A Travellerspoint blog

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

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Since arriving to Australia three months ago, we've had an incredible introduction to this wonderful country and her people, and find ourselves looking forward to more. Our initial landfall in Newcastle proved a perfect welcome location, as we found great culinary and sightseeing opportunities in this historic coal shipping town. The Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club was a perfectly located marina to allow us to relax, clean up, and see it all. It's also where we met Tony a few slips down, who showed great Aussie hospitality and gave us plenty of insight into the cultural nuances that had us scratching our heads (translation of innumerable slang terms, for example). After a week at the dock, we set out north to Port Stephens at the recommendation of more than a few locals. We quickly relearned the golden rule of “never go sailing on a schedule” when our 20 mile easy day-sail turned into beating against 25kts and choppy seas. What really killed morale was when we lost an unsecured bottle of rum to the boat’s excessive healing. Dejectedly, we doused the sails and ran the engine hard to make headway against the conditions. Making Port Stephens before dark, we then spent three lovely days exploring town, walking beaches and watching the local dolphins play. With no wind to carry us, we motored back down to Newcastle and anchored right behind Knobby Head at the port entrance, for a front row seat to an incredible airshow. While thousands packed the beach and knolls to see the spectacle, we lounged in a hammock and drank beer on our yacht as Spitfires and F-15s screamed just above our mast. We dinghied over to Tony's boat at the intermission to thank him for the tip about this vantage and were yet again treated to great food and hospitality.

Photo Credit: Tony Moore
Endless dunes and choppy seas
"Dumpster Chickens"
Kookaburra sits in the ole gum tree
Catch of the day was a couple of odd shark

With calm weather and favorable tides two days later, we continued south 17nm to the formidable entrance into Lake Macquarie. We timed the river bar well on an ingoing tide and had no trouble with the sometimes treacherous conditions that develop over the shallow water where a river meets the unyielding mass of the sea. Then transiting under a lift bridge, we were escorted by the Volunteer Marine Rescue tow boat through the shallow channel that leads to the lake. It was the shallowest water we had ever attempted to traverse, but unlike the Bahama bank, we couldn't see the depth through the dark water. Despite our local pilot, we succeeded in temporarily parking Blue Moon upon the continent of Australia, drawn in as if she simply had to say hello to this new land mass. The VMR fellas quickly tossed us a line as though they had expected as much, and with a little horsepower, had us floating once again and into the sprawling 12nm long body of the lake. In the murky waters of the lake, we looked down to find we were motoring through fields of jellyfish thick enough to walk on! With countless bays indenting the perimeter of this relatively shallow lake, we could find a suitable anchorage in any conditions. Devoid of ocean swell, we often woke to find the water still as a mill pond, which was oddly disconcerting to us after being in constant motion for so many months. We toured many of the parks and small towns over the next few weeks, enjoyed beautiful “champagne sailing”, watched wallabys hop along shore, and tried to catch fish bigger than minnows, happy to stay as long as we felt intrigued. While tied to one of the numerous free public moorings, we experienced the highest wind speed we ever had or wish to see again. As a thunderstorm rolled in off the warm land, it converged with the cool sea air and produced 64kt (73mph) sheer winds that wracked us for what felt like hours, but was only a handful or agonizing minutes. As the boat bucked and heeled over 30 degrees, our dinghy, tied alongside, was lifted to almost vertical and by the narrowest margin avoided capsizing. It was impossible to do anything but watch; even exiting the cockpit when the wind was building at 40kts was difficult, and the driving rain too painful to look at. Fortune favored us yet again and the mooring held us firmly until the tempest subsided.


