Boat life and cars in Coomera

Tuesday (18 August) I started catching up with the blogs and did the first part of our latest road trip in the morning whilst Richard ran the engine and flushed the bilges through. In the afternoon we headed out to get his blood tests done in Oxenford followed by a bit of shopping. It was pretty cloudy and quite a bit cooler than in Cairns so we definitely noticed the difference. Before we settled down below for the evening we did a quick check around and spotted that two boats had gone aground in the river nearby. Oops!

Wednesday I blogged again to bring us up-to-date and then it was just domestic chores like laundry and spring cleaning. Richard also did some shopping for parts eventually having to order them from the US as we weren’t able to source them in either Australia or New Zealand. Then we got a phone call from the doctor who asked Richard to come and see him. Luckily we managed to get a courtesy car for later in the afternoon so headed out to the Westfield Mall in Coomera. The GP noted that Richard’s platelets were low and he wanted to repeat the test in a week so that the latest information would be available prior to his heart clinic appointment the following week. By now it was pretty late so we stayed in the mall and had dinner at the Thai restaurant. Was a treat and absolutely fabulous food!

Thursday morning it was another early start as we headed down to Helensvale for Richard to attend the physiotherapy clinic at the local community health centre.

Dropping him off I then headed to the nearby Westfield mall to get our medication prescriptions filled. We are trying to get a good supply of medication on board so that we don’t find ourselves under pressure once we go sailing again – here in Australia the pharmacy will only give you one month’s supply per visit.

Mission accomplished I returned to pick Richard up and we were both delighted that they had signed him off as he had made such great progress. One major hurdle overcome – yay! When we got back to the boat it was blowing like stink so we just lazed around down below being buffeted and heeled over by the very strong winds. We eased the lines a couple of times to try to minimise the creaking. Definitely one of those days we were glad to be in a marina.

Friday morning we had breakfast at Garage 25 (the other cafe at the north of the boatyard) and also laundered some cushions while we have access to washing machines. As we were hoping to go sailing soon we started compiling our final boat job lists. Back on board Richard did a complete engine service including new oil and fuel filters etc. I spent the day in the cockpit online updating our Navionics charts (on both iPad and Raymarine chart plotter chip); activated a new SIM card for the Iridium Go! unit and got that all up and running (so the tracker facility is live again now on the blog which you access by following the ‘Where are we now’ button); and downloaded some routes etc. So quite a productive day and a few jobs ticked off the list.

Saturday morning there was a ‘Caffeine and Gasoline’ event at Garage 25 so we walked up there to check it out. Was the first meet since the introduction of the Covid restrictions in March and it was rammed with an interesting array of cars. There were so many that they spilled over into the boatyard (which they are not supposed to do) so the security guard was having a bit of a nightmare trying to corral them. We had coffee (plus pastries yum!) and enjoyed watching them come and go. They even laid on live music. Was great fun!

You might wonder why these petrolheads descend on Garage 25 here at The Boatworks. The Boatworks is owned and managed by Tony Longhurst who is a famous retired Australian racing driver and he has a collection of his own classic cars in a showroom behind the Garage 25 cafe. So the strong connection with a variety of car clubs here on the Gold Coast is not surprising.

On return to Morphie we did some research into various local anchorages and routes from the Beacon to Beacon pilot guide. After that we relaxed for the rest of the day.

Sunday I headed out to do more laundry while Richard finished up with the engine – swapping out the impeller and realigning the alternator. And that was it for the day.

Monday we had breakfast at the Galley then filled up our water tanks. We popped into the office to confirm all our forthcoming medical appointments and to check that we had courtesy cars booked for them all. In the afternoon I took Richard to the pathology lab again for a repeat blood test and then I went for a doctor’s appointment myself. While I was at the medical centre the hospital phoned to see if Richard could move his echocardiogram appointment from 8.30 to 7.30 on Tuesday morning. OK, no worries… Another quiet night on board.

