Fremantle, Perth – Albany, Western Australia: When Riviera owner Andrew Luxton motored into Perth aboard his Riviera 51 Enclosed Flybridge Prime Mover, he didn’t expect his adventures to be so widely known. But it seems there are a lot of Riviera Experience readers and Facebook followers out there captivated by Andrew’s epic circumnavigation of Australia ….
This amazing journey began in December 2013 and to date has covered 8177nm from his home port in Melbourne to some absolutely spectacular destinations in Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
The total voyage of some 9000nm will be complete later this month when Prime Mover crosses The Great Australian Bight from south west to south east – quite a feat in itself!
In this edition, we share details from Leg 8 of Prime Mover’s journey: Perth to Albany, a distance of 463nm which involves some sight-seeing with friends and catch-ups with fellow members of our global Riviera family of luxury motor yacht owners.
BACK ABOARD … FINALLY
The well-travelled Riviera 51 Enclosed Flybridge Prime Mover had been sitting in Fremantle a bit longer than expected when Andrew Luxton finally set foot back aboard after 10 weeks home in Melbourne.
He was very eager to start this next leg of his 9000nm voyage anti-clockwise around Australia – one which had begun almost 14 months prior to mark his milestone 50th birthday – so Andrew arrived in Perth a few days before his wife, Jayne, and began preparations.
Generator serviced – check. Other minor repairs – check. Gear oils changed – check. Jayne arrived safely – check. Time to enjoy a few quiet days at Rottnest Island.
“As usual the wind did not stop blowing,” says Andrew of the seasonal summer weather at Rottnest, famous as a haven for the Australian marsupial, the quokka, which is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species.
“On our last night at Rottnest, we had dinner with Greg and Helen Cook who happened to be in Perth on holiday, and close family friend Michelle and her husband, Paul. With local barramundi (thanks Paul and Michelle) and a bottle of Penfolds 389, another great dinner was had on Prime Mover.”
Back at Aquarama Marine at Fremantle, and with final preparations now complete, Michelle, Paul and their daughter Saasha arrived for a cruise up the Swan River past the old Swan Brewery to the Narrows Bridge at Perth CBD.
“With some great photos taken (thanks Saasha) and added to the blog it was time to return at night-fall to Aquarama Marina for the night, and down the road to a local pub on the Swan River for dinner.”
The trip up Swan River must have been good, because when Leg 8 crew Simon and Cheryl Kelly arrived the next day, they repeated the excursion.
“Simon & Cheryl have done many miles with Prime Mover around Australia and are used to all the operational systems and … I almost forgot, they are also good company!”
“With a quick stock-take we departed in the rental car to go past the supermarket, grog shop and, of course, Tackle World and with stores secured away on the boat we all went down to Fremantle to show the Kelly’s around.
“We departed the wharf at Aquarama Marina at 5 pm for a cruise up the Swan River, and then picked up a public mooring for the night, turned on the BBQ and a glass of red wine.
“What a great first night out on the water … and with no wind!”
THE SHOW MUST GO ON …
“With no wind and oily smooth water – and the clearest water you would ever see in your life – we could not get a better start to the trip,” Andrew recorded in his blog.
“With many photos taken, swimming and cruising around in Mini Mover 2, this would be the best day I have had in South Western Australia.
“We shifted on to Thompson Bay where the main settlement is located and rented a mooring for the night and went ashore to the pub.
“With a great outlook across the beach and cold Coronas, what a great first day on Leg 8!”
BACK TO ‘NORMAL’
The respite from the wind was short-lived, unfortunately … yet Andrew and his crew were not about to let 20-30-knots gales blow away their progress … or their fun.
“The deck crane has stopped working so we can not lift the dinghy off to go ashore,” Andrew wrote. “Have we got a new plug, solder, soldering iron, shrink wrap, heat gun, and tools? The answer is “yes’ to all, with the back-up to the back-up working well.
“One hour later we were in Mini Mover 2 and heading ashore.”
The subsequent one-hour wait to hire bicycles and the peddle to the Rottnest lighthouse was well worth it.
“On arrival we were treated to great views, and did the lighthouse tour with Ian our guide. The lighthouse was built in 1896, the second one built on the site. It reminded me of Deal Island but it is still operational and in very good order.”
