Keppel Bay to Mackay – Part 2

This is Part 2 of our trip from Keppel Bay Marina to Mackay. This part covers from Island Head Creek to Hexam Island, then to Middle Percy Island and Curlew Island, and finally into Mackay. 

Part 1 covered the cruise from Keppel Bay Marina to Port Clinton and to Island Head Creek, where we stayed for five nights. Click to go to Part 1

Island Head Creek to Hexam Island - Tuesday 1 June

  • After five nights, winter had arrived, the weather had improved as had Robert’s leg, and it was time to leave. Here’s a short video as we were leaving Island Head Creek.
  • Approximately 28NM from Island Head Creek to Hexam Island and took us about 4 hours.
  • It was still a little windy, about 20-25 knots.
  • In hindsight, the side of the bay we anchored in probably copped more swell from the sea coming around the island, but our flopper stoppers worked well.

Here’s our location in Google Maps and a short video of our anchorage.

Here are some of my favourite photos.

A slideshow of other photos I liked from Island Head Creek to Hexam Island, but couldn’t decide whether to include! So I did. 

Hexam to Middle Percy Island - Wednesday 2 June

  • Approximately 24NM from Hexam Island to Middle Percy Island and took us about 3.5 hours. 
  • A unique, quirky, popular island with an A-frame shelter where, over the years, people have left boat memorabilia. 
  • The ‘grantees’ (kind of like caretakers) have recently taken up residence on the island and their sailing boat, now moored in the lagoon, had arrived with a couple of quad bikes on the bow! 
  • You can buy fresh eggs and honey on the island. 

Here’s our location in Google Maps and a short video of our anchorage.

Some photos taken between Hexam and Middle Percy Island.

At Middle Percy Island

Middle Percy Island has an interesting history and is an island I will definite revisit. Rather than me try to explain the history to you, take a look at these articles that I’m sure you’ll find interesting. 

  • In the 1960s, an Eton-educated eccentric leased an idyllic Queensland island and settled into a self-sufficient paradise. Three decades on, he decided he needed to rescue England from God’s wrath – and a nightmare began. Read the SMH article here.
  • Read about the new ‘grantees’ of the island and see some amazing drone footage from this Middle Percy Island link. 

The well known a-frame yacht club , and an old shed that was there before the a-frame was built, and these two structures contain hundreds of plaques and memorabilia from visiting yachts. There’s a kitchen and a hammock in the a-frame and behind the structure, there’s also a fireplace with bbq facilities. Judging by all the memorabilia, there’s clearly been a lot of visitors to the island over the years.  And I believe the night before we arrived, the visitors enjoyed a goat curry. 

Other photos at Middle Percy Island, including my sunset attempts since we were on the western side of the bay.

Middle Percy to Curlew Island - Thursday 3 June

  • Approximately 24NM from Middle Percy Island to Curlew Island and took us just under 4 hours. 
  • No curlews seen or heard at the island!
  • The anchorage is protected by Tinonee bank on the north/west side.
  • We saw another couple kayak/use a stand-up paddle board (SUP), so I figured it was safe enough to use my kayak too (Robert still taking care with his leg).
  • The conditions were amazing when we arrived, so calm, but at 3am everything changed and the wind/swell was causing us to “hobby horse” on anchor. We weren’t rocking side to side, but rather bow to stern. 

Here’s our location in Google Maps and a short video of our anchorage.

  • Here are some of my favourite pics taken on the way to Curlew Island.
  • The “pimp my boat” photo is a boat that arrived at Middle Percy later in the evening and had their blue flashing lights on the entire night, but luckily they were far enough away from us that we weren’t bothered by them.
  • Had I not been told we could anchor there, I would have been quite dubious because of the depth shown on our Garmin chart.

After we sorted our anchorage, I went kayaking and below are some of my beach photos. You can see how calm it was on 3/6. 

Then, compare with the short video taken the following morning.

It’s definitely an anchorage where you need to be aware of the changing weather conditions.

Curlew Island to Mackay - Friday 4 June

  • Approximately 46NM from Curlew Island to Mackay and took us about 6 hours. 
  • Mackay is famous for its history as one of Australia’s largest sugarcane farming regions but in recent years, the mining industry has become the mainstay of the local economy.
  • Despite the changes to the weather conditions at Curlew, the sunrise was magical. 

But what amazed me when we were heading to Mackay were the number of ships waiting to enter port at Hay Point Coal Terminal

There were so many sitting there on anchor, and we were going to pass straight through their anchorage area!  Occasionally you’d hear them talking on VHF, asking if anyone on board had symptoms of COVID-19. No one had.

When we reached Mackay Port, there was a ship leaving so we had to hang around until it had manoeuvred out. Judging by the size of it, this was a quite a feat. 

Staying in Mackay

After our 9-nights on anchor coming up from Keppel Bay, we planned to stay in Mackay for about a week, do some provisioning, plan our route to Airlie Beach, and also top up the fuel tanks. 

I know some people are amazed at the amount of fuel we use, but if you consider how much you might put in your car/s each week and then work that out across the year, the amount is quite similar. Notwithstanding those of you who cycle, use public transport, or have electric vehicles!

We enjoyed Mackay, and there are a lot of businesses that cater to the needs of the cruising/sailing community. The Mackay Marina also has a car you can hire for half/full day at a very competitive rate. The body looks rather tired but the engine is sound!

While we were staying at the marina, one Sunday afternoon a number of bag pipers were playing from a catamaran going up and down the marina. 

Unfortunately they weren’t very close to where we were berthed, but I managed to take a short video and get a couple of photos, because it’s not something you see everyday! 

Where to next?

We’re heading to Airlie Beach via the Whitsundays!

4 Responses

  1. Your life is definitely interesting.
    What, if any, memorabilia, did you leave at Middle Percy Island.

  2. Middle Percy looks like a good place to hang out, and the bagpipe boat sounds a bit quirky too. I hope your leg is improving Robert. Best wishes from May

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