Day 4: Harwood to Maclean

Despite our proximity to the bridge, and the noise the semi’s make as they cross it, we slept very well – maybe the traffic decreased after about 10pm.

Today is a short trip, just around the bend really. Maclean is known as the ‘Scottish Town in Australia’ due to the large number of Scottish immigrants that settled¬† in the area. It’s taken its theme to heart and with tartans and bag pipe music around every corner. Many street signs carry the Gaelic translations and 200 of the power poles have been decorated with the tartan of specific clans. The old buildings are well-preserved and the town has plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to while away the hours.

One of 200 tartan painted poles in Maclean.

One of 200 tartan painted poles in Maclean.

Maclean, the Scottish town, streetscape.

Maclean, the Scottish town, streetscape.

There’s also a self-guided walking tour which we’d thought we might do, but indolence overcame us and after our lunch we remained aboard. Though Steve did pop up to the fishmongers for prawns (and oysters) for our wine o’clock.

A cabin cruiser pulled up on the pontoon just before we arrived. They’d motored down from Surfers Paradise yesterday, then Yamba to here today. Nope, I don’t envy them – they missed so much along the way that we saw. Anyway after talking to one of the locals who said the park beside the pontoon can become ‘noisy’ at night they moved on to Brushgrove. Oh well, we’re staying. The pontoon is excellent, like all we’ve been on so far. It’s only 50m to the Spar for groceries and even closer to the nearest cafe. There’s free power and water on the pontoon should you need it.

A lovely man from the Cruising Yacht Club came down to welcome us and asked us to sign the Visitors’ Book and gave us some local publications. Had a chat with him. People are so friendly.

Sundowners on the Clarence at Maclean. Local prawns - from the many trawlers we've seen on the river.

Sundowners on the Clarence at Maclean. Local prawns – from the many trawlers we’ve seen on the river.

The pontoon at Maclean. This one has free power and water too.

Top Shelf on the pontoon at Maclean. This one has free power and water too.

For more photos from this leg of our trip click HERE.

Day 3: Iluka to Harwood

The big excitement for today is that the bridge that carries the Pacific Highway across the Clarence River at Harwood is too low to allow masted vessels to pass underneath. Hence the bridge can be raised with 24 hours notice. So today at 2.30pm we have the supreme power of stopping all the traffic on that very busy highway while we float graciously past. Should I be lazing on the bow with wine glass in hand as I simulate the Queen’s wave, or not?

Leaving Iluka was easy – I took her out, and though I was nervous the careful instructions given to me by the Skipper were followed to the letter and worked a treat. We just needed to round a couple of bends in the river to get the ‘fare winds’ from the right direction and up went the sails. Ahhh the bliss of turning off the motor and sailing – it’s pure joy. The winds were gentle and we probably didn’t exceed 3Knots but that took us at the perfect pace to enjoy the river and river bank as we went. Lots of lovely homes were built close to the banks – mostly on built-up pads. I wonder how they go when the river floods.

Classy riverside homes between Iluka and Harwood.

Classy riverside homes between Iluka and Harwood.

There were various industries along the riverbank too, such as slipyards, sugar cane farms and the sugar mill. The majority of other river traffic was prawn trawlers – and there were a lot of them! It was interesting watching them working. The river at the moment is the colour of chocolate with lots of flotsam from the recent heavy rains the district experienced. The locals tell us the river is much higher than usual and flowing very fast. Apparently the trawlers can’t work as far up the river as usual because the current is too strong for their nets.

Bit hard to see, but there's at least 7 prawn trawlers working the far side of the river in this photo.

Bit hard to see, but there’s at least 7 prawn trawlers working the far side of the river in this photo.

Wasn’t long before the Harwood Bridge came into sight and we had about an hour and a half to put in before it opened. We looked around for a place to pull over and found the Big River Sailing Club just before the sugar mill. No jetty, but a lovely little sandy beach beside a well-tended lawn leading up to their clubhouse.¬† We pulled Top Shelf in and had a picnic lunch on the lawn.

Whiling away an hour before the bridge is booked to be opened for us. Prawn trawler in river. Harwood

Whiling away an hour before the bridge is booked to be opened for us. Prawn trawler in river. Harwood

Eventually it was time for the bridge to open for us so we motored on over, the bridge man waved hello, stopped all the traffic and waved us on through. No I didn’t have the glass of wine in hand!

And up she goes! When the light on the control room turns green we can go under that part. Harwood Bridge

And up she goes! When the light on the control room turns green we can go under that part. Harwood Bridge

The Harwood island pontoon is just the other side of the bridge so we were tied up securely in no time at all. Took a walk around this delightful little town (doesn’t take long), back for a drink at the Harwood Hilton and a delicious meal onboard.

 

Sunset view of the Harwood Bridge from our mooring on the pontoon.

Sunset view of the Harwood Bridge from our mooring on the pontoon.

For more photos from today’s sail please click HERE.