Past the Biggest Sand Island In the World

With a new crew member on board, we were keen to get an early start and make our way down the 40nm strait that runs between the mainland and Fraser Island, the biggest sand island going. The strait twists and turns through a myriad of channels getting down to 3m at times (and that was with a 1.5m tide) – I wouldn’t like to attempt this at low tide. We’d timed the tides right and got a knot and a half of current right through the whole way. We started on a flood tide pushing us south into the channel and finished with an ebb tide sucking us out – got to love that.

Along the way we passed Kingfisher Resort, which has a nice anchorage out the front, but didn’t stop. Our destination was Pelican Bay down the bottom of the strait, which set us up quite well to get out over wide bay bar the next day.

After a lovely day motoring on flat water, with a bit of a sail at the end, we dropped anchor in Pelican Bay and took the dingy around to the beach at Inskip Point. We had a lovely long walk along the beach, taking a couple of hours to get back to the dingy. Along the way we past the car ferry that runs across to the bottom of Fraser Island and lots of keen fishermen trying their luck off the beach. There’s a huge camping ground running just behind the beach for ages, and lots of 4WDs driving along a lovely wide beach. There were a few people swimming and Phil and I jumped in and had a swim on the way back.

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Hervey Bay

With 72nm to go to Hervey Bay, we were up early. As predicted, pulling 100m of anchor from 20m down below was not fun, but in the end we managed to get it up and off we went.

It turned out to be a lovely motor sail across a flat ocean. We were out of sight of land for most of the way until we sighted the top of Fraser Island off our port side. Cas, in her smokers position on the side of the boat took the prize for seeing the most wide life, including a rather large shark with a freshly caught something in its mouth. Cas was just impressed that the “something” wasn’t her arm as it dangled over the side of the boat.

As we got closer to Urangan, where the marina was, it progressively got shallower, until we got to the sand banks where we needed to follow the channel down to  Urangan. Along the way we passed a couple of Army landing craft with some trucks on board.

Safely tucked up in the marina next to a helpful live aboard couple with two cute dogs on board, we headed up for a meal at the Café at the marina to celebrate a great week of cruising with Kim, Jane and Cas. All three were hopping on planes to head off home. As Cas left, Phil rocked up to take their place. After some shopping and a good nights sleep we were off through Sandy Straits.

The Other Woman

After leaving Lady Musgrave Island, we headed off to The other lady – Lady Elliot. Although not the best anchorage in the world, it got us 20nm closer to Hervey Bay, which we needed to do so we could make it the next day. AND it had a BAR!!! Something required to complete Kim’s island hopping experience.

The sail around the back of Lady Musgrave was spectacular – watching the waves crash across the reef and into the lagoon. It didn’t take us long to cover the 21nm to Lady Elliot and we were soon ready to anchor. Allan Lucas’ cruising guide is a bit out of date as you can no longer anchor in 7m of water as this is now a no anchor zone. We eventually found somewhere out a bit in 20m of water and down the anchor went. It kept going down and down as the anchor windlass completely gave up the ghost and dropped the whole 100m of chain. Pulling that up manually from 20m down was going to be fun.

Very safely anchored up, we headed for shore over reefs with colorful parrot fish feeding in the shallows. We had to walk to the other side of the island to find the resort (and the bar) through hundreds and hundreds of nesting birds, whizzing round our heads as they collected nesting material. It seemed that a leave was a highly valued piece of building material way out here.

Just before the resort we had to cross the airfield, which was a combination of grass and coral – it’s got to be the first airfield ever that I’ve seen with the sprinklers on being watered.

After calling in at reception, we made our way to one of the most scenic bars you could ever imagine. It looked out over the beach and the coral reef, which was beautifully colored by the setting sun. The resort itself looked wonderfully relaxed, a combination of divers, families and quite a few of the younger crowd.

And then there were the seabirds nesting everywhere. The resort had put out cones in places to stop people walking over nests that were right in the middle of a path. There were quite a few chicks around – some wandering around looking lost.

After having our drink and watching the sun go down, we had a quick walk along the beach to see the full moon come up and then back to our rather rolly anchorage for the night.

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