During the two weeks that it took us to get from Cairns to Thursday Island we have realised just how vast Australia is - we thought Cairns was near the top! We had some fantastic days sailing with good winds aft of the beam and relatively calm seas as we were inside the barrier reef. That in itself posed some navigational challenges and we were crossing or in shipping lanes, but we had a great time. Along with lots of other rally boats, we decided to do the passage in day hops of between 25 and 60 nm (nautical miles) with a 3 day stop at Lizard island for some rest in the middle with wonderful walks and snorkelling.
Our nighttime anchorages varied from being tucked in bays on the mainland, behind coral atolls, wooded islands or river estuaries - all with very little evidence of human habitation. This is big crocodile country so there was no swimming when near the mainland but the turtles and dugongs in the water and abundant bird life and attempting to learn a bit of bahasa indonesian language kept us occupied.
We managed to get an afternoon in Cook Town where James Cook spent time repairing The Endeavor after hitting the reef in 1770. We had a look around and visited the museum, it was good to stretch our legs.
On the final day going up the coast we got up just before dawn, hoisted the spinnaker and took the flood tide through the very beautiful Albany passage (past Somerset Bay) and then round Cape York - the northern most tip of mainland Australia. We anchored between Horn and Thursday Islands where the rally boats are congregating. The mud bank on the shore adjacent to where we anchored is home to an enormous crocodile (at least 3m long). He spends most of the day basking on the mud - we feel more relaxed when we can see him- its when we can't see him that we feel a little uneasy!
On Monday we shall checkout of Australia with Customs and Immigration on Thursday Island and head off for the 650 nm passage to Debut in Indonesia. Although relentless, the last two weeks have given us some wonderful sailing - thank you Australia - it’s been a blast!