It was surreal watching Dosia motor off the fuel docks in Brisbane without us. After 8 years of ownership, my time with her is over. It wasn’t nearly as sad a moment as we had expected. Margie cried for about 5 minutes as she ironically counted out the big stack of cash for our “delivery fee.” It was more of an acknowledgement that this stage of life; the sailing, the travel, and 11AM beers in tropical bars, is coming to a quick close.
We arrived at the entrance to Moreton Bay just before dark on Friday and after a quick look at one of the shoaling, short cut bar entrances, we moved onto the main shipping channel for the LONG 43 mile trip up the Bay and the Brisbane River to the customs check-in point at Rivergate Marina. It was 2:30 AM when we finally tied up the lines. Marge headed off to bed and I got to work cleaning up the engine room and starboard cockpit locker from the coolant explosion a day earlier. At 6:15 AM two absolutely hilarious guys from Australian customs showed up. I thought they were gonna give me a hug when I showed them I had already completed our arrival forms which cut 30+ minutes off the check-in process. After hearing all the horror stories on checking in, it was the easiest process ever. Of course, I’d have been thoroughly disappointed if I showed up to this country and was charged over $600 AUS for quarantine ($300 + overtime weekend arrival) but luckily I wasn’t responsible for those charges in this case. It’s pitiful Australia chooses to have such a high charge for something so ridiculous. That one fee is enough to keep thousands of sailors away every year.
After watching my floating home disappear on the horizon we jumped into “Dosia II,” a brand new Volkswagon Jetta TDI, and headed south towards the beaches of the Gold Coast. We decided to skip Brisbane not because we didn’t like it, but everything seemed to be closed and we were looking for something a little beachier. And that’s exactly what we found in the tourist mecca of Surfer’s Paradise. We arrived just before the rain started. That’s the same rain that has now followed us for a week down the entire coast of Australia. Seriously, after hearing all about the droughts in Australia we’ve had not one day without rain and only two days with any sunshine at all!
Our stops along the way from Brisbane included Surfer’s Paradise, Byron Bay, Coff’s Harbour, and now Sydney. I can’t say the drive along the coast is the most scenic in the world. Some of the towns don’t have a lot to offer. We enjoy touristy areas with lots of bars and restaurants and shopping just as much as we enjoy the out islands of Tonga. But we don’t really seem to care for the “in between.” I wish we would have spent one more night in the Gold Coast/Surfer’s Paradise area and a third night in Byron Bay and skipped everything else on the way to Sydney! Ouch. That’s seems harsh. Of course, we may have enjoyed some of those areas more if we could have gotten out of the car and gone to the beach or something but it seems the rain was destined to stop us. More about Sydney in the next post!