Where are we

Thursday 23 November 2023

East Coast Australia - the furtherest west for Larus thus far.

Yes, we are in Australia and arrived in Bundaberg after a one easiest passages we’ve had in a long time. Not only did we have good wind strength and direction but Tim was experimenting with the current information available on PredictWind, one of the weather and routing apps we use.

Artist’s impression of our route.

The rhumb line (shortest distance between two points) was only about 40 miles more than our actual track.

Tim chose our route to avoid adverse currents and it worked well. There were times of no current or, even better, a positive current but the times when the current was against us was infrequent. Our boat speed was  noticed and we were called up by ‘Escapade’ asking why we were going so much faster than they were. Tim pointed them in the right direction for a favourable current and in time they overtook us. They are a much bigger boat so we were not surprised or overly put out.

Anchored across the river from the the marina waiting for instructions from the marina to clear in with Customs, Immigration and BioSecurity.

While we waited we mulled over the strange golden particles flowing past us in the tide.  
Much later I collared a local fishing on the waterfront and asked if he knew what it was, and the answer was ‘Crab spawn’.  We see it lots and often.

The marina, built on the river bank, was very exposed to the tides and river currents. Add a bit of ‘wind over tide’ and the movement of the Larus in her berth became unnatural and uncomfortable. Time spent reading or writing in particular was prone to sudden bouts of headache and sleepiness.  We don’t usually suffer from motion sickness so it took a long time to figure out what was wrong as the conditions that caused it would disappear with a change or tide or wind direction.

We try to make any boat moves at slack water as a knot or two of cross current can make coming into a berth trickier. When arriving to clear in, all crew MUST remain onboard and marina staff would to take our lines.  Tim had to come in fast as the current into the berth was against us.  Larus has a big prop and a skilful skipper and burst of astern will stop us in our tracks.  None of this was apparent to the guy on the dock waiting to take our lines.  He took the bowline and used it as a spring line, which stopped us from going forward but pulled the bow in toward the jetty which in turn caused our stern to swing out toward the boat beside us. To avert a collision, I stepped off the boat saying said, ‘I know I’m not supposed to but I’m doing it anyway’, and dropped out stern line on cleat and hopped back on board.  The guy helping looked quickly about but the transgression hadn’t been spotted and all was well.

While we waited to clear in, we decided we needed a second bow line on the port side as the current was pushing us hard on the jetty. We had a line with a loop in the end to drop on a cleat and asked a passing customs agent if they could, ‘please drop this loop over that cleat.’ No they could not as Health and Safety Rules prohibited it, but they could authorise us to get off the boat and put it on ourselves.  Of course there are reasons for this, but it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen this level of bureaucracy.

I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how to write about Bundaberg and the tiny amount of Queensland/Australia that we’ve seen so far. In some ways it’s quite familiar, yet in other ways very different.

There are areas of Canada and the US that can be dusty dry as well flat as a pancake, but our hills aren’t the tops of extinct volcanoes and the soil isn’t a dark copper colour. 

A photo I found online as we only saw the fields out of the window of a bus.

There are strip malls, shopping malls, and quite good public transit. Fields between the towns looked like corn from a distance but are actually sugar cane up close.  Rows of trees that we guessed were young olive or citrus fruit turned out to be macadamia trees. Even here, where they are grown, macadamia nuts are really expensive.

In Bundaberg and Maryborough, (the only towns we’ve visited so far) the buildings and grid layout of the streets feels like some of the historic towns where I’m from in Ontario. Pretty buildings and shops built of brick with brick-a-brack trim are similar but, to my mind, of a bigger and more solid design.

The finest of the many water towers found in and around Bundaberg. The water towers in smaller dispersed towns is very like areas of Southwestern Ontario.

Typical city architecture with wide roads. 

The drivers here are really considerate onto pedestrians.  A quick side-glance at a crosswalk will bring cars to a halt, even those that could have sped up and been across before your foot hit the road.  After 4 years in NZ, where most drivers won’t give a pedestrian an inch, it is a very nice change.

While we got to Bundaberg by bus, getting to Maryborough was a long windy trip up the Mary River.

Guess who the town and the river were named after?

