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'Over the top' of Australia: from Darwin to Cairns

December 15th, 2006 seems to be a good time to leave Darwin and to sail in the direction of Cape York. Unluckily the winds are more east as we had expected, so we spend Christmas in a quite deserted bay on Elcho Island. Our last port for 2006 is Gove in Arnhemland, aboriginal land where since the '70s daily life is all about the exploitation of the aluminium mine.
30 km long conveyer belt transports the ore and is the link between the mine and the processing plant. This the longest conveyer belt in the southern hemisphere.

From Gove on we have the winds behind us and passing the Gulf of Carpentaria is a piece of cake. Late afternoon we approach Thursday Island and we decide to take the northern passage, the Prince of Wales Channel. Early morning Jan.11 the last lights of the passage are behind us and by reaching Cape York we make a fresh start on the east coast of Australia. In the night the different lights warn for the islands and reefs around us.

Lizard Island is a beautiful place in de northern region behind the Great Barrier Reef with good anchorages, colorful underwater life and good tracks to make a make a fine walk over the island. There is also a quite tough climb to the 'Cook Lookout' from where Captain Cook searched for an opening in the Reef. The lagoon and islands around Lizard offer plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Cooktown is a pleasant little city with a lot of history. In 1770 there were the repairs of the 'Endeavour', the ship of Captain Cook that got aground on one of the many reefs before the coast. And around 1850 Cooktown was an important landing place for the gold diggers that went form there more inland to try their luck. Many buildings and monuments remind of the historic events.
From Cooktown to Cairns is a route along the beautiful reefs of Agincourt, Norman and Michaelmas Cay. Jan. 31, 2007 we anchor on the river opposite the old Yacht Club of Cairns. Since then a tropical rainfall is pouring down to wash the 'Alexandra' fresh again and to fill up the watertanks on board. When the sun comes back we explore the many shops and restaurants in Cairns.

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