After lunch it was off to Mandurah, with a small and messy swell the 34nm trip was a very wet and slow ride to meet up with fellow members of the global family of Riviera owners.
“Shane met us from the Riviera 53 Live Wire and we all went up to the club bar for dinner and drinks – it was incredible – the crowd inside the club and the friendly atmosphere,” said Andrew.
“I am also happy to report Cheryl, with some different sea sickness drugs, sat up in the flybridge for the first time while under way, and was not sick!”
Andrew said his one regret at this point of Leg 8 was not staying in Mandurah a few days longer to take a look around, and attend R Marine Mandurah’s beach party.
“With three Riv 51’s parked on the end pier it was an impressive sight, but we had to push on to the R Marine Perth annual Getaway to Busselton, where we will join 22 other Riviera owners.”
Hugging the coastline in great conditions, Andrew reports a very quick ride at 20 knots, a contrast to the fact that since leaving Cairns Prime Mover has spent most of her time at 8-10 knots.
“On arrival at the marina we set up amongst the Riviera flags, and waited for all the other Rivieras to arrive,” he said. “Simon cooked a rack of lamb and drinks were had by all along the wharf, with Prime Mover being well known by all following the trip around Australia from Riviera’s Experience magazine.
“Our favourite Riviera belonged to Jason and Julie, who had brought their three young children along for the trip. The boat had a live bait tank with blue light, Nemo and live crabs, hammock, swing … and the children were in a water-filled inflatable they used as a bath out in the cockpit.”
WHAT A PARTY!
The first day of the R Marine Perth Geographe Bay Getaway started off slowly, reports Andrew, but then the entertainment got under way.
“With fresh oysters, champagne, live entertainment, plenty of finger food, and Brad Blaze the speed-painter, it was a fantastic night. Brad speed-painted Bono, Elvis, and Pink, each painting taking just three to four minutes to complete.
“Then, I thought an earth-moving auction had started but it was Gary auctioning the paintings to the highest bidder with the money being donated to the local Coastguard and Variety.”
Andrew also recorded: “It’s not often you meet another Luxton, but at the annual R Marine Perth Getaway were David and Janice Luxton. Dave is also in earth-moving and … a ‘poor bloody boat-owner’.
“After the event we all partied on Gatsby – a Riviera 5800 Sport Yacht … and it was a night to remember!”
The next few days were spent fishing and sight-seeing, including a trip to the 150-year-old Busselton Jetty which, at 1841m long, is the longest wooden pile jetty in the Southern Hemisphere … and then on to Quindalup in Geographe Bay for a quiet night before fishing off Cape Naturaliste.
“Simon caught a nice yellowtail king fish – we were trying to catch a nice size West Australian dhufish, but only caught under-sized samples which were returned to the water for another day.”
Arriving at Meelup via Bunker Bay, Prime Mover rendezvoused with Team Toohey from Waterholic, and spent the afternoon enjoying crystal-clear water.
“Simon was even swimming around trying to find a white pointer … and then Jason and Julie came over for dinner with the young Prime Mover support team, who had completed fantastic drawings.
“The Toohey crew brought over-cooked prawns and crabs (the ones from the live bait tank) … which tasted fantastic!”
HEADED FOR HOME – ALMOST
The next day marked a milestone point in Prime Mover’s journey – and Andrew slowed to round Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – on the most south-westerly point on mainland Australia and where the Indian and Southern oceans meet.
“It was a very mixed sea and we had a decision to make: push on with increasing wind and swell and risk arriving in the dark at an unfamiliar anchorage … or head into Augusta?
“We decided to head into Augusta with a new $36 million dollar marina and do a bit of sightseeing,” Andrew wrote.
“We taxied into town and had lunch at the pub with a spectacular view over the river and ocean. We then headed out to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in a taxi with Simon being friendly and talking to the driver, in a taxi that had been to the moon and was on its return journey (very tired) with us nearly going off the road multiple times – I begged Simon on the return journey not to speak to the driver!”
NB: Cape Leeuwin was named by Matthew Flinders – the first person to circumnavigate Australia – on 7 December 1801 at the commencement of his journey.
Back safely aboard Prime Mover, Andrew and his crew then had drinks with Luke and Janet from Flinders Island (Bass Strait) and Rob from Rosebud.
