Goodbye Australia Fair.

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First glimpse of an Australian Icon.

As I write we are crossing the Tasman Sea heading towards the Land of the Long White Cloud. But more on that later.

We have rounded the very northern tip of Australia and travelled down the entire east coast taking the inland route through the Great Barrier Reef. Our first stop was Darwin in the Northern Territories then Cairns, Townsville, Whitsunday Islands, Mooloolaba, Sydney, Phillip Island and finally Melbourne. Unfortunately I had to cancel Mooloolaba due to the swell being too much to ensure a safe transfer for our guests onto the tenders.

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Australian Reef Pilot Captain Ian Perry and I relaxing in Cairns.

We had an overnight in Cairns. Debbie went touring into the hinterland on a train and cable car and whilst the first day was hot and wet the second day was hot and dry. With easy access to the corals of the barrier reef this is a popular spot for taking boats out to see the natural wonder.

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This was by all accounts a stunning journey into the bush.

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I on the other hand used the time in port to catch up with my inspections and paperwork, walk the ship and talk to the guests that chose to remain onboard. A quiet night in was just what was needed as well. Nothing exciting but most relaxing! The run though the barrier reef is stunning. It is difficult to capture the colours of the waters caused by reefs just under the surface. Patches of turquoise water give their presence away. There are only a very few navigable routes through the reef hence the reason we employ the services of a specialist pilot to guide us. Ian perry joined us in Darwin and left with the Mooloolaba pilot at the northern end of Moreton Bay.

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The Whitsunday Islands.

We anchored for the day at Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Island group. It was an idyllic spot. Spring tides sluiced the water at a great rate between the coral heads which gave our tender boat drivers a few challenges. Rates up to 3 knots meant the water swirled, twisted and turned all around us. When the guests got ashore an island paradise awaited them.

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Hamilton Island. Picture postcard perfect.

The next stop was Mooloolaba in Queensland. When we got to the anchorage it was evident that the swell running in from the open sea was going to be too much to safely run our tenders. However, I launched the tenders and rigged the platform and ran the stern thrusters to see if there was any way we could operate a service safely. My sister in Law was waiting ashore for my wife, her sister to meet up. No pressure! As soon as a wave washed over the platform that was it. I had to cancel.

We picked up our boats and anchor and set off south to Sydney where we docked the night before we were scheduled too. At least it gave the guests a chance to enjoy the run into this truly iconic harbour even though the weather did its best to spoil it.

We said farewell to many guests, some who had travelled from Athens or Dubai or Singapore or Bali.

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Does this place need any introduction. Surely the most recognisable profile on earth.

Next stop was Phillip Island and Melbourne in the State of Victoria.

As Aotearoa gets nearer I am getting quite excited. The prospect of visiting Milford Sound again is very exciting. I have been into that sound so many times but I never ever get tired of it. Its magnificent.

I am nearly home.

Mark Dexter 2015