Monday August 18

The breeze and the forecast are staring to moderate and today we had a quieter day on the water. The morning was still brisk and jiggly with a short sharp SE chop. Then as we neared Yabooma Island the wind died off a bit and went to the NE.

We decided to skip the Yabooma anchorage as we did not intend to visit the settlement and it was a long way to motor in and out against the tide. Instead we slowly continued on to Cape Stewart. The mainland horizon was thick with smoke due to burning off being done all along the coast.

The anchorage at Cape Stewart was very ordinary as it was too shallow to get in out of the swell. But we did have a spectacular sunset. Obviously a few wines as well given the lean on the camera.

 

Tuesday August 19

It was low tide when we got up and we were very glad we had stayed well offshore. The rocky reefs we could now see above water looked very nasty.

Up anchoring was a chore as the chain was coated with thick mud that Lea likened to “batter on a hotdog at the Melcourne Show”. Thereafter she called it “Crocodile Mud”. It started at the 25 meter mark all the way to the anchor. She was ages cleaning up the mud everywhere. Just as well it wasn't blowing hard at the same time.

Slow easy trip to the Liverpool River where we anchored off the township of Maningrida. I rang the council offices to make sure we were ok to come ashore as we did not have a permit. No problem.

We went ashore with the dinghy fuel locked down and checked out the town. Couldn't find the art centre but the supermarket was good so we stocked up on some fresh vegies and milk which were reasonably priced considering everything is shipped in by barge.

The town was fairly sprawling with buildings of varying quality. There was a lot of rubbish around though. The locals seemed quite friendly. All in all it was not as bad as we expected.

Wednesday August 20

Forecast was a bit light today and tomorrow promised a better sailing day for the longer trip to South Goulburn Island so we decided to have another go at finding the Arts Centre.

Another yacht had arrived late last night so we were curious to see if it was anyone we knew. It turned out to be a yacht heading to Cairns with 9 aboard. We suspect 7 of them were fare paying back packers. It will be a long haul to Cairns for them.

We had had a cough and splutter from the dinghy outboard yesturday so I ran all the fuel through a filter to remove any water that may have condensed in the fuel as the nights have been chilly and we don't keep much fuel in the tank as the Aboriginal Communities request, due to petrol sniffing problems. In these communities a special fuel is used which is no good for sniffing.

After morning coffee we went ashore again and after asking directions from a Ranger we walked up toward the Airport where the Arts centre is now in a brand new building. We arrived just as a plane load of tourists arrived so we were invited to join them for a tour of the town, museum and women's workshop. Their bus was full but they made a special trip to come back and pick us up.

The women make printed fabrics using vinyl tiles carved with a design, usually with a significant cultural meaning to the artist. We saw designs of dilly bags, woven fish traps and bush potato. The tile is then inked and placed on the fabric. This is repeated all over the fabric piece sometimes with a number of overlaid colours. The result is excellent.

The museum has a collection of historical and ceremonial artefacts. Examples of woven baskets, traditional dance adornments, weapons, tools, bark canoes and many photos and art works. The baskets really impressed us as they were beautifully done with soft down feathers woven into the design.

Many photos were of body paint in for ceremonial dancing. The detail and intricacy of the designs impressed us and showed a level of enthusiasm we have not seen before in Australian Cultural Dance.

We were very lucky to see these 2 places and our thanks to the 2 lovely ladies who run the Arts Centre.

Back at the Arts Centre we were again impressed with the quality of the work and the level of detail the local artists can achieve on natural medium. No Canvases here. All the paintings were done on pieces of bark or timber. Makes many of the paintings difficult to hang but the gallery insists on maintaining this level of authenticity. The burial poles were outstanding. Lea fell in love with one outstanding piece but it was over 2 meters long, 250 mm diameter and cost over $3000.00. We settled for one a bit smaller but still beautifully painted and typical of the designs of Arnhem Land. Unfortunately it was all wrapped up for us before we thought to take a photo.

