Yes we've made it another 100 miles south having left Mooloolaba at high water yesterday and arrived at Southport on the Gold Coast at 2am this morning. We managed to sail all but the last 3 hours when the wind completely died - not what was forecast but when are they ever accurate?!! - but the whale activity more than made up for that. They were everywhere, waterspouts blowing, tails and fins slapping and dramatic leaps fully out of the water, as they courted in the shallow waters off Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands. We tried to get photographs, the best of them shown below, but it's tricky to know when and where they will next breach and so we have to rely on the wider-lensed phone camera without zooming in. Hey ho, we have the mental images firmly imprinted on our brains. When darkness fell we kept our fingers crossed we didn't run into a sleeping whale. In that regard having the engine on for a few hours wasn't a bad thing as they could at least hear us coming!
The Gold Coast is the part of Queensland bordering New South Wales (yes, we're nearly there!) with great surfing beaches backed by high rise apartments, eateries, clubs and theme parks. The anchorage area is busy and criss-crossed by lots of people enjoying their weekend afloat on small boats and jet skis. Throw in the whale-watching tour boats and transiting superyachts coming into and out of the nearby Palazzo Versace Marina, then the swell is a nuisance slapping against our stern, but it's lovely to see people making the most of the ocean and it will be like a millpond again tonight.
While it's not really our scene, over 4 million people visit each year so I don't think we will be missed! Inland is reputedly very attractive with national parks offering hiking, waterfalls and great views but having thoroughly explored the hinterland of Mooloolaba we don't feel the need to repeat it here .... it can't be that different, can it?!
One of the main reasons we are making our stay here very short is the weather: we utilised a short northerly weather window to get here yesterday and tomorrow another one opens for twenty four hours which will enable us to reach Coffs Harbour in NSW before the next band of strong southerlies kick in. Everyone keeps telling us that the winds this year aren't typical ... just our luck! - so we will up anchor around midday tomorrow and sail overnight the 150 miles to Coffs Harbour. It got quite chilly last night on our way here but needs must!!
PS: it turns out Paul did capture a few good shots after all! Much better detail and focus!!