Tuesday morning and very early we headed down the M1 to the Gold Coast University Hospital for Richard’s echocardiogram. All very efficient, running on time, and we were out of there by around 8.30 am.

We headed back to the Boatworks and had coffee and breakfast in Garage 25. Realising that we had actually booked the car until noon (just in case of delays) so I dropped Richard off and then headed back out to the mall to get a hair cut. Job done I returned the car and we had a lazy afternoon onboard. Later on Richard picked up another car so he could go to see the doctor to pick up his blood test results. I didn’t go with him this time electing instead to stay on board and cook dinner for his return.

Wednesday we had a leisurely start and picked up another car at noon to head down to Helensvale again for the heart clinic. This was the make or break appointment we had been waiting for as they would have access to Richard’s results from all the tests. The echocardiogram showed that Richard’s heart function had improved from 40% to 47% since his heart attack in April which is great news. His ECG was also showing a better rhythm and his blood pressure was good. The doctor, however, wanted to increase one of his tablets so we need to stay around for another couple of weeks while they check he can tolerate the new dosage and have further blood tests to ensure that there are no ill-effects. So very good news but a bit frustrating as we had hoped that we would be able to leave the marina next week. Never mind…..more time to get those jobs done I guess….

This morning (Thursday) Richard has headed off to Bunnings to try and get a new shower head for our solar shower while I’m bringing the blog up to date. So that’s about it for now and another week tied to a dock in the Boatworks looms. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are very grateful for the amazing medical service Richard has received here in Australia. He is feeling great and we just need to get those last bloods done and we can then head out into the river. The cyclone season is upon us soon (November to April) so we won’t be going too far north (and south is out of the question as the border with New South Wales remains closed). So we plan to just rock hop around and check out some places we’d like to see that we haven’t explored yet like the Tangalooma Wrecks anchorage which has great snorkelling apparently.

Stay safe everyone, take care. Bye for now


Exploring Queensland: Cairns to Port Douglas

Thursday morning we packed our bags and checked out of Il Palazzo. They offered to look after our bags for us, so we headed out for a 20 minute stroll to pick up our rental car. It wasn’t ready for us (we were very early) so we went off and had a coffee. On our return our Kia Sportage was ready and waiting. So we headed back to collect our bags and, once stowed, we were driving north to Port Douglas about an hour away. First though we decided to head inland to the Ross lookout to get some views over the city and airport.

Well, what we didn’t really realise, was that they were pretty much what we had seen from the train. Never mind, still beautiful. We back tracked down to the main highway and drove the coast road stopping and starting every now and again to take in the sights.

At one stage we spotted smoke in the distance but thought little of it…..until we found ourselves driving along the highway with flames from the bush fire adjacent to us! OMG didn’t expect that. I guess this was a real Australian experience. Seriously though it was pretty scary to drive so close to the flames.

Moving swiftly on we continued pulling on and of the road to take in the sights – taking note of the recent crocodile warnings on some of the beachy headlands – and then we crossed a river and I spotted wild crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks. We weren’t able to stop as the bridge was single track so missed the photo opportunity but was amazing to see them in their own domain.

Arriving into Port Douglas we found our apartment building (Mantra Aqueous on Port) and checked in. We were given keys to the underground car park so drove around the corner and parked, got in the lift and headed straight up to the top floor to our room. Well, this place was fantastic. Just the right size, fully equipped, absolutely spotless with an added bonus of a spa bath on our balcony which had views down to two of the pools. We were very happy!!!

We unpacked then went shopping in Coles for some provisions. Having secured them back in the apartment we headed out to the marina for a couple of drinks at Hemingways Brewery on the wharf. Was very nice. Then we went back to the apartment for dinner.

Friday morning we packed a picnic and headed to Four Mile Beach. Was simply stunning although the notices about crocodiles are a little off putting LOL. We had a lovely day relaxing on this empty beach – there were very few people around.

Returning to our apartment we decided to relax so had bubbles in the spa on our balcony. Fantastic!

