9997 2382|
|Quadrant Marine – Shop 8 Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach QLD – (07) 49464033|
|Anchor Marine – 77 Beach Rd, Sandringham VIC – (03) 9598 8077|
|Nautical Supplies – 80 Frances Bay Dr, Darwin City NT – (08) 8981 6651|
|The Yacht Shop – Darwin S C, Atkins Drive, Fannie Bay NT – (08) 8981 2948|
|Darwin Shipstores – (Cullen Bay Store was really helpful. However we believe this business may have new management since we left)|
|John Max Marine – 405 Marine Terrace, West End WA – (08) 9964 3642|
|Boating Hardware Prosail – U6/1 Zeta Crescent, O’Connor WA – (08) 9337 9900|
|Wilson Marine – 1 Capo D’Orlando Dr, South Fremantle WA – (08) 9336 1111|
|186 – 190 Princess Royal Drive, Albany WA – (08) 9841 2277|
|The Deck Store – 39 Tingira St, Portsmith QLD – (07) 4035 1951|
|Royal Motor Yacht Club – 46 Prince Alfred Parade, Newport NSW – (02) 9997 5511|
|Boat Works – 1 Boat Works Drive, Coomera, Gold Coast QLD – (07) 5500 0000|
|North Port Marine Services – 4 Sultan Way, North Fremantle WA – (08) 9430 7623|
|On the subject of marinas: we tend to avoid them. But sometimes it is necessary when easy access to shore is required or for when contractors need to work on the boat. On the very odd occasion it has been spontaneous. We have stayed at the following:|
|d’Albora Marinas Cabarita Point – 138 Cabarita Rd, Cabarita NSW – (02) 9743 6277
(note: affected by wave movement from fast ferries).
|Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club -16 Mitala St, Newport NSW – (02) 9998 3700|
|Royal Motor Yacht Club – 46 Prince Alfred Parade, Newport NSW – (02) 9997 5511|
|Soldiers Point Marina – Sunset Blvd, Soldiers Point NSW – (02) 4982 7445|
|Mary River Marina – 71 Wharf St, Maryborough QLD – (07) 4123 1405|
|Great Sandy Straits Marina – 17 Buccaneer Dr, Urangan QLD -(07) 4125 3822|
|Able Point Marina – Shingley Dr, Airlie Beach, QLD – (07) 4946 2400|
|Cullen Bay Marina – 68 Marina Blvd, Cullen Bay NT – (08) 8942 0400|
|Geraldton – Department of Transport Marina, WA|
|Fremantle Sailing Club – 151 Marine Terrace, Fremantle WA – (08) 9435 8800|
|Augusta – Department of Transport Marina, WA|
|Albany – Department of Transport Marina, WA|
|Port Lincoln, SA. Officially I think visitors are supposed to contact the Sarin Group. The notice on the marina gates of the marina facility closest to the entrance asks you to call 8621 4443 or 0429 885 265. However, others have had trouble with responses from this group. We were contacted via the web via a local and got local knowledge to come in. The locals are friendly!|
|Yarra’s Edge – 84A River Esplanade, Melbourne VIC – (03) 9681 8394|
|Royal Brighton Yacht Club – 253 Esplanade, Middle Brighton VIC – (03) 9592 3092|
|Wyndham Harbour – 50 Quay Blvd, Wyndham Harbour VIC – (03) 9233 8530|
And finally, although we have attended many events I just thought I’d list a couple of the more memorable markets…
|It seems that just about every place we stop at has a market – or two – or three, or more. They range from food orientated ‘farmers markets’ to highlight the local producers, through craft markets and tourist orientated events, to a general mix of everything. The most notable markets we’ve attended are below|
|Maryborough Market – Maryborough, QLD|
|Airlie Beach Market – Airlie Beach – QLD|
|Mindil Beach Night Market – Darwin, NT (seasonal)|
|Fremantle Market – Fremantle – WA|
|Magnetic Island Market – Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, QLD|