Barren Heaven

There is not a lot to do while we wait to be hauled out at Mackay. Yes still waiting, but changes are afoot! More on this in the next post. So let’s go back to a wild and beautiful little bit of heaven: Barren Island, one of the less frequented and more remote islands of the Keppel group. We were there a few weeks ago with family on board.

The Barren name describes what is above the water: a rugged prominent island with steep rocky slopes that plunge into the sea.

But donne the wetsuit, weights, fins and snorkel and you are in heaven: a magnificent coral garden, reminiscent of forest floors with mosses and carpets of leaves in their russet and green hues, unlike any other site we have visited.

We were blessed with good visibility despite less than ideal conditions in 20+ knots of wind and strong gusts that made the boat swing widely. We guess that the deeper water – we snorkeled down to 8 meters at low tide rather than just below the surface – has saved this reef from the terrible coral bleaching that has affected the Keppels and some of the offshore reefs. The distance from the mainland is another saving grace since Barren is the most easterly island of the Keppels. This time at Barren Island renewed our hope for reef resilience.

13 thoughts on “Barren Heaven

  1. Wow, there’s such a beautiful contrast between above and below the surface! the propeller looks like a two-blade, I thought the engine would have a three-blade. Great photos! 😎🇦🇺

    • It was HJ. But down below against the cliffs it was fine. Just the return to the boat was hard with the boat twisting around as you came close to the boarding ladder!

  2. Wow that giant clam was fantastic, such great colour. How large was it? Sounded like a difficult take off from There, too choppy eh.

    • The clam was not big but stood out in the middle of the star coral!
      Yes, ha d take care ff from that mooring… not much sleep the night before from either of us!

  3. Stunning pics Chris! Good to see you’re using your newfound breath holding skills 🙂

  4. Hi guys,

    Been following your adventures and it looks like you’ve had some great times and some frustrating times. Your pics are incredible. I hope the gear box gets sorted soon at McKay. Our gearboxes drove us nuts and in the end I replaced both engines. I feel your pain.

    Just looking for some advice. We have an older style (mid 90’s I’d guess) NKE auto pilot as our back up auto pilot. It isnt connected to anything, like windvane or speed log, but I just use it as a point and set type backup. For 5 years its been tremendous. As we sit here in Lakes Entrance preparing to leave tomorrow up the east coast, I find the NKE has lost its way. When I hold a steady course and hit auto the pilot swings the helm full lock to full lock endlessly . On one ocassion it did a complete 360 turn before going lock to lock.

    I think I read that you also have NKE, but I’m sure much newer. I don’t have the manual for mine but I have a very similar manual.

    Did you ever find an NKE installer? I’m hoping to chat with someone who might be able to talk me through a recalibration, or a setting error, whatever it is that’s making my pilot go crazy.

    If you know of anybody I’d be very grateful for their number, unless from my brief description you know what my prob may be.

    In the meantime I hope everything sorts out for you and the travel continues.

    All the best,


    Brad and Natalie SV Kitikana

    • Hey guys, so nice to hear from you. OMG we never thought we’d find another pair of NKE users, let alone you two! Yes we know and overuse the one and only NKE techo in Australia, Steve Cody at Melbourne Marine Electronics! We will talk to you shortly and message his details to you.
      Funny you talk about ending up repowering Kitikana after lots of gearbox problems… guess what’s happening with Anui!?

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