Day 19, Year 3: Orpheus Island to Hinchinbrook Island
Date: Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Weather: Partly Cloudy Morning, Sunny Afternoon; Winds ESE 15-20
Temperature: Air 72 degrees F; Water 73 degrees F
Latitude: 18 degrees 14.013 minutes S
Longitude: 146 degrees 15.104 minutes E
Location: Shepherd Bay, Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland, Australia

It was another fantastic day as we slowly work our way up the Australian coast. Hinchinbrook Island is one of Queensland’s treasures. It sits just off the coast but remains “one of the last untouched tropical wilderness island left in Australia.” I take that quote from a guide book we are using called “Going Troppo.” The island was made a World Heritage Area in 1981. There are wonderful walks on the island, but you must register with the National Park Office and gain their permission to be on
the island. There is one eco-friendly resort on the northern tip of the island, but that is it. There are no roads and no one lives here except at the low-key resort. We left Orpheus early this morning when Hinchinbrook was still veiled in clouds. We motored across from Orpheus to the southern end of the island and then sailed wing and wing up the eastern coast. We got a good look at the very long jetty at Hinchinbrook’s southern end. The next sight was what looked like a very big waterfall.
As the clouds began to disperse, the beauty of Hinchinbrook became apparent. It has jagged peaks draped in lush greenery that reminded us of islands in the Marquesas. We sailed by Zoe Bay with its white sand beaches and sand dunes and then by Little Ramsey Bay. We could then see Cape Richards at the top of the island and Shepherd Bay that was our intended destination for the day. We were here just after noon and spent our afternoon onshore walking the beautiful beach with Donna and Gerry on
Scot Free II.. The southern end of the beach was lush rainforest and the remainder of the beach was backed dunes covered with a green grass that looked sun-bleached. The color was a grayish-green.

The big attraction of the afternoon was a pair of Beach Stone Curlews. They did not appear to be very happy that we were walking on their beach, but we were delighted to watch them and listen to their call. These birds are also called Beach Thick Knees and they do have knobby little knees on their long legs. They are very distinctively marked with white stripes on the head and shoulder and they have very stout, longish beaks. Mark called them “roadrunners” as they did run up and down the beach
making sure we didn’t wander back into the bush. They seemed to be protecting a nest, but maybe this is just their behavior. As we watched, we realized that they stop and bow as they call out. We felt privileged to share their beach with them today. While I was video-taping the strange bowing behavior, I head the call of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. By the time I spotted him, he has flying away, so I have no photo of him, but we also saw a pair of Azure Kingfishers sitting on the top branches
of an old dead tree and I did get pictures of them.. Their yellowish-orangish breasts were shone off in the sunlight and their azure blue backs were just beautiful. Another beach attraction was the tiny little sand-colored burrowing crabs. They are so camouflaged that they are hard to see, but the little balls of sand that they produce when burrowing covered the entire beach. It is very obvious that they keep very busy from tide to tide. We arrived about halfway between low and high tide, and
it was hard for us to believe that all of those millions of sand balls had been made in only three hours. These little guys really do keep busy. By the time we got in Scot Free II’s dinghy to head back to the boats, high tide was coming in and the wind had picked up. We had a wet ride back to Windbird and Donna and Gerry had difficulty getting back to Scot Free. We thought we were going to have to launch our dinghy and go rescue them, but they finally made it back. Their outboard engine was
overheating, so Gerry will have to check this out when we are in a calmer anchorage. In the meantime, they can hitch a ride with us.

Scot Free II and Windbird are rocking from side to side this evening as this anchorage does have swell from the southeast, but it was such a special day that we will endure the inconvenience. Aqua Magic couldn’t get their anchor to set here, so they went on around Cape Richards to the west side and anchored in Macushla Bay. Tomorrow morning at 6:30 am we will all head forty miles further north to the little sugar cane port of Mourilyan. Winds should be stronger tomorrow, so we might have another
short sailing day.

080528 Day 19 Orpheus Island to Hinchinbrook Island
Day 20, Year 3: Hinchinbrook Island to Mourilyan Harbor
Day 18, Year 3: Magnetic Island to Orpheus Island