Cheerio OZ!! The World ARC fleet has certainly enjoyed their time in the Land Down Under! Cruising the Great Barrier Reef was a highlight for many World ARC participants and the final stopover in Darwin continued to impress.
Cullen Bay Marina in Darwin provided a perfect backdrop for the fleet to relax, enjoy Darwin city, tend to boat repair needs and explore the greater surrounds of the Northern Territory of Australia, otherwise known as the “Top End”.
On Wednesday, the official programme kicked off with a crew dinner at Seafood on Cullen overlooking the southern portion of Fannie Bay and out to the Beagle Gulf. The fleet enjoyed an endless selection of seafoods, steaks and a variety of local cuisine at possibly the best all you can eat buffet. There was even a chocolate fountain which was the clear favourite of Inez from Take Off
Thursday morning participants enjoyed a boat cruise down the Adelaide River where we were able to witness the “Saltie” crocodiles in their natural habitat. Fortunately we were able to see many babies and juveniles as it had just been birthing season. The little ones can be so very cute yet it is important to recognize that they are still one of the most dangerous animals in the world, even the small ones! Our local guide shared a wealth of information about the ecological systems in the area and how they have changed over the years. On route to the river we passed fields with wild wallabies, buffalo, cows and dozens of bird species. Spectacular scenery surrounded us everywhere.
Later that evening, Cullen Bay Marina, together with the World Cruising Club, hosted a lovely sunset welcome reception in their waterfront courtyard. Carmen King, Marina Manager, welcomed the World ARC participants, shared local information and truly opened the doors of the marina to assist the fleet with whatever they may need. Wonderful hosts indeed. Andrew Bishop of World Cruising Club also made an official welcome to the boats re-joining the fleet, Solo and Toujours Belle, and offered a hearty congratulations for those who just completed the first half of their world circumnavigation.
Purposefully, the weekend was “schedule free” to allow the fleet time to explore the amazing Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks. Litchfield is conveniently located an hour and a half drive from Darwin and boasts amazing waterfalls, magnetic termite mounds and historic ruins. The crystal clear swimming holes and nice bushwalking trails make Litchfield a favourite among locals. Kakadu is a World Heritage listed National Park that covers 20,000 square kilometres with very diverse habitats and breathtaking landscapes. Many find the ancient rock art and stories of the Aboriginal tribes fascinating. Some chose the campervan experience, others an organized tour - that is the beauty - something for everyone here in Australia!
On Sunday evenings in Darwin, Mindil Beach is THE PLACE TO BE. Renowned for the magnificent tropical sunset, the Mindil Beach Market provides visitors and locals a vibrant, friendly and stimulating environment to enjoy culinary delights and peruse artisan crafts. Live entertainment includes street performers, live bands and cultural fire shows. Many of the participants were able to experience this fabulous market and take home some unique souvenirs from Darwin.
Monday was a busy day getting prepared to depart and sail onward. As anticipated, Australian Border Force completed the customs and immigration check out procedure in a timely manner and the reality set in that it was time to say goodbye to Australia. Monday afternoon, the skipper’s briefing was held at Lola’s in the marina’s restaurant row, followed by a surprise birthday celebration for Dietmar of Cesarina.
With the assistance of Rally Control and the expert Lockmaster Robby, all boats “locked out” of Cullen Bay Marina this morning in preparation for the start of Leg 9. The World ARC fleet made their way to Frances Bay and Rally Control set up the race start at Stokes Hill Wharf. Under blue skies and 6-8 knots of light breeze from the east, all spectator eyes were on Arabela
to see who would cross the start line first. At the last moment, Arabela
pulled ahead and secured the number one spot. Third across the line was Toujours Belle
followed closely by Tulla Mhor
in fourth place. Lots of “thanks you” and “see you soon” messages were shared and now 15 World ARC boats are en route to Lombok, Indonesia, looking forward to the adventure and experiences that await them there.