Captain Tim Edwards has years of experience cruising the east coast, both in his role as delivery Captain for various motor yacht brands, and in his former position as a skipper on board commercial fishing vessels.
He recently delivered an Integrity 440 to new owners in Sydney and has worked with owners across the brand range on itineraries heading north to the Whitsundays for a winter in the sunshine.
Now, as several Whitehaven owners plot their course to warmer climes, Captain Tim shares his thoughts on some suggested anchorages and points of interest en route.
A rough plan from the Gold Coast to the Whitsundays could start with an overnight or a couple of days in Mooloolaba, on the Sunshine Coast. There are several marinas there, wonderful beaches and seafood fresh of the trawler.
From there, head to Inskip Point, at the entrance to Tin Can Bay and Great Sandy Strait. It’s known for its tranquillity and picturesque scenery, sheltered waters and National Park tracts which are great for hiking and camping.
Next is the iconic Hervey Bay, which is famous as a playground for the migrating humpback whales each year on their pilgrimage to warmer waters.
Humpbacks use the calm, protected waters around K’gari (Fraser Island) as a calf kindergarten to teach their young all kinds of whale behaviours, including flip slaps, blowhole spurts and impressive out-of-water aerial displays, all accompanied by haunting whalesong which they use to identify each other and communicate their intentions.
From Hervey Bay, the next alluring anchorage is Pancake Creek, which is abundant with pelagics and a great range of reef fish and offers excellent fishing and snorkelling. Or drop the crab pots and enjoy a feast! Once inside, it’s a very protected bay and a great place to drop anchor for a couple of days.
The lovely Lady Musgrave, off Bundaberg, is the next must-do anchorage, famous for its lagoon and fantastic diving. Set on 3,000 acres of living reef, the protected lagoon stretches eight kilometres around the island.
Teeming with bird life, this magical island is also a haven for turtles, manta rays, dolphins and whales, among a myriad of marine life.
Rosslyn Bay, near Yeppoon, is next on the itinerary. Rosslyn Bay Harbour is a hive of activity with ferries, charter yachts, recreational fishing cruises, trawlers and private vessels at the Keppel Bay Marina, which boasts 400 berths.
This area is famous for its reef fish, prawns, bugs and mud crabs and the Rosslyn Bay Fisherman’s Co-op is a great place to stock up. Onshore, The Waterline Restaurant or Beaches Restaurant are lovely spots to dine with a view.
Great Keppel (Wop-pa) Island is 15kms off Yeppoon with many options for sheltered anchorages. The island is blessed with 17 beaches, including Second Beach, Wreck Beach and Monkey Beach which are great for swimming and snorkelling.
If you’re up for a hike, try the 3.5-hour hike up Mount Wyndham (the island’s highest point) or the full-day (15.4km) Lighthouse Walk, meandering from Fishermans Beach to the petite lighthouse on Bald Rock Point. You can discover the island’s rich Aboriginal heritage and abundant native wildlife, including more than 90 species of birds.
Pearl Bay is a very appealing anchorage, popular with cruising yachts heading north. It has several long, sandy beaches, and high cliffs that provide good protection from any wind from south west through to south east.
Described as “One of the most pristine and isolated all weather anchorages on the Australian East coast”, Island Head Creek is an excellent stop. From there, it’s easy cruising to The Percy Islands, 130km southeast of Mackay.
These islands are known worldwide among cruising sailors for their sheltered anchorages. Onshore, the A-frame hut at West Beach on Middle Percy is a magnet for sailors who add their boat name plaques and other memorabilia of their visits.
From there, the Whitsundays are a hop, skip and a jump, starting with Thomas Island in the Lindeman Group, with its curiously named Naked Lady Beach – the perfect place for lunch, a dip or snorkel and a walk along the pristine shoreline, plucking fascinating cowry shells from the sand.
The next stop could be Shaw Island, which is ideal for kayaking, swimming, fishing and bird watching. For avid walkers, there’s a bush track that traverses the island and offers great views back to Lindeman Island.
And finally, Hamilton Island – one of Australia’s most spectacular and sought-after holiday destinations. From its white sandy beaches, and kaleidoscope of coral and marine life, to its vibrant onshore attractions, Hamilton Island is a perfect base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef and world-famous Whitehaven Beach.
“Hamo” as it’s affectionately known, has a selection of restaurants, bars and boutiques, water sports and activities, Hamilton Island Yacht Club, and for keen golfers, Dent Island is the only Australian 18-hole championship course on its own island.
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