Squeaky clean we headed back out into town and went to Anzac Park to check it out. Lots of families and couples had set up here and were just chilling over sundowners waiting for the sunset. Very nice too. And then drove up to the lookout at the top of the hill – more spectacular views.

Leaving that behind we headed back into town for a drink at the iconic Iron Bar with it’s rusty corrugated iron paying homage to the Australian outback. Very nice place but they were getting ready for dinner service so we moved on. We decided against the Irish bar across the street as it was way too busy for social distancing, so headed up the road to the Rattle and Hum pub for a final drink before going back to our apartment for dinner admiring the illuminated trees along the main drag. Very pretty. It would appear that most tourists come out for an early dinner and then go back to their hotels / apartment for the evening, as very little is going on. Lots of the eateries are fully booked most of the time as there are quite a few that remain closed due to Covid.

Saturday, having had quite a bit of sun the day before, we decided to stay by the pool so we could get some shade. So we just chilled, relaxed and read.

Mid afternoon we got ourselves cleaned up and headed over to The Tin Shed for a drink. This is a Returned and Services League property (a bit like the British Legion) with great views over the water. Unfortunately they had no availability for visitors that afternoon. Never mind. But we did take the opportunity to check out the beautiful old church sitting on the waterfront nearby.

A bit further out of town is the Port Douglas Yacht Club (called The Yachty) so we headed there for a drink overlooking the pile moorings in the river. Was a very nice spot and we enjoyed the ambience and the scenery despite the annoying no-see-ums who decided we were tasty.

Back into town we went to Paddy’s for a final drink as there were very few people around. It was OK but not the best ambience so we headed back to our apartment for dinner and a quiet night in.

Sunday morning we were up early and headed to the street markets. Lots of different type of things on sale here which was interesting. My favourie was the coconut carved heads.

Afterwards we headed back to our apartment to collect our picnic and then onto Four Mile Beach as this was our last day in Port Douglas. When we arrived we had a coffee on the promenade before wandering onto the beach itself. We were pleasantly surprised to see (socially distanced) sunbeds and umbrellas for hire so we splashed out on a bit of comfort. Was a lovely day.

Back at the apartment we enjoyed the jacuzzi again before getting ready to go out for dinner. We went out a bit earlier to try and get into the Tin Shed and they could accommodate us, but only for 45 minutes. That would have been a little quick for a romantic dinner overlooking the water so we declined and wandered the waterfront to check out other offerings.

We were delighted to be able to secure a table in Melaleuca which is rated the no.1 restaurant in the area.

We took our seats at the back of the restaurant in a quiet spot and had slightly over-attentive service to start with whilst we made our choices. The drinks and starter was quickly served and we enjoyed it, although when I ordered crispy wasabi prawns I did not expect them to be whole (including heads and eyes), which, apparently, is how you are supposed to eat them!

The rest of the food was delicious although the service between courses was a bit indifferent. We wanted a leisurely meal but having empty/dirty plates in front of you for up to 20 minutes meant the place didn’t live up to its hype. Nevertheless we had a really nice evening and it was pretty reasonably priced too.

Returning to our apartment we watched the documentary about the real story of the death of Azaria Chamberlain – the dingo baby death. What happened to the family was shocking and a dreadful miscarriage of justice with the mother Lindy jailed for murder despite lots of (unused) evidence to corroborate the dingo story. We remembered this news story breaking back in 1980 so it was interesting to watch the real story of love, loss and redemption told exclusively by the Chamberlain family. Gripping viewing.

Monday morning we were up early to get packed up to return to Cairns. We checked out and headed back along the Captain Cook Highway. Again we had a bit of time so we took it leisurely stopping at a few spots along the way. Thankfully there were no fires this time!

We dropped the car off at Cairns domestic airport and went across the road to the terminal to print out our boarding passes and luggage tags. All went well and we dropped the bags and proceeded through security. Once we were settled airside we had coffee and a sandwich before boarding the Qantas flight to Brisbane.

