It could not last: four days of blissfully calm weather have given way to four days of blowy conditions. We have retreated to Low Isles. Back to wind in the rigging, waves slapping the hulls, us getting tossed around in the chop and cabin fever threatening!
Two islands make up the Low Isles group. There is Low Isle itself, a vegetated coral cay of only 1.6 hectares, and an adjoining mangrove island of 45 hectares called Woody Island. At low tide a large reef joins the two isles together.
Although quite well protected and with three public moorings within the quasi lagoon and two further out, you don’t come to Low Isles to enjoy a secluded anchorage. As well as a few yachts taking refuge, a number of tour operators bring their loads of tourists twice a day from Port Douglas. So things get rather busy! But if you go ashore early in the morning before 8.00 am, or later in the afternoon after 4 pm, you can enjoy quieter conditions and observe the birdlife, which is plentiful. Ospreys, Beach Stone Curlews, Kingfishers, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels are some of the birds you will see. Here is a slideshow of a few we photographed.
A lovely sight at the end of each day is the return of the Pied Imperial Pigeons to their nests on Woody Island. Successive flocks come streaming in for an hour before sunset.
From the state of our bows and the racket at night, you can see that a few of the seabirds also enjoy a rest on Anui, particularly the Sooty Terns!
The views from Low Isles towards the mainland range are stunning. This is looking towards the Daintree Rainforest area at low tide, then at high tide at sunset.
It was interesting to discover that in 1928 Low Isles was the sight of the first detailed scientific study of a coral reef anywhere in the world. Because of this it provides a very important baseline for current climate change research. We suspect an updated study at Low Isles these days would show much damage to the 22 hectares of surrounding reef! It might have been declared a green zone to aid its recovery, but it is a sorry sight right now. This is the worst we have seen, the effect of coastal run off.
We went in the water for some exercise and that’s about it! We pity the many tourists who pay good money to come here from Port Douglas. They may well enjoy the short walk around the island and the birdlife, but the snorkel would leave a lot to be desired!
Where to next?
Probably back out to the reef! We were talking to a local yachtie who recommended a spot at Batt Reef. Another option is to go a little way up the Daintree River or Dickson Inlet at Port Douglas, but we are scared of midges, sand-flies and crocs, although just quietly I’d love to see a ‘toothy’ from the boat.
So we are here for another day, then we’ll see how the weather develops. In any case we are hanging around the area, within easy reach of Cairns, as we are picking up family there on 20 September, then heading south.