Whomever decided to call it ‘The Sunshine Coast’ were obviously having a laugh at our expense. Since we’ve been here we’ve had clouds (big dark ones), and lots and LOTS of wet stuff, but no sign of that large yellow thing in the sky. Ain’t no sunshine here, sunshine.
On the positive side, Garry’s Anchorage is very well-protected so we enjoy some enforced boat-time over the rainy Easter weekend. Well, as quiet as it can be with over 18 boats crammed into this very small space. Most people on the water are considerate about others’ needs for privacy and quiet, but Easter brings a special class of weekend warriors – when a powerboat named “Happy Hour” drops their anchor almost on top of us we groan inwardly and expect the worst. And it’s pretty bad – the final straw is when they dinghy over to a neighbouring boat for drinks, but leave their stereo system on full blast so they can enjoy it from the other boat. I admit there were times in my younger years when a little bit of Neil Diamond was OK, but “Song Sung Blue’ takes on a whole different meaning now as we swear and curse and stand on the foredeck with arms akimbo (bitch wings, they call them!) staring them down. Finally they get the hint….sorry Neil, but I’ve fallen out of love with you.
The good thing about party boats is that they’re usually very quiet in the mornings, which is my favourite time to have a cup of tea in the cockpit (if it’s not raining) and contemplate the serenity. Easter Monday is one such morning, until the stillness is pierced by the howl of a dingo not far away. Only yesterday I’d heard the news of a toddler being dragged from the family’s campervan by a dingo here on Fraser Island, so the sound puts a chill through me (the toddler survived, unlike poor little Azaria Chamberlain all those years ago at Ayers Rock). Another howl, closer still. I scan the beach and there he is, trotting purposefully down the far end of the beach looking deceptively domesticated. It’s a sombre reminder that Australia’s a wild and untamed land.
From Garry’s Anchorage we motor further north along the inside of Fraser, to Kingfisher Bay resort. Finally the rain eases and we have the opportunity to go ashore and meet up with the crews of “L’Attitudes” and “Hollydaze”, who we’ve been communicating with since Southport. It turns out Bruce and Tony from “L’Attitudes” know each other from their past diving days – it’s a small world! The Resort (unlike many) is ’yachtie friendly’, so we take advantage of their hot showers and enjoy a meal and a catch-up at the bistro – it’s a fun night.
We’re getting low on food supplies, so our next stop is Bundaberg, across Hervey Bay. Last time we were here we tied up in the marina, but now we’re effectively two boats it’s too expensive. Instead we anchor past the commercial port and then next morning head down the long, winding (and shallow) river on the rising tide. And guess what, it’s raining again….
Bundaberg’s an interesting country town, everyone is very friendly but there seems to be an over-representation of pawn shops, barbershops and legal services. And not the place to be on a Saturday night if you want a good night’s sleep – the local pub blasted out a selection of country rock (think Shania Twain and her ilk) until 3a.m.…no amount of burying my head in the pillow could drown it out. Noise-cancelling headphones might be top of tomorrow’s shopping list.
We successfully empty our pockets and fill our food stores, replenish our fishing lures and chat with other cruisers at the public dinghy dock. Rob and Lauren from “Southern Comfort” invite us for sundowners on our last night here. Rob lived and worked in PNG for many years and has a wealth of very useful information to impart about the outer islands. As we discovered on our previous travels, it’s the people you meet and the connections you make that are the most interesting and rewarding aspects of this cruising life.