Australia: In and around Bundaberg

Friday we went out with John and Stella (SV Exocet Strike) in their hire car. They were planning a shopping day in and around Bundaberg and very kindly invited us to join them. So at 9am we headed into The Baltimore (the marina’s restaurant) and had the most fantastic cooked breakfast which was a lovely treat.

Afterwards we met John and Stella and headed out. We popped into Bunnings (hardware store) followed by BCF (Boating, Camping and Fishing) where we picked up a V sheet. We had never seen one of these before but is a safety equipment requirement here in Queensland.

Then it was time to visit Dan Murphy’s which is a huge liquor store (they don’t sell alcohol in the supermarkets here in Australia) and we picked up some real bargains. with lots of wine priced at only AUS $5 to $7 (that makes the cheapest bottle only £2.67). Then it was back to the Hinkler Mall to revisit Woolworths for some fresh salad for the evening. We went out with a very small shopping list but we somehow managed to fill a marina cart on our return LOL. Overall was a very good expedition.

In the evening there was the Cruisers Pot Luck in the Cruisers Cove area of the marina. The meat for the BBQ was supplied by the marina (steak, sausages and chicken). Some long-term Australian cruisers were doing all the cooking (for over 40 people) so I pitched in for a while (as did Aso from SV Bla Ellinor) as most people were just gorging themselves and not even thinking about cooking for themselves. Not sure what planet some people live on. Anyway, eventually, we sat down with the crews of SV Bla Ellinor, SV Begonia and SV Jonas. People started moving away once the food was finished but we decided to stay out and watched the remainder of the New Zealand -v- Wales match. Well done to the All Blacks.

Saturday we had a lazy start and debated what to do on a grey and cloudy day. We decided to walk to Burnett Heads – the nearest village – and took the river-side path watching some boats racing in the river in very light airs.

We came to the Bundaberg Marina Rescue Association building so went inside and thanked them for their assistance on our journey into Australia. They liaised on our behalf with the marina and the officials to ensure that everything went smoothly and efficiently on our arrival. This volunteer service will also keep radio tabs on us as we move south towards Brisbane in the coming weeks. Very nice people.

Whilst there we checked out the sea eagles who were nesting nearby. They had babies in the nest and we were lucky enough to see the adults fly off, return, and then feed them (with sea snakes).

Moving on we reached Burnett Heads and had a look around. We were amused by the drive through Liquor Store. That’s a first!

We stopped at the Lighthouse for lunch and made arrangements to reserve a table for the evening to watch the Rugby World Cup Final in Japan. We then had a quick look in the supermarket and the bakers. At the bakers, the lady was just shutting up shop, and decided to load us up with free bread rolls and a huge cream cake. Seriously, the cake was even on a china plate. She told us just to return that another day. What a country! Can’t imagine that happening at home…..

Walking back towards the marina we stopped to feed a black and white bird who looked a bit like a crow. Very vocal and noisy he was too. Then we watched the black and white pelicans in the lagoon. We had never seen them this colour before and they were certainly much more attractive than their grey/brown Caribbean cousins.

So on we continued admiring the pretty flowers as we strolled.

Then we had our first kangaroo encounter – a mob of wild ones. There were three of them and two of them had joeys in their pouches. So we thoroughly enjoyed watching them as they eyeballed us back.

At the marina, pretty tired having walked quite a few miles, we visited some “friend” boats and dished out the cake and bread. Everyone was very happy.

In the early evening we got the courtesy bus back to The Lighthouse. The large screen TV was in action and we all took a seat to watch the rugby. It was quite stressful and, sadly, England was not able to produce the dream finish. South Africa were too strong for them on the day and deserved the win. What an amazing run our lads had, despite their disappointment, they should be very proud of what they achieved. We actually found it quite amusing that the locals in The Lighthouse stayed elsewhere and completely ignored the match – bet that wouldn’t have happened if they had been in the final LOL.

Sunday we had another lazy start and then headed to the laundry. Job done we returned to Morphie via the small fresh seafood store here in the marina and purchased some huge king prawns (which were very reasonably priced too). Back on board we quickly peeled them for lunch. Absolutely delicious!

We didn’t do much for the rest of the day and just stayed on board. But I did manage to organise our 2019/20 boat insurance. Topsail were obviously impressed by my polite ‘very disappointed’ email because I got a direct reply from the Managing Director who was trying to see if they could be more flexible for us. I thanked him for his intervention but let him down gently. There was no point getting angry as you don’t know who will be in the market at the next renewal date and I certainly don’t want to burn any bridges. By this time, however, I had secured a great deal with Admiral who came up trumps and gave us exactly what we were looking for (including cyclone coverage whilst on the hard in The Boat Works). Very relieved – just the paperwork and payment to be done, then we are all sorted! Phew…

In the afternoon it was chilly and had rained a little, despite this area of Australia having a long-term drought so obviously we are the rainmakers this season! We ended up staying put and had a movie night on board.

Monday morning we headed into the main town of Bundaberg again and did some more shopping – nothing special, just some toiletries and a few other items. We just wanted to get off the boat really. We did have a look around this time but mainly we were people watching.

Late afternoon we headed to the Cruisers Cove and met up with Jeff and Katie (SV Mezzaluna) who had just arrived into the marina – they had been anchored out since their arrival in Australia. We were chatting to them and some other locals when this couple walked through….hang on….we know them. After some collective wracking of brains we realised it was Jodie and Steve who we used to race with / against in a variety of regattas in the UK many many years ago. How bizarre that we should meet again half way around the world on the same Rally!!! Absolutely amazing coincidence.

Tuesday morning and we had a relaxing start before heading to the courtesy bus at 12 noon to take us to the Lighthouse again. This was Melbourne Cup day so we joined other Rally participants and enjoyed the event. People were dressed up in hats and all sorts – just like Ascot. We didn’t really have anything suitable on board….

Anyway, we did the Rally sweepstake and won 1st and 2nd. And our fellow winners were Jodie and Steve.

And we had placed some other bets and won 2nd. And we entered the charity raffle and won again! We ended up covering all our costs and then some.

After the racing was over most of the cruisers headed back to the marina but we stayed out and caught up properly with Jodie and Steve over a few glasses. Was lovely. We finally returned and then headed to The Baltimore for an excellent dinner. Had been a great day.

This morning and this is officially the start of Rally week. We have to go and pick up our t-shirts and goody bags this morning and, then this evening, we have drinks, canapes and welcome entertainment. Really looking forward to the whole social event – and there are prizes so you never know, on current form, we could be in with a chance of winning something LOL.

Oh yes, and hope you all enjoy Firework Night at home. Stay safe.

Bye for now