Unfriendly to Boaters in Australia

Australian businesses near the coastal waters could be more friendly towards visiting yachts. And boaters in general. We have traveled half way around the world, visited 20 countries, and have run into more trouble in Australia trying to find a place to come ashore to do business and sightsee than in any other country! After visiting 2 cities and several coastal towns, we have found very few places on the coast willing to provide parking for visiting yacht tenders. In fact, we have wasted more time figuring out dinghy parking than where to anchor or where to do business. They just don’t believe in dinghy docks in this country.

In some places, they have public docks, but they have big signs saying you can’t park there for more than 30 minutes, or that they are only for pick-up and drop-off. Meanwhile, if you ask around they say things like: “Well, you have to either park on the beach, or anchor off the park/jetty/wharf.” (Of course, you have to swim ashore if you are anchoring, so that’s not very convenient. I actually did this on two occasions though because of no other options.) We also have been told that the only place you can park is on a ferry dock, or public wharf, which are not a very safe place (physically or for security reasons) for your dinghy when you’re gone ashore for a while running errands or sightseeing. By the way, our dinghy is like our car. It’s our primary way of getting ashore. We want a nice safe place to park it when we go ashore.

In our 20,000 miles of travel, we have found that most towns, cities, businesses (including especially marinas) find it very beneficial to provide dinghy parking to visiting yachts. After all, visiting boat owners are coming ashore in most cases because they need to go shopping, or to hire someone to fix something, or to go sightseeing. We’re spending a lot of money in the countries we visit. Not only that, but many boats will often park at a marina and then decide they like the services there and go ahead and bring their big boat in to do things like have shore power, get water, buy fuel, and use the laundry services. And, almost every dinghy owner will end up needing fuel (there are a few rowers out there). If a marina is unfriendly to a cruiser, the cruiser will just take their tank ashore and go to a gas station.

There are a lot of boaters in Australia. I thought perhaps the local boaters have somehow abused the system (Do Australian boaters trash docks and facilities or something?) But, I spoke to some local Australian cruisers, and apparently this is all common practice in the country. The marina owners expect boaters to come to their marinas and dock if they want to come ashore. Not only do they make it hard to use your dinghy to come ashore, but they also make it very difficult if you want to live on your boat. Most marinas do not allow live-aboards, and those that do limit the time you can do it. Same thing on moorings as well.

Treating foreign travelers this way is really not very friendly. But, I guess it does result in more business for the marinas. A lot of visiting yachts park their yachts in marinas while they travel Australia on land. I know for a fact, that some would prefer to leave their boat on a less expensive mooring, but those often don’t exist or are already fully booked by local boaters. We made the rare decision apparently to cruise the coast. I think the tourism office needs to encourage better boat manners on the local coastal real-estate owners. And, the marine industry needs to take a hard look at how other countries treat live-aboard cruising boaters and re-evaluate their practices.

We’re still trying to find a public place to drop off our recycle-able materials that we have been saving since we left Brisbane. We found places, but they all had signs saying it was illegal for non-residents (of the marina or housing complex) to drop off your rubish/recycles. Fortunately, we can leave rubbish in public park receptacles.

We want to be responsible boat visitors and obey the local rules (just like we’ve done in the last 20 countries). But, they sure make it hard here in Australia!

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1 Response to Unfriendly to Boaters in Australia

  1. Kathi Cuffel says:

    Try Port Stephens north of Sydney. It couldn’t be easier, friendlier or more convenient. There are even a few free moorings at Nelson Bay near an easy & safe public jetty, close to the shops.

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