Over 70% of our blue planet is simply water. However, not all of it is sailable. Sailors rely on good winds and navigable currents, which are rare enough, when you look at the big picture. Things are easier near land, and the horizon is certainly lusher. Australia is a large country, but a small continent, and the majority of its coastal transportation is done over water. You can trust any Aussie to be in touch with all the best places to spend a weekend sailing.
Most Australian sailing is done around the densely populated east coast, and Sydney is the largest city on the water’s edge. Obviously, most sailing trips start there. Sydney Harbour is a magnificent sight of man-made construction blending into the vast ocean. The city is best approached from the Harbour, for the full experience. And setting off from the Harbour is the first step to exploring one of the many popular sailing nooks nearby. Starting with Manly Heads and then the bays, Watsons, Vaucluse, Rose Bay, Double Bay, Rushcutters bay and then Sydney Cove, before finally returning to the city and the Circular Quay. It is a very busy Harbour, for the better and the worse. A lot can happen there to the unwary foreign sailor, not all of it pleasant, so it is wise to be careful – though this is the same advice you can give anyone, at any given port, or larger city.
A two hour flight from Sydney would get you to the sailing heaven of not only Australia, but the world – the Whitsunday Islands. The best thing about going for a day trip to the Whitsundays is that the quality of the trip does not depend on the quality of your vessel. You could be on a custom built boat or on a chartered boat with a group of other tourists, but the Whitsundays will remain as beautiful. They were not named for the fine white sand that covers them, but they might as well have.
The next destination is in Queensland, and it is the Great Sandy Strait – an estuary separating the World Heritage Site Fraser Island from the mainland. Though the name brings forth thoughts about shipwrecks, the Sandy Strait is more pleasurable sailing than sandy sailor-bait. Berthing on Fraser island does not come for free (it is around $25 per day), but it is a great way to explore its numerous inland lakes, mangroves and estuaries. The 325 different kinds of birds will keep an adventurer busy for a long time, but that is merely the start. Fraser Island is that is the famous home of the wild dingoes, echidnas, possums, wallabies and flying foxes.
Going further south, a willing sailor will encounter the island of Tasmania, or Tassie as the locals call it. There are more than a few nice spots in the region – D’entrecasteaux Channel is a real must for a serious sailor. Geographically, it is close to Bruny Island and it is heavenly. The waters around Bruny and D’entrecasteaux are most often tranquil. For some more action, however, February is the season for the famous Bruny Island Race to watch or participate in. Tasmanian beaches are less commercial and furnished than the ones on the mainland, which only means they are charming in a more natural way. And when company is needed, there is always a local pub to visit for a pint.
There are many more wonderful places to sail around in Australia, but the last destination on this list is on the other side of the continent, in the region of Western Australia. The glorious Geographe Bay is a place where the sky above is painted bright blue and warm, and sandy beaches are discreet and remote. Getting seafood anywhere in coastal Australia is a safe bet, the fish is always fresh. In Western Australia, however, the art of the seafood platter is mastered, and washed down with a fine vintage of Cape Mantel wine.