I have had a lot of time to reflect and since I suspect that I will be asked what was my favourite part of the trip, I have pondered this.
Yes, the landscape has been beautiful and varied along the way. Yes, the wildlife has been of interest. Yes, the seafood has been plentiful and fresh.
For me, it has been the people that we have met and observed along the way. Here is a brief summary of my musing.
1. Everyone has been a white Australian. I don't really know what to make of this other than it is often said that Aussies like the sun and surf and we only spent time along the coast not inland.
2. Other than in shopping centres and on the streets, no one we have met has been obese. Some have been a bit chubby but nothing like the obseity seen on our Sydney streets. I put this done to people having a mind set of getting out and about doing things. Not necessarily physical activity and certainly not being a couch potato. I also think it may be a reflection of diet due to abundance of fresh produce including fish.
3. Finally, the friendliness and helpfulness of people which is not always present in large cities like Sydney. There has been a sense of community in each location we have been to.
Now back to our trip:
We positioned ourselves at an anchorage off Seaworld at the Gold Coast known as the Marine Stadium. The anchorage is just metres from the Seaway which opens onto the Pacific Ocean. The Marine Stadium anchorage is very popular and includes many live-aboard boats, not necessarily in good condition. The anchorage is also known as “Bum’s Bay” for this reason.
Leaving the Gold Coast we faced the usual fishing trawler fleet outside of Yamba, unfortunately in the dark. Not my favourite experience. Due to the strengthening winds (again) we arrived in Coffs Harbour 3 hours earlier than expected. As the marina had been damaged in the East Coast Low in June, it was closed to all new boats so we anchored in the main harbour.
While in Coffs Harbour we met up with our neighbours from our previous stay in June when friendships were formed during the night of the storm. Val and Steve had sold their house in Coffs Harbour 6 months ago to buy their boat and live permanently on it. Perhaps not the best timing given the damage to the marina resulting in a lot of uncertainty and discomfort.
A Canadian couple on the boat adjacent to Val and Steve invited us all for Sunday lunch which went well into the evening. We had a lovely time listening to tails of sailing from Asia to Australia.
I always had some aprehension about returning to Coffs Harbour given our last experience and was keen to get out of there as soon as possible. We ended up staying 7 days as the winds went from 30 knots (55 kph) from the south, to 30 kts from the north, to 30 kts from south and another stint of 30 kts from the south. It was bizarre. One extreme to another with no stable conditions in between. In fact in the space of 12 hours the winds went 30kts from the north to 30 kts from the south. This last change being at 3 am and was not much fun. Two yachts had dragged their anchors when the southerly change came through and one of these ended up 100 m from the jetty before gaining control of their vessel.
Finally, a suitable window of forecasted winds opened up and we left Coffs Harbour at 2 am for a 13 hour trip to Laurieton, just south of Port Macquarie. Our morning starts are getting earlier and earlier!
Laurieton is a pretty township which is buzzing with activity. There are many retirees as well as oyster farmers and fishermen. It has a real community feel. As we will be here a few days (due to more strong winds with these ongoing cold fronts that keep coming through), we have some time for exploring. Today we walked to a lookout on the North Brother Mountain overlooking the township. Tomorrow, we shall be checking out the Fish Co-OP and their seafood. There are good reviews on Tripadvisor for the freshness of seafood, so I am looking forward to checking it out.
Hopefully, we can be back in Sydney with a window of 2 days of suitable conditions!
The Marine Stadium (aka Bum’s Bay), Seaworld Gold Coast
Laurieton, Camden Haven