Scorpio in Australia
From Bundaberg to Sydney

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Our stay in the Bundaberg region lasted three weeks, partly because of the time it took for me to repair the corrosion around the gooseneck, and after that due to weather conditions. Those technically enclined may like to have a look at the details of the repair at this LINK.
In the "work shop"
How will this end?
For the duration of the repairs we stayed at anchor in the river near Burnett Heads, on a convenient short walking distance from a welding fabrication shop, where I had some modifications done to the fittings. As one can judge from the photo below to the left, you could get stuck in worse surroundings! From our decks we could even spot some kangoroos.
Our anchorage during the repairs
First pelicans since the Galapagos
In Australia we saw pelicans for the first time since the Galapagos islands. For some reason this bird, which is ubiquitous all over the Americas can not be found between Galapagos and Australia - at least we didn't. Not even in New Zealand. The pelicans here in Oz are not the brown ones that we've seen before, but the "real" one - white with a long beak, precisely á la Disney.
Bryan on sv Bingo
Bingo's old diesel heading for the junk yard
In Bundaberg our paths crossed again with the Californian sailing vessel Bingo, now with Bryan as sole owner. We hadn't seen him since French Polynesia in 2006. Bingo was now on the hard and Bryan was replacing the old diesel with a new Yanmar.
Celebrating our first grand child
The cigar is actually a salami stick
A typical anchorage in Sandy Strait
Finally our repairs were done and when we got a brief weather window we left Burnett heads and crossed over Hervey Bay to the Sandy Strait. The strait is a shallow waterway between the mainland and Fraser Island, which is said to be the largest sand island in the world. After two day trips through the Sandy Strait we entered the ocean at Wide Bay and sailed down the east coast of Queensland to Mooloolaba. This is a tourist crowded strech of the Sunshine Coast with long sandy beaches and good surfing waves. The place reminded us a lot of Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
This koala liked to be patted on it's back.
As we again had to wait for weather in Mooloolaba, we tok the opportunity to visit The Australian Zoo, established by the Irwin family. Steve Irwin, nicknamed "The Crocodile Hunter", was an iconic Australian television personality, wildlife expert, and conservationist. He achieved world-wide fame from the television program The Crocodile Hunter, an internationally broadcast wildlife documentary series co-hosted with his wife Terri Irwin. He died in 2006 after his chest was fatally pierced by a stingray barb whilst filming in Australia's Great Barrier Reef (this last part from Wikipedia).
Steve Irwin and family
This kangoroo didn't mind my scratching her behind the ears.
Many of the animals are quite fearless and let you come close and sometimes even agree to be touched.
A Kookaburra Kingfisher
Dramatic scenery
Our plan was originally to spend Christmas in Sydney, but the weather was not very accommodating, with either strong southerly winds (right on the nose) our foul weather including a lot of thunderstorms, especially in the Brisbane area. Many of the places where we stopped are bases for shrimping trawlers and we really had our fills of seafood on this trip.
The pelicans could be hand fed, but they were too quick for Malla on the camera. On the photo below to the left, the closest pelican has just gulped the scrap of a cleaned fish.
These guys live to eat!
This sign is not from the local pub.
The coast is an open roadstead and one has to go into one of the rivers every time one wishes to anchor. The problem with this is that most rivers have a shallow bar just outside the entrance, in mid channel, where the waves break. This can be very dangerous and crossing the bar should be avoided when an outgoing tide meets the prevailing swell and waves. See the warnings on the sign above right (click for larger photo). It is often more than 50 miles from one river to the next and the need for timing a bar crossing adds to the difficulty when being on a schedule.
Clarence River entrance (click for better resolution)

On the photo above you can see the entrance to the Clarence River. After entering we anchored near the trawler harbour of Iluka, which was a pleasant surprise: a well protected anchorage and a short walk to all services, with no tourists in sight.

Camden Haven River entrance
Camden Haven from North Brother mountain
From the Clarence River we again sailed one overnighter to Camden Haven, where we went up the river to Lauriton. This is an other low key place, and as the weather forecast predicted southerly winds (right on the nose) where we decided to stay for Christmas. We were apparently the only non local boat and we anchored just outside the dock of the United Servicemens Club, where we were allowed to use their visiting yachts amenities for no charge.
Anchored in Lauriton, Camden Haven River.
Merry Christmas
Early in the morning of December 26, Boxing Day, we took the advantage of a short weather window and sailed the remaining 190 nautical miles to Sydney, or Port Jackson, which is the geographical name of Sydney Harbour. We enjoyed a comfortable sail downwind under starry skies, but the last three hours were a bit nervy in thick fog. Approaching a major city and a narrow entrance in 50 metres visibility calls for some vigilance.
Australia is larger than Europe
First photo from Sydney.

We finally entered Sydney Harbour safely and dropped the anchor in Rose Bay. Next morning, December 28, when the skies had cleared we sailed past the Opera House and Sydney Bridge and snapped the compulsory photographs.
And there's more to come - no doubt!

See video: Sydney Harbour - First Impressions.

The contour of Australia superimposed over Europe shows the giant size of this big Island. I will return to this discussion later when we decide whether to leave the Australian continent to starboard or to port.

Two days before New Years Eve we dropped our anchor in Double Bay, where we would be in a good spot to enjoy the New Year's Eve fireworks. Jump to the next report to view some spectacular photos of that event.