This plane was packed so we were very happy to wear our (supplied) masks from the gate onwards. We enjoyed spectacular views over Cairns as we left….

Arriving into Brisbane we were picked up by our Uber and then headed back to Morpheus. Of course, by now, we hit the rush hour traffic so didn’t get back onboard Morphie until 5.30 pm. We had a quiet night in after unpacking.

So that’s the end of this adventure, we have had a great time and are really enjoying seeing some of Australia even though we are restricted to Queensland only. But we realise that we are very lucky compared to friends and family who continue to face the many challenges of Covid. Stay safe everybody. Bye for now


Exploring Queensland: Cairns and Kuranda

Thursday (6 August) we did a few boat jobs and Steve (from SV Tamanu) popped in for a quick visit. Was nice to catch up with him. Then it was on with some printing and computer stuff while Richard popped out to get a gas (propane) refill. Later on Greg (from SV Liberty) popped in for a cup of tea. So it was a nice and social day.

Friday morning we got our cases out and spent the day just packing and sheltering down below away from the heavy rain.

Saturday morning we were up very early to get organised for our 8am Uber pick up to Brisbane Airport. On arrival, we couldn’t get the airport machine to print out our luggage tags (which was the same for most people) so ended up in the queue with everyone else to drop the bags off. But it all went smoothly and then we went through security quickly although I had to have the usual pat down.

So we made ourselves comfortable and watched the world go by at the departure gate. Lots of security for the arriving passengers now that the Queensland border has been closed again.

We boarded the Virgin Australia flight and were given ‘wellbeing’ packs with sanitiser cloths and facemasks which we were encouraged to wear. So we masked up and got ready to enjoy the flight. We enjoyed the couple of hours flying north enjoying spectacular views of the Great Barrier Reef along the way.

We arrived into Cairns and, because we are not Queensland residents, we were taken to one side and given a grilling about how we had got there (especially as we did not have a border pass). We explained that we hadn’t left Queensland since our arrival in March and they then wanted documentation to prove that. Luckily they accepted our marina bills as evidence on the iPad. Phew!

We collected our luggage and left the terminal. There was a phone at the taxi rank so I called them with our online booking number to be told that they had cancelled it and we would have to wait in line. Why?!? Anyway, luckily it didn’t take too long before we were picked up.

We arrived at our ‘fake’ Italian apartment building Il Palazzo and checked into our one-bedroomed unit. It was clean although pretty compact with very little drawer space so we ended up with having to live out of one of our suitcases. The kitchen was reasonably equipped and we did have laundry facilities so not all bad. But the disappointing thing was that we were on the pool / BBQ / courtyard level area so everyone who used this space would walk past our patio doors and could look straight in. So we ended up with curtains closed and living in a cave LOL although to be fair we were hardly in our room during the day anyway.

We headed out for a walk to pick up some provisions. Then we wandered the area checking out the lagoon (a free picnic / BBQ / pool area for everyone to use) and the promenade round to the marina. We returned back to the main drag and had dinner in the Rattle and Hum pub before returning to our apartment.

Sunday morning we awoke to a very cloudy and muggy day which threatened showers. So after breakfast we headed to the Cairns Aquarium and enjoyed checking out some of the fish and various other beasties. I know you are wondering why we would do this as scuba divers but Richard hasn’t got the all clear to dive and this was the closest we were going to get to the Great Barrier Reef right now! Was a fun way to spend the morning anyway.

After lunch the sun was trying to come out so we headed to the lagoon and enjoyed a lazy afternoon relaxing. On the way back to our apartment we had a couple of sundowners in the pub and then went back to our apartment via the night market where we had a cheap dinner in the food court.

Monday morning and we awoke to a brilliant sunny day. So we packed up a picnic and headed to the lagoon and worked on our tans. Was lovely and relaxing. We then went back to the apartment to get cleaned up, went to the street market again for dinner (the food was cheaper than cooking!) and then onto the casino for a quick flutter on the pokies. Afterwards we finished off in the pub and back to the apartment for the night.

