Great one day swimming to get home the next
The journey from Pittwater to the true Queensland “Coral Coast” is long. Departing at the tail end of autumn, as we did on May 16, it takes quite a few ocean miles before arriving at an island that delivers warm weather and the picture postcard ideal. Mind you there are many memorable spots along the way, but we had to get past Bundaberg before reaching an island that delivered the complete tropical promise of warm balmy breezes, crystal clear water, deserted white beaches and a killer sunset.
On June 10 we arrived, in company with the yachts Novae and Isabella, at the beautiful Great Keppel Island and the tropical promise was perfectly fulfilled
We departed early from Pancake Creek to GKI and the journey was slow. After motoring much of the way north - due to calm wind/no wind/wind from the wrong direction – George announced we were having a “no diesel” day and our sailing companions pledged the same. We (I) endured hours of just barely moving under the MPS in 6-7 knots of wind then, finally, the captain was convinced to turn on the engine. Isabella had already given up trying to sail and Novae, a catamaran, was doing OK with the help of one engine. Both were way ahead of us. After 10 hours Southern Belle rounded Middle Island and aimed for Svendsen’s Beach where we quickly dropped anchor and joined the others for well-deserved sundowners.
The Island beach was perfect, just what we were looking forward to! Even though there were other boats in the bay we were the only ones on the sand. Looking to the west and at a spectacular sunset we decided to all rise early the next morning, take the bushwalk into the island’s interior and hopefully have lunch at the resort.
Next morning Peter and Debbie, Novae’s crew, offered their dingy as transport to the beach and we joined the walk just past the landmark tree hanging with colourful fishing buoys. The path turned out to be a well-worn rut, rock and gravel route ... enjoyable and easy to follow up and down hills, across dry creek beds and around shallow tidal lakes. It was hot in the interior and, as the morning progressed, the little biting midges were becoming voracious in appetite.
After 2 hours, and with the bush track turning upwards towards even steeper hills, we decided to take a side path towards the beach believing we could simply walk along the cooler sand back to the dingy. We thought the beach was a long uninterrupted stretch of sand … unfortunately it isn’t … and we came to a dead end. Barring the way was the deep and fast flowing Leeke’s Creek.
For a while six hot, tired and bug ravaged yachties discussed the situation. We could go back the way we came … “too far, too hot and too many bugs”. Or, we could all swim across … “some of us are not good swimmers so could be dangerous”. Or, we could hope for another dingy to come by … “not likely”. There was nothing else for it, Peter and George volunteered to brave the swift water and swim across. There was comic relief as we watched George carefully tie his shoes and t-shirt around his neck only to have them thoroughly soaked as the water around him got deeper and deeper. Peter, on the other hand, perfected a one-handed swimming style while keeping his shirt dry-ish perched on top of his head and holding his shoes aloft. They made it across what we all thought was the only obstacle only to find they had to also climb over two rocky headlands and cross a stretch of beach before collecting the dingy and returning exhausted and much later than expected for the rest of us!
Back on board our boats lunch was quick followed by naps all round. We all had a memorable adventure on our first perfect tropical island, plus a good laugh about it over sundowners and another superb sunset that night.