Upon leaving the lake, we timed the tide a bit better and kept water beneath the keel the entire time. Heading south, we made 30 miles, half of which were glorious downwind sailing once the breeze filled in. Just outside of Broken Bay we were escorted by dolphins and even hooked up with our first fish while trolling since Fiji! Two Tailor made a delicious grilled meal that night as we sat comfortably in well-protected Hardy’s Bay. While there, we were able to get in touch with another young sailing couple we had met long ago in the Caribbean. Renee and Travis, now land based, happened to live near enough to make a rendezvous for drinks possible. Little did we know that this casual meeting to talk about mutual friends and sea stories would lead to us attending their Christmas pig roast, and them joining us onboard for NYE in Sydney! But before all that, we spent two weeks exploring the endless natural waterways in Cowan creek, Hawkesbury river, and Pittwater, all connected to the ocean at Broken Bay. Between hikes along the bluffs, beach days, seeing our first kangaroos, and meeting more great people (one an ex-Wisconsinite who brought us beers!), we enjoyed our time to the fullest while also planning our next moves. On Dec 23rd, we traveled up the Brisbane Waters channel, then along a tiny creek to reach Davistown and moor the boat steps away from our new friends. Travis and Renee picked us up the next day and took us on a full tour of the beaches and bluffs in the nearby area where they live. Come late afternoon, we found ourselves enjoying great company with their friends and extended family at the Christmas eve party. What we thought would be a casual barbeque soon turned into us representing the USA in beer pong (admirably, it should be noted). Somehow, we found ourselves with five new friends and a dog watching the Christmas Day sunrise from the decks of Blue Moon. Instead of waking up to find coal in our stockings, we knew we'd made the naughty list by the weight of our hangovers when we rolled out of bed late in the morning. Undaunted, we stuck to the plan and used the calm weather that day to motor the long 20nm down to Port Jackson - better known as Sydney harbor.


The following morning, feeling better, we found ourselves in a great location to witness the Boxing Day tradition of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race start. The harbor was alive with racers and spectators covering every inch of water. From small cruiser sailboats like ours to 100ft Maxis, all 100+ boats would set out on the 630nm race through some of the world's toughest waters. Australia boasts a strong sailing culture, with every bay packed full of moorings, frequent club races, and kids camps everywhere. In fact, with so many local sailors, we barely ran into any other international cruisers. When the hubbub in the harbor subsided in the following days, we set out exploring, transiting beneath the harbor bridge, past the towering skyscrapers that make up downtown. Two days before New Year's Eve, we anchored in the bay beside the iconic Opera House to stake out a front row seat for the world class New Year's fireworks show. It wasn't long before the shorelines and bay around us were jam packed with people and boats, and we had our hands full to make sure careless captains didn't drift into us. The 9pm and midnight fireworks and lighted boat parade were nothing short of spectacular, seeming to surround us on every side. The best part, however, was that four of our new Aussie friends came down to join us for an incredible party on board that lasted until the sun rose on 2024.


Watching the ambitious faction of the population jogging along shore the next morning, we weren't sure whether to pity them and their resolutions, or our own selves for the hangovers that hadn't yet fully taken hold. A quick dive off the boat to start the day gave us just enough focus to get our guests to shore and move Blue Moon away from downtown to a quiet recovery place. We spent the following weeks exploring the many coves and rivers connected to Sydney harbor, visiting endless ocean beaches, and generally relaxing in the comfortable summer climate. Time had seemingly melted away since arriving in the Land Down Under, and we were suddenly nearing the end of our three month visas. With so much more to see, we elected for the easy exit strategy and booked a two week flight to New Zealand, which would reset our three month clock upon return. The morning after watching the harbor come alive again in celebration of Australia Day, we put our bags in the dinghy and bid farewell to Blue Moon until our second Aussie chapter begins.

"Australian Possum" hold the "O"

Posted by BlueMoonSailing 23:21 Archived in Australia

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Such a fun and fabulous narration of your first 3-month segment in Australia! From the humor of losing the bottle of rum and rough mornings-after from celebrations to the descriptions of yet more adventures was very entertaining! New animals, friends, and scenery certainly fill your days and keep things exciting. So wonderful and interesting to read!

by Lisa Straw

Your pictures and narrative are amazing. Australia looks and sounds like a beautiful place. It's easy to see why you want to spend more time there. You are so lucky to be experiencing the world as you are. I look forward to your blogs. Safe travels!

by Laurie Shavlik

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by 10khandelwal

What a wonderful way to experience such a beautiful continent! New Zealand will be awesome as well. Enjoy!

by Kelley

Your stories of experiences at sea are amazing and outstanding. Thank you for bringing this to life as we follow you along your incredible and at times resilient journeys. Enjoy all that is to come.


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