Tuesday morning and we were booked for a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. This was a tremendous feat of engineering when construction started in 1887 to link the rich gold mining belt to the sea as reliable supply routes needed to be found. This railway has 37km of track and ascends 327 metres above sea level incorporting 106 cuttings, 15 hand-carved tunnels, 55 bridges and 98 curves. The carriages are originally made from Silky Oak timber and date back to the early 1900s. We travelled Gold Class so had lovely comfortable seats combined with cabin service and complimentary food/drink throughout the two-hour journey into the rainforest. A real treat!

So enjoy the trip…….

Arriving at Kurunda we got the shuttle bus to the RainForestStation Nature Park and checked in for the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience with a dance performance, digeridoo playing, spear and boomerang throwing. Was great fun as well as being quite educational about their traditions and culture.

They demonstrated their spear throwing skills by piercing a post, about 50m away, which represented hunting a kangaroo. Amazing!

Afterwards we were wandering through the cafe and souvenir shop to get the shuttle bus back to the village and spotted the ‘cuddle a koala’ sign. So went to explore and, before you know it, we were the only ones being led through to meet and cuddle Ollie who weighed about 8kgs. He must have thought I was a tree as he clung on tightly and I did wonder if he was going to kiss me at one stage LOL. Amazing experience which was made very special by the fact that we weren’t in line with loads of other tourists being hurried along…. Oh yes, interesting fact, did you know that baby koalas eat their mum’s poo to get their digestive system used to the poisonous eucalyptus leaves that is their staple diet.

Oh yes and Richard just can’t pass up the opportunity to wear a silly hat!

We then got the shuttle back to the village expecting to tour the artisan market only to find it is shut on a Tuesday. None of the promotional literature tells you that. Never mind there were a few stores open and we wiled away the time checking out some of the unusual snack items and artwork available before heading back to the train station for the return journey.

We enjoyed the train ride back just as much as the trip up. So here we go again….

Back into Cairns we walked into town, had a couple of drinks in the pub, before returning to the night markets for a takeaway dinner. Had been a long and tiring day.

Wednesday morning (12 August) was another relaxing day around the lagoon. It was very peaceful and quiet until around noon when the foreign students and backpackers get out of bed and descend on the place loaded down with BBQ supplies and bluetooth speakers. We heard German, English, Italian and Spanish being spoken in one big group. We managed to continue to socially distance even if that meant moving away a little….must be getting old LOL.

Late afternoon we got cleaned up and headed over to Prawn Stars trawlers for tea. Massive tiger prawns were the treat and it was lovely to sit on the deck of the fishing boat with local prawns and a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc as the sun went down. Smashing!

On the way back to our apartment we walked through the pretty illuminated trees along the wharf and enjoyed the night view of the lagoon before we stopped in for a final drink in Cairns (well at least for me, Richard is still on the wagon) at the pub and then headed back to the apartment as this was our last night in Cairns.

Thursday (13 August) we left Cairns to head north to Port Douglas so will do another blog shortly to bring you up to date. Bye for now.


Planning another road trip…

Wednesday (29 July) we tidied up down below and did some laundry. During the afternoon we received an email from our current marina saying that they would be willing to match the (introductory) Sanctuary Cove quote if we would like to stay here instead for the month of August. Wow, another very generous move by The Boatworks who have looked after us so well since we returned to Australia. Although Sanctuary Cove has its many attractions (largely restaurants and access to a hotel pool) the main issue there is transport. Here we can book courtesy cars in advance for Richard’s medical appointments (plus it is a working marina so we can liveaboard without any issues) so we made the decision to stay put.

Thursday and Richard reinstalled all the lines in preparation for us getting the sails on in due course. Apart from that it was pretty much a lazy day onboard.

