Monday, August 29, 2011

Townsville to Dunk Island (23rd - 30th August)

We ended up spending an extra day in Townsville as the forecast was not so promising which meant we were able to catch up with John & Bev Waugh from SBSC and joined them for dinner at the recently redeveloped Townsville Yacht Club.  It was great to hear of their adventures and compare notes.

Strange Whale Behaviour
We ended up leaving Townsville on Tuesday morning and decided to head directly to Orpheus Island and had a lovely days sail in light trade winds.  The day was quite eventful as we had many close up whale sightings as we approached Pioneer Bay at Orpheus.  The first encounter was a whale breaching at the back of the boat (only around 10 meters away). The second was watching a whale that appeared to be doing headstands in the bay for the rest of the afternoon -must look up google to check out the reason for this strange behaviour although we are pretty sure it must have something to do with the young calf that was sticking close by.  The next morning and the encounters continues - we were down stairs having our normal quiet breakfast only to be disturbed by some strange noises outside - when we looked out the companion way we had a whale again at the back of the boat and slowly made his way down the side of the hull.  We have attached the photo we managed to take not that it is very good but it does give you and idea of how close it was. 

Our Close Encounter

Hinchinbrook Island
After all the excitement and interactions with the wildlife we left Pioneer Bay on our way over to Lucinda which is the southern entrance to Hinchinbrook Channel and has to be crossed with tide as it is quite shallow.  We dropped the anchor at a little spot next to Haycock Island in the pristine wilderness that is Hinchinbrook.  We haven't mentioned it yet but they have a military base at Townsville and we have been watching the F18's doing their stuff on a regular basis and today we got to see them up real close and personal as they did a drive by down the Hinchinbrook Channel at what seemed not much higher than mast height - the noise was quite deafening and the serenity was no more!!.  We thought we would try out a bit more wilderness and spent Thursday night in Paluma Creek.  There is not a lot in Paluma Creek except lots on mangroves and a fair share of sand flies - luckily we have very good fly screens on Sally but sun downers were had down stairs!
Our First Loaf
Friday morning and we are off to Cape Richards but decide to stop into Cardwell on the way.  The beach off Cardwell is quite shallow which means we end up parking around 2NM off shore - this is quite a hike when you are in a little inflatable with a 3.3HP motor but we did make it and managed to find some flour so we could have a go at some bread making.  We got to Cape Richards and decide to drop anchor at Macushla Bay for the night.  Next morning we head ashore hoping to find the walk we did in 2003 over to the other side of the island and also up to the Cape Richards Resort but with no luck and we figure that the effects of Yasi have covered the old trail.  We wander up to the anchor off the old Cape Richards Resort which has now shut down (another victim of the GFC) but this time we were waved off the beach by some of the local folk but not really quite sure what they were doing there anyway - all very suspicious.

By this stage we were a bit over Cape Richards as we were really hoping to go ashore for some walking so Sunday morning we head off to another old favorite - Dunk Island.  We have heard that the resort was smashed by Yasi and it now looks like they may not reopen as they can no longer get insurance which is a bit sad as it was such a wonderful place to visit.  On arrival we can confirm that the resort and island has really taking a pounding from Yasi although the vegetation is already showing good signs of recovery.  Luckily Parks are doing quite a bit of work here and are clearing the walking trails and fixing up the camping ground which is fantastic.  Monday morning we pack our stuff and head off and see how we far can go on the island circuit walk.  We figure we got half way around the island before we came to the end of the clearing works so we wandered back along our tracks and up to the lookout at Mt Kootaloo for a spot of lunch.  On the way back we run into the workmen that are clearing the trails and they confirm that in time the rest of the walk will be opened which is excellent news as it really is a lovely walk..  Apparently they are running a triathlon here on the 11th September hence the rush to get the track open and safe.

Dunk Island Resort - Post Yasi

We have run into a few old friends here at Dunk as it is a popular anchorage so their has been plenty of socialising both on the beach and also on the aft deck.

Today (Wednesday) we are going to try the other end of the walk which takes us up past the airport and up past the artist colony but somehow don't think we will get too far but will have a go.

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