It's official, after almost 9 months we have finally left Australia!
The last week has been the
usual scramble getting things prepared for a long passage.
We had planned to leave Saturday, but found we needed the extra time to finish everything. So, having completed all tasks, at exactly 10:34 AM with our duty-free goods and fuel, we dropped our lines and pushed away from the customs dock in Darwin.
Our next stop will be the island of Cocos Keeling, 2000 miles west of Australia and half way across the Indian Ocean. All things being equal, if we can maintain 7 knots we should be able to make it in 12
days. We are expecting clear weather with the usual Southeast trade winds of 15-20 knots, so this should not be a problem. But then again, we're at the mercy of Mother Nature, so anything can happen.
we're all excited to be sailing again, there is an overwhelming feeling of melancholy among the crew.
Suzie is leaving her home, friends and family, while Bill and I are leaving a magical country that we have developed strong attachments to. It is difficult to describe, but leaving new friends and places when you're on a boat is a bit different than departing any other way. Out here you experience the highest highs and the lowest lows, but it's all a part of the journey and we wouldn't want it any other way.
On a brighter note, we all had an incredible time in the Kakadu National Park last week.
While Mark went on his own, Bill, Suzie, Jamie, Nick and I went on a different tour. So, last Thursday morning we all piled into a 2 engine Cessna 402 and took off for Kakadu. The majority of the people visiting the park drive in but we think that flying in offers a much different perspective. We were able to see the topography of the land, including the Adelaide and South Alligator Rivers, the enormous flood plains, the ever changing billabongs and a big old Uranium mine that was allowed to be built right in the middle of the park.
Once we arrived at the Jabiluka airstrip we were picked up by the bus that would take us around.
Over the course of the next two days we saw the incredible landscape that has been home to the Aboriginal people for more than 40,000 years. The most stunning part of their culture are the drawings that they made on the rock walls. The drawings depict nearly every aspect of their lives, from the fish that they caught to the wars that they fought. Archeologists have had a difficult time telling how old many of them are, mainly because carbon-dating is ineffective on the non-organic compounds of the pigments used. In some cases the drawings themselves tell the period in which they were made.
The other amazing part of this area of Australia is the extreme weather that they experience. They have the wet season and the dry season. The wet season is from October through May and it hardly stops
raining the entire time. The result is massive flooding that only recedes when it stops. Then, during the dry season the place turns into a desert, creating the billabongs that are left.
of the last sights was a tour of the Uranium mine. It was interesting to learn the processes that they use to refine it, however it is unfortunate that the mine exists smack in the middle of such a beautiful park.
As I right this, there are about 600 protesters camped out near the proposed sight of a new mine by the same company. Something tells me that the mine will open anyway. It is truly amazing what governments will allow, even in protected areas.
Kakadu may have been the last hoorah of our stay in Australia, but hopefully it is just a preview of the National parks of Africa. The geography is somewhat similar, however where it's different is the
Kakadu's wallaroos (a cross between a kangaroo and a wallaby), crocodiles and goannas (lizards) do not even compare to the different species of large animals found in Africa. Don't worry, our cameras will be ready to take some amazing photos, which of course you can expect to see on the OOB web site.
In the mean time, thank you all for staying with us.
Hang on, because we're only half way home and we've got a lot more to go. We will be giving daily updates on our progress to Cocos via the PinOak e-mail system....that is, if we can get it working. We could not test it properly in the marina so we'll have to wait until we're off shore.
Alex for the crew of Out of Bounds
Bill, Suzie, Mark & Lucy the dog