Bundaberg, tuna and beach barbecues. 27June2010

Well we finally seem to have arrived to the warm weather!  It’s sunny, warm, the sky is blue, the sea is calm but there is no wind and we are motoring, ah well, you can’t have everything.  At this juncture we are at sea about 20 miles north of Great Keppel Island (referred to by the locals as and henceforth known as ‘GKI’) headed for maybe an overnight run or maybe not, just depends on how we feel later.

We got away from the Great Sandy Strait as planned on the 23rd and slipped into the ‘Port of Bundaberg’ marina just inside Burnett Heads at 1715 and just before dark.  The 50 mile run up was uneventful with not much of the dire weather and wind that the local weather gods were promising and the crew were most interested in the dolphins and big turtle that were loitering around the entrance to the river.  The idea here was to drop off Zoe (headed home), get some food, fuel and diesel and slip away the next day for GKI.  Zoe had finally decided that boats and she are not a great mix (at least in rough water) so she was taking Horatio Nelsen’s advice and finding a tree to sit under.  The weather when we arrived at Burnett Heads was of course crap and proceeded to get worse, cold and lots of rain.  We decided food on board was the best option (there not really being a lot of places to eat out in Burnett Heads) but we did think a drink at the ‘Blue Water Club’ in the Burnett Heads Boat Harbour might be the go.  The ‘Blue Water Club’ is something of a social club catering to fishing type people and they also do all the sporty type stuff like darts, pool competitions etc.  Alas, the man on the phone told us that he was about to close the bar but in the spirit of boaty type welcomes to town he asked if the courtesy bus from the pub might come and get us.  It seems that to encourage people to come to the pub, the manager (Brian) runs a courtesy bus so that the locals need not worry about getting plastered and then driving; they just get wasted and get driven home, excellent.  Interesting pub this one, pokies, televisions to accommodate gambling, very drunk fishermen and much to David’s consternation, a round pool table, very interesting concept that one!  Anyway we accepted with some gratitude the pick up and welcome at the pub and stayed till stumps watching world cup soccer on one of the big screens.  We did also get waylaid by ‘Kelly’ of ‘Kelly’s Catch’, (the proprietor of the fish and chip shop at the marina) a very drunk Kelly actually, who was firmly convinced we had indulged in lunch at her shop earlier that day and was outspoken in her disbelief that we hadn’t been about.  The next day of course she didn’t recognise any of us.

The next day bright and early we sorted out our ride into the big smoke on the marina courtesy bus (they love these things here it seems, fabulous) and went in search of a nights accommodation for Zoe.  Can you believe it, they don’t allow Australians to stay at the local backpackers?  It seems the demand for dormitory style beds in Bundaberg is so high that only those with an overseas passport can stay there, quite astounding really given the complete absence of much to see or do in this part of the world; although it does have what would have to be some of the biggest sugar storage sheds ever built.  We decided the passport story was actually rubbish and it was more likely that the obnoxious woman who spun us the passport nonsense just couldn’t be bothered getting out her chair and setting aside her cigarette and book, to quote Gini, the ‘Pig’! Anyway off we went to the ‘Grand Hotel’ where the welcome was much more inviting so we had a few drinks and Zoe sorted out her digs for the evening.  Then while the skipper went looking for a new Ipod (the old one apparently dead) and Dave went looking for a new phone, the rest of the Gadfly’s went to see the sights with the intention to meet an hour before our bus ride back to get more food.  Dave’s phone got rather wet during his swanning about on Fraser Island and the Ipod just gave up the ghost for all of it’s own reasons.  Tin’s camera has also gone to God after she took it swimming.  When headed ashore on Fraser Island she put the camera in her pocket and then threw herself in the water, ‘I think l am going to fall…..’. After the shop it was big hugs for Zoe and onto the 1235 bus for the marina and plans to get away ASAP.  That was until we looked at the weather and decided later in the evening would be the go and when the marina people told us that we were up for two nights anyway as we hadn’t checked out by 1000 (can you believe it) we decided to go in the morning. So we had a laid back afternoon chatting to other boaty types, a Canadian couple headed for Darwin and the Indo rally and then along came David Tuff and Rose on the good ship ‘Quinco’, like the Gadfly out of Royal Melbourne and now firmly ensconced in the warmer world of Queensland.  We had previously caught up with the Quinco’s in the Great Sandy Strait so it was good to see them again and the skipper went to grab their lines and talk boats.

From Burnett Heads to GKI is about 130 miles requiring a night on the water doing the watch-keeping thing but getting there early in the morning means we were able to chill for the day and then sleep before moving on.  The big highlight for the day after leaving was a sizable yellowfin tuna that suicided by leaping on the new lure that our angling veterinarian had deployed over our transom.  Bit annoying in some respects though as it interrupted the film that the skipper, Gini and Leif were watching on the sometime chart-plotter!  We decided tuna for lunch might be the go at this point so while the veterinarian was cleaning the fish the rest of us sorted rice, salad and wasabe.  All a bit arkward though as the boat at this point was rolling like the proverbial pig in shite but the fish was nice with great slabs still in the fridge. Next morning bright and early GKI hove out of the morning light and we slipped around the top to anchor off Second Beach.  There was still at this point a fair bit of wind coming out of the SE but in the afternoon this dropped out and we were left with sand, sun and chill out time.  Dave went walking, Gini laid on a hammock and went swimming, Leif attempted to get sunburnt, Tin went in search of coconuts and the skipper chatted to the other boaties that were either anchored or dribbled in over the course of the day.  One of these was ‘Wolfgang’, who has been travelling the world on a 50 foot motor boat with his wife, they carry 5000 litres of fuel that gives them 4000 miles range.  Another was ‘Jill Knight’ who lives on her 37 foot Cooee with her cat and is well known in the Aus cruising world producing an ongoing stream of articles for sailing magazines. In the afternoon we decided that a BBQ on the beach was the go so the skipper, Gini and Leif sorted sorted the BBQ requirements and we headed in equipped with beer, wine, sausages and tuna.  After the food we kept the fire going under the ‘Float Tree’ until when basically out of drink we loaded up the dinghy and picked our way out between the bobbing anchor lights.  When we arrived there were four boats in the anchorage, when we went back to the boat there were sixteen.

Great place for a visit GKI was and nice to have been able to do the beach thing for the day.  One of the things we did discover when chatting to the more local of the boaties is the possibility of development of the island.  It seems a developer who bought up the two resorts on the western side of the island can’t make the existing infrastructure work for him and has significant plans for the place involving as much development as he can get away with (initially a much bigger resort, 5000 villa units and yet another boat marina).  The local aboriginals however have other ideas, the less development oriented and majority thereof of locals aren’t all that well disposed to the idea and it seems the Government is not exactly on-side with the scale of the whole thing.  It would be a pity to see the place go the way of the Gold Coast!

Anyway here we are now off ‘Cape Manifold’, 29 miles north of the float tree and pondering moving on or having another sleep!  The plan is to move as quickly as we can up to the Whitsundays hopefully for more beaches, sun and BBQ’s, but they are about 200 miles north of here.  More later as it happens. Cheers from the Gadfly.

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