Friday morning and we started tackling the companionway boards and a couple of internal drawer fronts. So we sanded them down on the dock and gave them their first coat of varnish.

During the day the news came in that, because of an increase in Covid cases in New South Wales they had closed the border to people from the Greater Sydney area. And, of course, this is where my nephew and his family live even though they have had very few cases in their district. Checking out the new rules in more detail it turns out that, although we could definitely enter New South Wales as non-Queenslanders we would be refused entry on return by boat or face 14 days compulsory quarantine in a hotel (at our cost) if returning by land assuming that we would be able to secure a border pass in the first place as the restrictions tighten. So sadly there goes another reunion opportunity. We will see them one day just not sure when right now….

Late afternoon we picked up our courtesy car for the weekend and did some shopping at the Westfield mall before having a quiet night on board.

Saturday morning, picnic made and packed, we headed to our favourite spot at Paradise Point and enjoyed a few hours just people watching and relaxing in the sunshine. We found a place out of the wind so it was a very pleasant way to spend the day.

On the way back we popped into Sanctuary Cove thinking we would have a drink in one of the wine bars there overlooking the water but, as they were preparing for dinner, they wouldn’t serve drinks only. A bit of a wasted trip so we returned to Morphie.

Sunday morning and back out to Paradise Point again. This was a busy day at the sailing club with lots of dinghies being raced by kids and adults alike. Was fun to watch. But the strangest picture of the day has to be the guy who was taking his own floating pontoon with him up the river LOL.

Having enjoyed our picnic lunch we headed back to Morphie via Hope Island. We came across the tavern on the boardwalk overlooking the marina and enjoyed a couple of drinks there and watched the sun go down. Afterwards we headed back for another quiet night in.

Monday we returned the car to the marina, rubbed down the boards and the drawers again, and then varnished them on the dock. We left them outside to dry and headed back down below and talked through our plans for August. We don’t have that many boat jobs left to do with the majority of them really scheduled for the final week we are tied to the dock. For example we need to get the genoa and staysail on; need to activate our Iridium Go! tracker; unpickle and test the watermaker; and renew our navigation subscriptions etc. Which gives us a couple of weeks of sitting here on the presumption that we get the all clear to go sailing in September after the plethora of hospital tests and appointments for Richard at the end of August. So we decided to book another road trip – this time heading to Cairns for five nights and then on up to Port Douglas for four nights. We don’t really plan to sail that far north so very excited about this.

Tuesday we sanded the drawer fronts and the companionway boards again followed up by another coat of varnish (using the rubbed effect Epifanes for the internal drawers as opposed to the high gloss version for the exterior wood). Morphie sits looking pretty on the dock patiently waiting for the day she can get out there again.

Oh yes and our Lewmar stainless steel anchor locks arrived in the post which we had almost forgotten about as they had only taken two and a half months to arrive from the USA! This is the final bit of the bow project so Richard quickly installed them and they have two purposes. One is to secure the anchor and the other is to stop the chain bouncing off the newly-installed black starboard strips (in a big sea) and damaging the wood. They do look a great addition.

Whilst he was doing this I got on with the laundry again. Returning to the boat and the drawer fronts were dried so I reinstalled the stainless knobs and put them back in place. Richard kept busy filling up the boat with water again before another quiet night on board watching more box sets.

This morning, Wednesday, and I’m blogging while Richard does a final sand down and varnish of the companionway boards. And that will probably be it for the day although I have a car this afternoon to pick up a few bits of shopping and to see the doctor (just for prescriptions nothing more). The rest of the week will probably be taken up with getting our suitcases out again and packing for another Queensland adventure.

Oh yes and the Covid restrictions have just toughened up with the border between Queensland and New South Wales being completely closed again from Saturday morning as the Premier here continues to respond quickly to outbreaks elsewhere in the country. The situation has certainly not been helped by a number of idiots who have been caught breaching the border restrictions which have then led to clusters of infection in Queensland.

Stay safe everybody and bye for now.