16 Sept: St Bees & Keswick

Surprisingly last night was pretty good. We righted at 8pm with the incoming tide, slept well until 4am when she dried out and went over again, but went back to sleep for another couple of hours. When we woke we went for a walk (easy, just jumped over the side) aound Homestead Bay. It’s pretty big, maybe about 5 acres between the arms of the bay. St Bees is predominantly a National Park apart from a small leasehold on the foreshore of Homestead Bay. There are a few shacks there that look like they’ve seen better days.  The walk was made all the more delightful by the millions of Blue Tiger butterflies everywhere. White cockatoos screeched in the gums around the bay and various seabirds, including an oyster catcher with its vivid red beak, wandered the shallows. Back on the boat in time for her to float we had breakfast and planned our day.

St Bees has a population of koalas that were brought here in the 1920s. These koalas have piqued the interest of scientists who study both the koalas and the changing ecosystem of the island, apparently the grasslands are being replaced by rainforest. We thought we’d climb up the ridge amongst the eucalypts to see if we could spot some koalas. The best place to find them is from Honeymoon Bay, so we took the tender over and prepared to climb. This was easier said than done, the mangroves lower down and the gums and fig trees higher up being interspersed with lantana and prickly pear to trap the unwary. We didn’t spot any koalas but the views from the top were outstanding and worth every loose rock and prickle. The water in the Whitsundays is a unique turquoise blue, and to see the verdant islands floating in this beautiful ocean is a joy.

Steve. Keswick to the right, St Bees to the left, Cockermouth at the far end of Egremont Channel.

Steve. Keswick to the right, St Bees to the left, Cockermouth at the far end of Egremont Channel.

Looking south from the ridge on St Bees Island. Idyllic coves abound!

Looking south from the ridge on St Bees Island. Idyllic coves abound!

We needed to move the boat before the tide went out again – another night on a slope wasn’t on the agenda. After motoring over to Horseshoe Bay on Keswick we picked up a mooring buoy using the technique we’d been taught during our sailing course. Instead of trying to hook it with the boat hook as you draw near to it, a manoeuvre thwart with danger (for your marriage, if nothing else!), you lasso the buoy and draw it onboard – very easy.

At the shop on Keswick. Runway and St Bees in the background.

At the shop on Keswick. The runway on Keswick and St Bees Island across Egremont Channel.

There were 3 other (large) yachts travelling together moored there. One of the couples dinghied over and invited us to drinks on board. Very friendly. Before drinks time though we took the tender to the boat ramp on Keswick and went for a walk along the runway and up to the store (not open).  On our hot, sticky return to Top Shelf we both jumped in off the boat to freshen up. We were in about 7 meters of water; I’m not comfortable jumping into water that appears bottomless, but did feel a million dollars once I got out.

Drinks on board Wilaprina with hosts Stephen and Kim, and their friends Janet and Mark (off Koonya) and Carol and Mike (off Mica) was very enjoyable. Back to Top Shelf for a BBQ salmon and veggies dinner and off to bed. The boat was rolling around a lot as we went to bed – hope it settles at change of tide.


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