Welcome to Zenitude’s blog where you can follow us while we travel slow in our Lagoon catamaran. We update this blog frequently when we are cruising to let family and friends know where we are. Check the complete story of our adventures that started in 2006 when Zenitude became our home and cruising our way of life. Graciela and Oscar

Monday, 21 September 2015

From Cairns to Lizard – Stopping along the way

Low Isles

On September 17 we finally left Cairns to continue our trip north towards places where we don’t expect to have much shopping available. We left with enough supplies to ensure we wouldn’t starve and with 650 litres of fresh water, a precious item at the moment. Our water maker (for water desalination) is not working and any additional water to replenish Zenitude’s  fresh water tanks will need to be carried in jugs. We left knowing that Lizard Island has fresh water available for that.

We decided to stop first at Low Isles, famous for tourism out of Port Douglas since it is not far from there. So it was quite crowded when we arrived in the middle of the afternoon and we couldn’t believe it when we found a mooring free and available to us. Marine Parks has installed three moorings there but with the settled weather the other boats seemed to be happily at anchor.

As soon as we were securely attached to the mooring we put the dinghy down and off we went to visit the island where the historical light house is. You can only visit the island during daylight hours to provide privacy for the islands full time residents. When we landed most of the tourist boats were loading the people from the beach and onto their boats for the trip back to Port Douglas, at that point dinghies from other cruising boats started to land on the beach. There is a little track that takes you thru the small buildings in the island which are the lighthouse, the keeper’s house now occupied by the Low Isles caretaker and the assistant keeper’s house that has been converted into a research station.

This complex of islets is unusual as it has a small coral cay (Low Island) and a larger uninhabited mangrove island (Woody Island). Both share the same large coral platform with a sheltered lagoon that provides excellent anchorage. Woody Island is home to thousands of birds and you can hear them at sunset when they get ready for the night sleep. It seems there is a lot of discussion about which tree belongs to whom.  

Mangroves and birds in Woody Island
The lighthouse 

The keeper’s house

Low Island sunset

East Hope Island

From Low Isles we headed to East Hope Island, another outstanding place. There are 2 public moorings there but there is good anchorage space as well. The entrance is a bit tricky but easy with good visibility. 

Arrival at the island was a bit stressful as the starboard engine decided to start beeping just when we were approaching so we had to stop that engine. Later we found the problem was once again an electrical problem and we didn’t lose the engine, just the alternator, resulting in no charging of batteries from that engine. Oh well, back to work on that engine again.

There is a nice beach and we soon went onshore and walked around the island which is quite small. 

Cairns Reef

With settled weather we decided to spend a day at Cairns Reef, a u shaped reef with easy access and great sandy patches to anchor comfortably.

We had great expectations for the snorkeling there but the tides were not helping on that day and visibility was not that good. So, there are no underwater pictures this time. 

Cape Flattery

Our last stop before Lizard, this anchorage is wide and very calm, a great stop for an overnight before the last leg just 18 miles to our destination.

The beach was busy with campers and 4WDs. We’ve been told it is a beautiful beach with white silica sand but we were tired and didn’t go ashore.   

After a magnificent sunset and good forecast for next day we were ready for the last leg, reaching the magic of Lizard Island.


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Cairns – A lively time and the family reunion

As we are making preparations to leave Cairns we can say without hesitation we like this town and have truly enjoyed our time here.

It hasn’t been a quiet time; aside from all the normal chores that one does when staying at a marina we have also enjoyed a trip to experience a little of the outback and then of course the wonderful time with the visit of our kids and grand kids.

Veronica and Andrew came first with Ethan and little Caitlyn. They stayed 3 days with us in Zenitude and fortunately the weather was good to go around. We left the marina on a beautiful morning and spent a day and the night at Upolu reef where we were lucky to get the only available mooring. 

It was exciting for Ethan but jumping from the boat into the vast ocean where fish came to check you out as soon as you have a foot in the water was just too much for a little kid. So snorkeling was soon out of the question. Ethan much rather jumped in the dinghy for a ride to the sandy patch exposed in the reef at low tide where he could run and splash.

Fish come asking for food at Upolu

Next day we decided to go to Green Island where kids could spend some time at the beach. The island was crowded as always with hundreds of people deposited there by many big charter boats but the beach was good and the night pretty quiet.

A dinghy ride to the beach in Green Island

On Saturday the second part of the family arrived, Gonzalo and Tania with the kids and not wanting to go insane, Zenitude was abandoned at the marina and we all headed to spend a couple of days at the wonderful Coconut resort where we all enjoyed father’s day and birthday celebrations.
Gonzalo, Tania, Alicia and Mark

In a week’s time everybody went back to their homes and we are back in Zenitude with hectic preparations to leave Cairns towards Lizard Island. As we are planning to receive several friends while in Lizard we are in a bit of frenzy shopping to make sure supplies last for as long as we want to stay there.  

It seems that after many days of strong winds and frequent showers a good window is opening and we should be ready to finally leave Cairns on Thursday.


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A trip to Queensland Outback – Driving along the Savannah Way

For a change we left the salty life behind and took a short trip to experience a little of the Australian outback. 

Undara Volcanic National Park – Touring the lava tubes

We arrived at Undara Experience installations just in time for lunch. We were nicely surprised by the beautiful surroundings and the great service offered by the staff. We had taken one of the packages including lunch, dinner, a night at a swag tent, the bush breakfast and 3 tours. It was a busy time which we immensely enjoyed. Check for the offerings at: www.undara.com.au - highly recommended. 

The restaurant 

Setting for bush breakfast

Champagne Sunset

Beautiful sunset in the bush

The restored train carriages

Having dinner at the train carriage restaurant

Lots of wild life around 

The swag tents

Touring the lava tubes

Chillagoe – Mungana Caves National Park

After Undara we wanted to get to Chillagoe and the challenge was to find out the best way of getting there. If you travel directly from Cairns there is no problems, just 15 km of dirt road on the 200 km trip, but going from Undara meant taking a 120 km dirt road out of Mount Pleasant. 

Oscar has a good driving record on dirt roads from our time exploring the Argentinian country so after checking the road condition with the locals we set onto the estimated 4 hours trip. Oscar did enjoy the experience. The drive was not too bad even though I wasn't quite happy in some narrow places, luckily being the dry season all creeks were dry. I can imagine you need a 4 WD for this road on the wet season.  There is also no phone coverage and we discovered people carry VHF radios when transiting these areas. We didn't met with anybody going in the same direction but we did met 4 or 5 vehicles going the other way. I was relieved when we finally arrived in Chillagoe. 

We got accommodation at the historic Chillagoe Postoffice building that has been converted into a charming guesthouse (www.chillagoeguesthouse.com.au/). As we were the only guests we had the house all to ourselves which was fantastic. The Pub across the street is one of the few places where to dine. Here we also took a package for all the tours which we split in 2 days to visit all 3 of the main caves. Quite interesting as each cave has its own characteristics. 

The charming guesthouse

The balancing rock

Does it move?

Beautiful cave formations

Here is the little bat

We left thinking we'd like to do more of this interesting Australian outback.