P.L. Travers and there is a wonderful photo of her in the link.

The Australian/British author of ‘Mary Poppins’is a very BIG deal here.

When we first saw the surprisingly tall piles supporting the Marybourough dock, we thought, ‘Surely they don’t get water levels that high.’

You can just see the top half of the piles in the upper right corner of the photo. The highest recorded flood was in 1893.  I couldn’t find the height of the piles but the most recent flood, Maryborough floods February 2022, peaked at 10.7 metres. Half of the flood events recorded were within the last 30 years.

‘We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.’

My first real sight of a kangaroo was on a 4 AM trip the marina bathrooms. The tough hardy grass is automatically watered during the night. This suits the kangaroos perfectly and explains the un-doglike poop we see everywhere. The Kangaroo looked at me and I looked at it and then it disappeared into the darkness.  I mentioned the meeting to a local who asked if I’d approached it. I had not and they said, ‘Good’, as a buck kangaroo could take offence and have a go at you with its sharp front paws.

Queensland doesn’t do Daylight Saving Time and sunrise is just a little after 4 in the morning.  I am a slave to my Circadian Rhythms, but still find it odd that I’ve been up for 4 hours by 8 o’clock in the morning. Tim isn’t bothered as much as I am.

Yikes! I just heard the harshest bird call and assumed a gull with a sore throat was perched in our rigging.

It was a White Cockatoo. 

Parrots can be really noisy. We were anchored near a beach where a large number of parrots came to roost at dusk. At the same time a thunder storm rolled in and the parrots were not impressed. They screamed and screamed until the system passed.

I’ve seen rose breasted galahs grazing on fallen fruit, white cockatoos flying overhead and lorikeets, I think, as flashes of colour in the trees. I’m hoping for some good photos but for the time being you best see them here - Australia’s Wonderful Birds.

I was quite disappointed to find that this scruffy garbage scavenging bird is a White Ibis. They are everywhere.

This flashy black and white bird is a magpie.  As well as scavenging, they are very territorial and will attack people and cyclists in particular.  It’s a bad enough problem that there are warning signs in neighbourhoods and cyclists have often have a corona of cable ties sticking out of their helmets.

This type of house is called a Queenslander and is a historic design. It’s built off the ground with a wide veranda for the hot summers and wet winters. Someone we talked to mentioned it also helps keep out the creepy crawlies and snakes. 

In the town of Wynnum, near Brisbane, I passed a construction site and I suspect this wonderful gate, which does need a lot to TLC, won’t survive the build. 

We’ve had a chance to meet up with friends we’ve met all along our journey.

A fabulous barbecue roasted lamb luncheon on Cappall Mara with Sal and John and Philip and Claudia.

And one with the photographer in it.

Snacks on board Barracuda of Islay with Andrew, Claudia, Philip, Tim, Nancy, Kate, Alison and Graham.

Australia is huge. That is very like Canada and the States,and very unlike the South Pacific Islands including New Zealand.  From Bundaberg to Darwin, where we intend to leave for Indonesia next June, is almost 2,500 miles! 

The north coast Australia, even as far south as Brisbane, is in the cyclone belt so we plan to go as far south as Sydney before heading back up to Bundaberg next year in March for when the cyclone season ends. 

Tim is doing a lot of planning for when we leave Bundaberg and head north and west for the start of our trip to Indonesia. That trip will take us through the Great Barrier Reef, up to Cairns and across the top of Australia to Darwin.

Currently, we are slowly making our way south toward Sydney and tomorrow will do a short overnight sail to Iluka, the namesake of the corporate hospitality company that Tim worked for in the UK and birthplace of one of the company directors.


  1. Love the stoplights — how charming!

    1. We saw similar in Wellington, NZ. Stop was Māori warrior and Go was Māori dancer. I have a lot of NZ photos that will get posted eventually.

  2. What a beautiful water tower. And the crab spawn - - it looks like fairy dust in that picture. Lovely to see you and Tim. : ) ~ Tania

    1. Hey Tania! I think the fairy dust might turn into these - https://www.insider.com/this-is-a-carpet-of-crabs-in-australia-2016-6. It looks about the right number! X Nancy