Australia, Blog

Fluttering by the Kepple and Percy Islands

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Great Keppel Island reminded us how much can be gained if you take the time to slow down, open your eyes a little wider and look a little deeper.

Sunrise on route to Great Keppel Island

Tired from an overnight sail, our bleary eyes scanned over the dry and seemingly barren landscape. Other than a nice beach, a first glance didn’t reveal much life ashore. The swell wrapped around into our intended anchorage, sending the only boat willing to ride it out, rolling from gunnel to gunnel. Seeking more a more comfortable night than the one we had just had at sea, we snuck around the corner to the western side of the island where life aboard was marginally better. Another safe, yet uncomfortable anchorage, providing much motivation to get off the boat and head ashore.

With our feet firmly planted in the sand, we watched as Florence rolled and pitched in the swell. Despite knowing she was safe we couldn’t help but feel bad for her being tossed around out there whilst we watched from the stable beach.

It would be easy to rush through here. A whirlwind hike around the island, at a pace fast enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Our first day was spent doing exactly that, seeing only our feet and the occasional glimpse of an empty beach as we sped from one viewpoint to the next. If it wasn’t for a friendly local telling us that the grass was in fact greener here than on the next island, we might have missed the beauty of Great Keppel.


Armed with a good slathering of bug spray, we set off the next day for a longer hike out to Wreck Beach and the light house. Despite the early start, the tropical sun soon left us as parched as the earth. The crunch of the crisp, dry leaves under our feet, the only sound cutting through the eerie silence.

Once our senses tuned into the sounds, smells, and sights of the dry bush land, strange mythical like creatures began to appear. Evil looking snake-like lizards slithered out of the leaves. Feral goats peered down at us from their hillside perch. Echidnas scurried to hide from our camera and intrigued faces. Our feet narrowly missed a praying mantis, now frozen in place. Sea Eagles soared above us, sighting their prey. Thousands of butterflies, more than we have ever seen, suddenly surrounded us, creating a surreal fairy tale atmosphere. So much life hiding in such a seemingly barren landscape.

Time runs away with us and we loose hours, stood, staring, entranced by the nature of this strange and mythical land. Slowing down and taking time to watch the butterflies flutter by.

Back in the anchorage, yet still avoiding the rolling aboard, the sunset from the beach gave us more time to appreciate our surroundings.

Sorry to leave the creatures of Great Keppel behind, but happy to say goodbye to the anchorage, we upped anchor at 4 am for the 46 mile sail to Pearl Bay.

With the spinnaker up since daybreak, it was both fast and beautiful sailing.

Sunset at Pearl Bay. This area is a military training ground and access ashore beyond the high tide line is forbidden.

This beautiful bay, picturesque and serene upon arrival, turned into a rolly hell during the night as a northerly swell worked it’s way into the bay.

Sunrise upon leaving Pearl Bay


Another dawn departure and stunning spinnaker filled sailing day had us arriving at Middle Percy Island just before sunset. This kind of sailing doesn’t happen often, especially not two days in a row. At times like this, we can’t imagine travelling any other way.


A passing fishing boat handed us a large Jew fish that would have apparently taken them over their limit. With weeks since we had seen a shop it was gratefully received by both us and our sailing friends.

Middle Percy Island has a long history of visiting yachts. It’s tradition for each yacht to create a memento detailing their names and home port to be displayed within the A-frame shack.

Finding an available spot to hang our creation in the packed rafters took longer than creating it in the first place. Having found plaques of cruising friends who had passed through before us, it was good to know mini Florence would be in good company.


Time away, travelling, has shed years from us. Not in our looks, but in our childlike wonder at the world we have been born into. Like 5 year olds we watch bugs/fish/birds in awe. The self-conscious, restraints of adulthood have given way to a childlike marvel at the magic that surrounds us. No longer just a method of getting from A-B and gaining some exercise, walking has for us become an exciting voyage of discovery.


2 thoughts on “Fluttering by the Kepple and Percy Islands”

  1. So happy for you to have found the real beauty of Australia – it’s nature and wildlife! And so glad that you have taken the time to savour this beautiful part of the world, the Coral Coast. So many world cruisers have dashed through these waters, focused on what lay ahead rather than slowing down and experiencing what Mother Nature has blessed this coastline with. Well done you! I hope you‘ll return again one day.

    Liked by 1 person

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