Tuesday, 21 June 2011

North Reef Expedition - the countdown begins...

The iconic image of a lone lighthouse on a tropical island, some 110km off the Queensland Coast, makes a tempting target for a sea paddler. Unprotected by the reef, and subject to shifting & largely unpredictable currents which give birth to East Australian Current, the area is a renowned rough water seaway best avoided when things aren't all lined up in the mariners' favour.
Throw into the mix a fairly set single passage taking advantage of prevailing, but generally very strong trade winds, three separate crossings in open, demanding water exceeding 70km, and a series of island reefs to safely negotiate in the face of breaking ocean swell, a total distance pushing towards 400km, and all the ingredients are there for a brilliant & demanding short term expedition.
Standing high on the shoulders of Gary Forrest, Paul Wilton & Eddie Safarik who last year safely negotiated the route from Fraser Island to Heron Island, Chris James, Rob Mercer & I will shove off the northern shore of Fraser Island next month attempting to push a couple of islands further up the Bunker chain, with the aim of reaching the distant North Reef Lighthouse. As far as we're aware, neither North Reef or it's close neighbour North West Island have ever been reached by kayakers before.
Heron Island
We'll all be paddling Rockpool Tarans, a boat used to great effect recently by Jeff Allen & Harry Whelan to smash the record for an Around Ireland circumnavigation. We aim to follow a line from Rooneys Point on Fraser Island, 88km out to Lady Elliot Island, then a further 45km to Lady Musgrave, followed by 70km across the no-landing marine islands in the chain to Heron, then on to North Reef, North West Island & hopefully back to the mainland via a 78km crossing to Great Keppel.
Our support so far from the good people at Queensland National Parks has been brilliant, as has the welcome promised by Peter Gash & his team on Lady Elliot Island & John Johanson & the staff on Heron Island. 
I'll be posting updates over the coming month on various aspects of the trip, including the training we've all undertaken & various destination islands. The expedition will be blogged in real time with updates live via a Spot Messenger & sat phone feeds, so everyone will be able to follow our progress.
Any information on these islands & waterways would be very much appreciated, please contact us if you have anything to offer!

1 comment:

  1. Mark,Chris, Rob
    All the best - we'll be with you (in spirit at least) - Owen and Anne

    ReplyDelete