Sheltering at Fitzroy Island

We left the Outer Reef after two days of enjoying the wonderful marine environment at Milln Reef. We needed to take shelter for a few days of strong wind and chose to sail to Fitzroy Island, not far from Cairns.

Welcome Bay

It is really satisfying when the weather works with you and you get the wind angle and strength for where you’d like to go. We had a great, effortless sail: reefed main and jib, beam swell, doing 9 and 10 knots speed without even trying, which took us to Fitzroy island in two hours. We are so lucky to have found Anui!

Looking towards Cape Grafton

We did not expect much once there, the island being a popular spot for tourists and so close to the mainland. Daytrippers come from Cairns by the ferry load multiple times a day. But it was lovely: good sheltered bay, palm trees lining the sandy beach, reasonably clear water over a fringing reef, rainforest covering the hills and a few walking tracks. It had a nice feel. We thought we’d tackle the walks during the next couple of days of blowy weather, may be even sample the local eatery.

But while the conditions were still calm, we decided to go for a snorkel from the back of the boat and I nearly did not take my camera… close to the mainland, nothing is going to compare to where we had just been! Well, what a surprise! No, the reef was not in good condition and the visibility was not great… lots of algae, but…

As soon as we were in the water there were schools of all sorts of fish: surgeonfish, angelfish, triggerfish…. lots of new finds.

Bluespine Unicornfish School
Sixband Angelfish, an old favourite
Hawaiian Triggerfish, a new find
Feeding frenzy

Hello Turtles!

However the best experience by far was the many Green Sea Turtles we saw. They are used to people here and aren’t scared of human presence. They swim next to you, towards you, around you rather than darting off in a huff if you get too close. There are lots of them and they are a joy to photograph! So much so that we were in the water for an hour and a half… just enjoying their company and forgetting everything else. We hope you enjoy this slideshow!

  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Green Sea Turtle close up
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Green Sea Turtle about to surface
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Green Sea Turtle
  • Green Sea Turtle about to surface

Having had our fix of those endearing creatures, as the wind picked up we went walking! Oh boy, what a steep island! We know where we’d rather be: weightless in the water! But here are a few shots from our walks to the Summit, the Secret Garden and Nudie Beach.

So what’s next?

Back to the Reef again of course – yes we are addicted!

We left for Flynn Reef on Friday, the furthest yellow patch east of Cairns on the map and if the weather allows we will visit Michaelmas Cays. So get your wetsuit on and your camera charged and join us for some more amazing reef explorations!

16 thoughts on “Sheltering at Fitzroy Island

  1. I’m loving your blog, and vicariously revisiting places we cruised in Nimrod, our cat since sold.

    Russell Island
    Port Douglas to Fitzroy Island
    Lizard Island
    Willie Gordon rock art tour
    Yorkey’s Knob to Cooktown
    In Cook’s wake

    My only comment about your underwater photography, apart from ‘amazing!’ is that tweaking the white balance might be worth experimenting with. So many underwater shots come out looking a bit blue.

    Kind regards,

    Dave Straton

  2. Concur. Great Shots! I am a turtle lover and I am very jealous! We haven’t done the summit walk (yet) but the other walks are lovely.

  3. Hi Chris, I have wetsuit on! Actually just giving it a test before a trip to the Keppels next week.
    Love the turtle shots. Must have been very special getting up that close & personal.
    Fair weather for your remaining reef adventures.

    • Good on you Graham – have fun at the Keppels! A favourite region of ours – in fact there is an article about them coming up in Australian Multihull World in the September/October issue.
      But you probably know them well already. If not, email me and I’ll send you a copy.

      The turtles at Fitzroy were unbelievable in their numbers and tame behaviour. A real treat!

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