I finally saw a freakin’ dugong! Despite being a bit fanatical about marine critters, I had previously never been in the right place and time to see a sea-cow. But my luck finally changed during an early morning paddle across to Round Island. I was paddling back to Urangan when I spotted what I first thought was a turtle. As I got closer, I realised that it was the fatty-boomsticks body of a mama dugong and a baby dugong. Anyway, mama spotted me and did a little tail flip and disappeared, but I finally saw a dugong.
After a few fantastic days anchored along the coast of Fraser Island, the wind swung around to the north, so we headed into the shelter of the Great Sandy Straits Marina in Hervey Bay. We took the opportunity to get another stack of boat chores crossed off the list: replacement of the starboard bilge pump and ancillaries; construction of storage for the water maker, generator and dive tanks; giving the spare anchor a bit of love; and cleaning out the anchor well; and catching up on paperwork (insurance, rally entry, etc). Fun times!
We wandered around a bit, checking out the sites. Hervey Bay is obsessed with whales. Everywhere you look, there are tributes to the gentle giants of the blue, which also shelter in Hervey Bay during their annual migration. It’s too early for us to see any whales (they migrate in the winter months), but in addition to the dugongs, we’ve also seen a few cheeky turtles, a spotted eagle ray, a little sea-snake, and there are some giant barramundi living under the boats in the marina. I squeezed in a bit of beach combing as well. Among my most interesting finds was a long lost dinosaur!
Hervey Bay appears a few times in Australia’s early nautical history. Captain Cook “discovered” Hervey Bay in 1770 on his way past, but he didn’t stop in, so he thought that Fraser Island was part of the mainland. In any case, he named the bay after his boss, Lord Augustus Hervey, who was an Admiral of the Blue (and a rampant lady’s man if you believe Wikipedia!). The first European to come ashore at Hervey Bay was Matthew Flinders in 1799, and he swung past again in 1802.
The overall loose plan for the first phase of the Alpha Odyssey is to slowly sail up the Queensland Coast via Fraser Island, the Southern Great Barrier Reef islands, Curtis Coast, Capricorn Coast, the Whitsundays, and the ‘ville, arriving in Cairns sometime in June. We are in no rush, in case there is a late run of cyclones this year. When we leave Hervey Bay, we’ll have my parents Juliene and Allan onboard as crew, and at this stage we are likely to head over to the northern end of Fraser Island while we wait for a good weather window to sail across to Lady Musgrave Island for a few days. So we are watching the weather forecast closely…
*shout out to Jimbo who drove up to Hervey Bay for a catch up and to my 90 yr old grandma who came to see the boat. Also to our friendly neighbours in the marina, Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours and their boat Milbi.