Jack and Jude's favourite cruising spots
29th June 2021 Jessica Watson
Jack and Jude Binder have a lifetime of experience travelling, exploring and sailing. They raised their family on their yacht Banyandah and have circumnavigated Australia many times, twice in the last decade alone. They describe Australia as unique, saying ‘From the well-developed east coast, tropical north, arid west and temperate south, Australia is a land filled with great diversity and spectacular beauty.
Even better for sailors, Australia's coastline stretches nearly 60,000 km and is linked by over 10,000 beaches, more than any other country in the world. What a wonderful place to be a yachtie!’
When I asked Jack and Jude if they could tell me a little about their all-time favourite anchorage I didn’t get the response I was expecting, but what I did get is four favourites and some fantastic insights that make me want to head off around Australia in their footsteps!
Here’s what this legendary cruising couple had to say:
"When Jess asked us if we had one all-time favourite Australian anchorage, Jude simply shook her head. ‘How can anyone have just one favourite anchorage in a country as vast and diverse as ours?’ Here are four of our favourites."
Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania
In the south where wild winds can blow, Macquarie Harbour on the west coast of Tasmania offers ultimate protection in a landlocked waterway six times larger than Sydney Harbour. Surrounded by magical scenery and true grit history, there’s also twenty-mile access along a world heritage river with rainforest to the water’s edge. Facilities at Strahan, the only town gracing its shores, are limited but adequate for everyday needs with a well-stocked supermarket, several mechanics, a pharmacy and clinic.
Named by convicts interned there in the 1820s, Hell’s Gate, the notoriously narrow entrance into Macquarie Harbour, is not as scary as its name suggests. Sure, Tassie’s weather has its bad moments, but Cape Sorrel protects Hell’s Gate from the worst of it. Just do not attempt to enter during strong northerly winds. Best time to visit – January through March.
King George River, Kimberley
In the tropical north, the King George River passes through Kimberley red rock in awesome displays of power and beauty. After transiting a short, straight river bar protected within a bay, you are safe to explore the river to the twin waterfalls and further on foot into the hinterland that lies beyond. For an experience you’ll never forget, swim in a colossal freshwater pool surrounded by vertical cliffs after first scaling a waterfall at the end of East Arm, then explore the world’s oldest and best rock art further up that normally dry creek.
Albany, Western Australia
Friendly and picturesque Albany, the oldest city in WA, is beautifully cocooned in a lucky cloverleaf of three connected natural harbours. Explore landlocked Oyster Harbour from free moorings next to Mount Martin Botanical Reserve, or look for whales’ teeth on the beaches of King George Sound, first discovered by Vancouver in 1791. Moor inside Princess Royal Harbour at the modern marina central to town and enjoy excellent shopping, fine restaurants and Saturday morning farmer’s market within a short walk. The world-famous Bibbulmun Track starts there with camping in SW State Forests all the way to Perth.
Coral Sea reefs and islets, Queensland
Over the years as the rent-a-boat mob have added more pain to the loss of good diving from coral bleaching, we now prefer the Coral Sea islets that still offer great diving and good fishing in safe trade wind anchorages. Our favourite route takes in historical Wreck Reefs where, in 1803, the Porpoise ran aground while carrying Matthew Flinders home with all his newly made charts and specimens, followed by Kenn Reef’s superb mid-ocean lagoon filled with budding new sand isles, then East Diamond Islet, the best Coral Sea anchorage, where huge flocks of seabirds inhabit the low vegetation.
We are blessed that Australia has something for every sailor. So never mind circumnavigating our troubled world; be bold and circumnavigate Australia instead.