“They are both travelling on 24ft yachts and have been travelling for two years – we worked out that we had seen each other in the Bonaparte Gulf heading for The Kimberley’s (last year).
SHELTER AMID THE ROCKS AND REEF
The next day was a 145nm dash from the Augusta Marina to Shelter Island, maintaining 15-18 knots most of the way.
“Many rocks along the shore were spotted with water breaking over them in the SW swell, but Shelter Island turned out to be a beautiful spot to anchor for the night, and a reprieve from the boat shaking all day. It is an island located just off the shore with one end almost closed off with rocks and reef and a narrow entrance at the NW end.
“With the cray pot set for the night and Simon fishing off the back we were already planning tomorrow night’s dinner.”
The next log entry was recorded by Cheryl Kelly:
“Thank you Captain Luxton for another fantastic anchorage at Shelter Island. Andrew and Simon headed off bright and early to collect the cray pots they’d set the night before with hopes for ‘not 1 but 3’ crayfish – unfortunately the pot was empty (something to do with octopus-eating crayfish on a full moon).
“Chef Simon, along with his apprentice Andrew, cooked bacon and eggs which was followed by a walk up and around the sandy cliffs where we took more photos of Prime Mover. There were plenty of 4WDs driving along the beach (Port Hughes) looking for a spot to settle in for a day of surfing and spear fishing, it was certainly turning into a very busy spot and somehow I don’t think the locals have heard about all the recent shark attacks.”
Passing ‘stunningly rugged’ cliffs, Cheryl added: “You really feel insignificant when you see the power behind the waves when they hit the cliff-face.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Arriving in Whalers Bay around lunchtime, Prime Mover was met at the Albany Marina by ‘a friendly local by the name of Mark … and a zillion seagulls’.
“Mark not only owns charter vessels, he is the unofficial keeper of the Albany Marina, and full of handy do’s and don’ts and advice on how to stop the plethora of seagulls from taking up residence on Prime Mover – local knowledge is a wonderful thing,” said Cheryl.
“We spent the afternoon looking for a chandlery that sells ribbon to string around Prime Mover which will hopefully keep the seagulls away. Albany, which is pronounced Elbany, is a gorgeous, clean town with some amazing old architecture, and with really friendly and helpful locals.”
TAKING TIME TO REMEMBER
The community spirit in and around Albany certainly struck Andrew and the Kellys during the next few days, with Simon and Cheryl inspecting a beautiful 50ft catamaran before deciding Simon needs more headroom, and the pelicans putting on a spectacular flying display.
However, it was a visit to the National Anzac Centre on top of the hill at Albany which left a lasting impression of respect.
In Andrew’s words: “This is a world class facility which makes all the locals very proud and was the starting point for troops departing in WW1 – 100 years ago.
“With an interactive display, you are given a name of a soldier that departed for WW1 and find out whether he lived or died. My soldier from New Zealand was Sergeant Garloch ‘Garry” Clunie – he was shot twice and caught malaria … and passed away in 1971.
“In 1914, 38 ships with 20,000 Australian, 10,000 New Zealand troops, 7800 horses and equipment amassed at Albany and departed in convoys for Egypt in the Middle East.
“For many troops, the shores of King George sound at Albany would be the last time they would ever see Australia.”
“We walked back into town for lunch, and then on to the boat for final clean-down and final servicing on the engines before heading to Melbourne on the next leg in April.
“We also picked up some bird tape from the local boat supplies – this makes a humming noise to keep the birds off Prime Mover.
“They have a serious bird problem at the marina … and I don’t want Prime Mover to be the new nesting platform.”
In closing, Andrew says the South Coast and Albany in particular is an amazing area, with a rugged coastline and few boats in the anchorages. He says geographically he is reminded ‘a little bit’ of Wilsons Promontory in Victoria.
“If I had my boat in Perth I would head south this time of the year for some great boating along the coast.”
Start Date: 26th December 2013
Leg 1 Melbourne – Hobart
Leg 2 Hobart – Melbourne
Leg 3 Melbourne – Cairns
Leg 4 Cairns – Darwin
Leg 5 Darwin to Western Kimberley’s – Darwin
Leg 6 Darwin – Exmouth
Leg 7 Exmouth – Perth
Leg 8 Perth – Albany
Total days on Prime Mover: 168 days
Total nautical miles travelled: 8177 nm