Sailing may well be one of the oldest forms of boating, yet it will never lose its charm. PHIL ROSS provides a cruising overview of our island home…
Australia is steeped in maritime lore. While the original inhabitants may have walked into Australia over an ancient land bridge, ever since then the vast majority of Australia’s history has been inextricably linked to the sea.
A continent that is an island isolated from the rest of the world by sea; a contradiction that owes much of its industry, language, ethos and global outlook to this ‘tyranny of distance’.
Discovered by the Dutch, then claimed by the British, it was on ships with tall masts and sails, powered by the wind, that brought European settlers to Australia.
Nowadays most visitors to our shores who arrive by boat do so to explore its myriad coastal destinations. Whether it be mangrove swamps of the Northern Territory or historical penal colonies of southern Tasmania, the pristine waters of the Abrolhos of Western Australia or even the harsh landscapes of southern ocean Antarctic islands, cruising under sail is a magical way to travel.
Being so far from the rest of the developed world has dictated our own development. This, in turn, provides unique opportunities for the cruising fraternity – be they local sailors or international visitors.
Stop for the nght in Refuge Cove, Tasmania, and chances are you can swap a carton of beer with a local fisherman for a delicious fresh lobster. Park your tender in the mangroves off Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, and you can almost catch a barramundi by hand. Stop over at Shark Bay in Western Australia and hand feed a dolphin. The list is virtually endless and includes internationally-recognised places such as the Great Barrier Reef, Wilson's Promontory, Kangaroo Island, Esperance and many more.
Most of Australia’s cruising destinations are reachable by yacht – and you can find them anchored in hundreds of small bays throughout the country on any given weekend. Safe harbours of untouched natural beauty are within easy reach of extensive boating facilities and support industries.
If the natural solitude is not for you, not to worry. The nautical heritage of this country ensures the major towns and cities lie predominantly along the coastal seaboard. All have numerous marina facilities on their doorsteps to cater for any size yacht. Cruising through Sydney Harbour heads and right into the heart of Australia’s largest city is easy, as is sailing into Perth’s Swan River.
SAIL DOWN UNDER
As the largest boat-owning per capita country in the world, Australia has a mature support industry for all types of boats. There are currently over 300 marinas around our shores, for example.
Whether visiting for long stayovers in an ocean-going yacht or town-hopping the coast in a 30-footer during summer… cruising to out-of-the-way places in a new production yacht or trailering your ‘pride and joy’ 18-footer to a coastal lake system for the weekend, Australia has it all.
The cruising lifestyle is truly what you make it…