Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tin Can Bay to Hervey Bay

These were 2 days of intense fun. The first one, although it was a very long day at the office (12 hours), saw us sail from Tin Can Bay to Hervey Bay by way of the Great Sandy Straits, between Fraser Island and the continent.
We had left at 6 in the morning, i.e. 4 hours before low tide, as there was a very shallow point in the first 100
yeards of the journey. But after that, the name of the game was to waste as much time as possible s
o as to present ourselves at the shallow part, shortly before reaching the mouth of the Mary River, at high tide. Everybody has told us that we would not be able to go through at any other time than high tide.
Well, we could not slow down enough, low tide being at 11:15 a.m., and we ended up going through the shallowest point basically at low tide. Guess what ! I did not even touch ! I need 5'2" and we
had 6'1", almost a full foot to spare. As a result, we reached the halfway point at lunch time and had enough time in our hands to keep going when we were planning to anchor there and wait for the next morning to keep going. So, we arrived at the Hervey Bay marina just as the office was closing, around 5 p.m.
We had wondered whether to go up the Mary River to Maryborough, but decided that it was not worth the detour and instead chose to go u
p there by bus from Urangan.
What a day ! We had been told that Thursday was the day of the week when they had their great heritage street market, and we left at 7:00, well prepared with shopping bags.
At first, I was bewildered by the scenery. I though that we had at last arrived in the deep australia, and in fact, driving through Hervey Bay, I felt that we could as well be travelling through Miami. Lots of huge co
mmercial centres, Macdonalds, KFCs and the like.
Fortunately, gradually the landscape became more of r
ural Australia, and by the time we reached Maryborough, we were in a different country. At first, I thought that we had gone terribly wrong and that we were going to waste our time. The great heritage street market was a small market in a 50 yards long street, and nothing else. So we packed away the shopping bags but kept going anyway, intent of visiting the whole place.
Maryborough is a very historic place for Australia. It was created in 1865 and was for a long time the most important immigration port of the East coast after Sydney. It almost became the capital of Queensland. It is, as a side comment, the birth place of Mary Poppins. And it has more museum per square mile than bistros in France. We visited a few of them, went through the park and walked along the track of the tourist train, to arrive at the small marina on the river where we could have been anchored. Olivier ordered a beer, which he was served (it was 9:45 a.m.) and then the beer was promply withdrawn as licensed bars cannot serve alcohol before 10:00 a.m. And the beer was returned at 10.
Before boarding the bus, we had a last laugh with ladies performing indian belly dances in front of city hall !
We then returned to Harvey Bay and luckily through a different route so that we visited the whole of Harvey Bay in one bus ride.
We had lunch at the Hervey Bay boat club, very strange huge place, with restaurant, bar, dancing lounge, casino, etc....
We then took a nap on Papy Jovial before going out again, this time to find a camping equipment store as we were looking for mosquito net in preparation for our passage through Thursday Island and Cape York, where we were told that they were cases of
malaria and dengue fever. We never found the place as we had been given the wrong information. We will try again tomorrow.
After quite a long walk, we decided that have a beer at the marina at one of the bars on the waterfront. At first, we were told to sit at the tables that were not set for dinner if we only wanted to drink. We we
did and were served the beer. But then, the owner of the place came rushing and made us move by about 4 feet, so that we would be inside the area where consumption of alcohol was permitted ! Australia is not short of rules and regulation !
We will probably wait until Sunday to leave this place as the wind is from the northerly direction and I am tired of motoring.

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