Bundaberg Port Marina sure makes it easy on cruisers. They offer so many amenities: a small convenience store, a large chandlery, a fresh seafood shop, a gourmet restaurant, great laundry facilities, a nice cruising club and best of all a free shuttle service into the city of Bundaberg. Just a short walk up the road is the small township of Burnett Heads. It was very easy to pass the time here without realizing how much time we'd really spent or had intended to spend.
Tuesday we took the shuttle into Bundaberg with several other cruisers and then set off to the shopping center with our new friends, Isabelle and Brian on s/v Wasabi. First stop (as always) was to the phone and Internet facilities to get sim cards and broadband "sticks". For a First World country, Australia is way behind the USA's information and technological highway. There is really only one service provider that offers reliable service and full coverage for phones and internet, and that is Telstra. There are others including Vodafone, however, they only offer coverage in major populated areas. What's more is that the services are outrageously expensive and archaic. For instance, our Aussie Vodafone does not allow us to make international calls or to text-message, unless we purchase an additional package, yet the phone service is available here in some areas but the internet is not. We had already purchased Vodafone when visiting Melbourne back in March. Well, we have to shelve that for now and go with Telstra, which offers what is called "NextG" service for which we had to purchase a new phone and modem. This is nice except that Telstra provides no international service; therefore, we purchased a third service that will let us text and phone outside of Australia (Oz). This is way too complicated to even try to explain and it infuriates us that many hundreds of dollars later, we still have to pay a per text fee and $.80/minute to talk within the country, PLUS a connection fee for every call and every text. God Bless America!!!!! Well, at least we have now got Frank's computer set up and we now each have a cell phone. Having finished that bit of business, which only took up 2 ½ hours of our morning, Frank and Brian went one way while Isabelle and I went another direction. We wanted to do a little personal shopping and get pedicures.
After Frank and Brian walked away they were approached by a reporter for the local newspaper and asked to be interviewed and photographed for a special weekend edition featuring yachts participating in the Port 2 Port Rally. I am proud to say my husband made the news! We saved the feature spread and sent a copy home to his mom, where she is surely and quite proudly sharing it with her friends at the Virginian.
A pizza-fest was provided that night at the cruising club, at 6 PM, where once again we all gathered, ate, visited and departed for our respective boats by 8 PM – party animals us.
Wednesday was chore day. I did laundry and straightened the boat while Frank did his bit, and then at 5 PM the cruising club provided the official Welcome reception and Aussie BBQ. We chowed down on steaks, fish, chicken and kangaroo sausage.
And so it went for a week – Thursday, the Bundaberg Regional Council hosted a large Aussie breakfast, followed by a safety briefing, and "curry night" for dinner.
Friday, the marina hosted another BBQ and a Cane Toad auction. We bid on Cane Toads to be raced later that night. We won the bid for a toad named "Miss Congeniality" She came in 3rd.
Saturday was the "treasures of the bilge sale" (Yachties garage sale), where we sold an anchor some hoses, books and movies. Afterward we were all transported to the Burnet Heads Lighthouse to attend the Music and Arts Festival. Later that night we piled into vans for a group dinner at the local hotel and pub, where one of the top local singers from the festival was performing. We ate, chatted, listened to great music and watched the Allblacks play Australia in the tube.
Sunday we were bussed to the fruit and veggie market, which was more like a giant flea market – most of the girls went while the men opted for golf. It was heavenly. Sunday night (Halloween night) was our formal rally dinner, hosted by the Port of Bundaberg and the Port Marina. They did it up right, serving 5-star meals, never-ending champagne and wine, live music and awards for various competitions. We were instructed to dress for dinner, which provided a fun and pleasant opportunity to see everyone dressed in their best rather than looking like crusty cruisers. On the awards front, Frank actually won the golf game, which would shock and amaze his friends back home. I was very proud of him!
Monday morning began with a group photo shoot. We were then piled into a bus for an all day tour. First stop was the Bundaberg ginger beer factory for tastings and shopping. We loaded up on a wide variety of sarsaparilla, ginger beer, lemon lime and bitters, and several other non-alcoholic drink flavors. Next stop was the Bundaberg Rum Factory where we were given a tour and a passport for 2 free drinks. Frank was pleased to have 4 free drinks (his and mine). He purchased the reserve and several bottles of the liqueur. Then it was off to Bunning's Hardware store – every man's wet dream! The men literally raced off the bus loading their trolleys like it was Christmas. This was followed by a trip to Bundaberg's newest and largest "bottle store" (wine and spirits), which probably held more wines than I think I have ever seen in my life. We left with a mere case of Aussie XXXX beer. In the old days I would have been in heaven! Our last stop on this whirlwind tour was the big grocery store where we all staggered back to the bus wondering how we would get all this stuff back to the boat. We could have sworn the tires on that bus were flat by the end of the day. What a great day that was.
The official events were finished but we all stuck around for a few more days to relax, unwind socialize at a more leisurely pace and also to wait out some storms that were headed our way.