We were driven back down to our dinghy and had a long chat about life in the community. Overall things are very positive here. This was quality cultural tourism. no tacky tea towels here!

 

Thursday August 21

The barge arrived before dawn. Maningrida gets 2 deliveries per week. Monday and Thursday and the supermarkets alternate getting their fresh produce so one of the supermarkets will always have some fresh stuff.the alcohol is by order only and permits are required and there is a quota. Adults are able to order 1 carton of heavy beer and 1 carton of light beer per fortnight or 1 carton of beer and 6 bottles of wine. The alcohol permit is the first privilege that gets revoked if you do the wrong thing here.

We were up early to catch the last of the ebb tide out of the river. The Spinnaker was soon up but as the wind was light and dead behind us we added the Screecher too. That's 220 m2 of sail pushing us along.

Another good day sailing with the tide working in our favour. Pulled into SW Bay, South Goulburn Island about 1600 after 60 Nm. This will be our last phone service until Darwin.

 

Friday August 22

Another good sailing day with winds 15-20 SE in the morning the easing slightly as the wind backs to the NE during the afternoon. This was to be the pattern for the next week or so. It's good to have the Spinnaker up again. It got a little boisterous around Cape Cockburn so we dropped the kite, gybed and headed in toward Valentia Island a little after midday. After looking at the tides we changed our mind and decided to head through. Bowen Strait as the tide was perfect, so we thought and the day was still young.

It was a bit disappointing as we hit the entrance of Bowen Strait just after high tide to catch the ebb through but it didn't happen. The breeze dropped headed us to the NE so we had to motor. After the Strait we cut across to Raffles Bay. Supposedly full of Pearl Racks but we thought we would chance it so we could visit the site of Fort Wellington.we called up the Pearl Farm on the radio as a courtesy but received no response. As it turned out there was not a Pearl rack to be seen and we anchored in a beautifull bay just off the old fort site.

Lovely calm night but the downside was we got swarmed by mosquito's.

Saturday August 23

Thousands of dead mossies to clean up. The heavy dew gave us another opportunity to clean the salt off the decks. Lea saw a buffalo on the beach. These are Banteng, Indonesian cattle that are endangered in their own country. This area is home to the worlds largest wild herd of these cattle.

 

Once Gemini Lady was ship shape again we headed to shore to search for the ruins of Fort Wellington a settlement dating from 1827 -1829. We searched the bush on the headland and behind the beach and found nothing except this Cairn and plaque that was built on the site in 1977 to commemorate 150 years on. Even the Cairn looks like it will be washed away in the next cyclone.

 

On the rocks we collected a few dozen of the small oysters.

Easy afternoon sail around to Point Danger. Covered a whole 15 Nm. Lea on the tramps soaking up the sun in her bikini. Weather now is sensational, warm, balmy with light winds.

Sunday August 24

Another heavy dew followed by a beautiful day. The breeze was light so we Motorsailed most of the way. A large turtle and a ghost net were all we saw.

Rounding Black Point we saw Tusitala anchored in the Bay so we dropped the pick nearby. Paul and Helen came passed on their way back from shore so we invited them on board for a coffee. They are doing an Aussie circumnavigation. They started in Adelaide back in February.

After lunch we went ashore to visit the cultural centre and took a marked walk around the wetland area. We spotted a small wallaby and 2 dingoes. The dingoes were very rusty red in colour compared to the sandy coloured ones we have seen on Fraser Island.

Historically a popular area with the Maccassans in search of Trepang or sea cucumber.

It was very hot in the sun so we didn't do the walk out to the monument on Smith Point that we had noticed on the way in.

We thought of moving with the breeze down to Victoria Settlement but didn't think it would last so we stayed put and enjoyed a seafood entree of oysters, sashimi and pickled fish.

Tough decision really but we did regret it a little the next morning when we had to motor the whole way down the bay.

 

 

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