Paradise – The Wessel Islands, East Arnhem Land NT, Sept 2019

IMG_5570-Medium Entering the Wessel Islands via the Hole in the Wall

We have arrived at our destination, The Wessel Islands. This video blog contains snippets of our fortnight at the Wessel Islands, a chain of small islands extending 120 km northeast from the Napier Peninsula in northeastern Northern Territory, Australia, into the Arafura Sea. Named for a Dutch ship that explored the area in 1636, the islands form the western gate to the Gulf of Carpentaria at Cape Wessel, their northern extremity. The island group lies within the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve, and the islands have caves decorated with Aboriginal art. We thank the traditional owners and custodians for giving our group permission to visit their land. The Wessel's are one of the remotest areas of Australia, no internet, no phone, and the satellite connection barely worked.

We were excited to approach the Wessel Islands through the Gugari Rip (also known as the "Hole in the Wall"). This is a 60-metre gap between two islands where the water rushes through with the flow of the tide. Paradise reached a speed of 11.5 knots before exiting. We picked the right time to travel through as the water was slack, and the conditions were safe.

Our group loves to hike, so off we went to view the Rip from shore, traversing through the bush and rocks. It was a beautiful view from the rocks at Raragla Island, and there are definitely crocs here – see this pic (credit to Reeflection)!

There are countless bays along the west side of the Wessels, and we managed to stop at most of the bays on Marchinbar Island. We spent three days at Jensen Bay, where there was rock art, a lagoon, an old airstrip, and remnants of structures used by the defence. A big thanks to Greg for finding the rock art for us to enjoy. I'm not sure how he found them, there aren't any signs here, and there was a lot of vegetation around.

Luckily John and I skipped one of the hikes to the other side of the island, the group were gone for 6 hours and came back dehydrated, and some were exhausted. The view from Google Earth showed a clear path to the other side following ridges in the plateaus, but what it didn't show was the height of the rocks and trees that were in their way. They made it to the other side, but the heat of the day and not enough provision for the journey knocked them around.

We had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the company of the group. We spent our time fishing, looking for shells, looking for crabs and crayfish, learning how to weave ropes, sneaking in a swim (in the clear water of course), celebrating John's birthday (see separate video), following the explorers of the group and loads of sundowners.

On our last day at the Wessels, we walked the short distance to the eastern side of the island and the windiest side. John managed to hobble his way there, his hip is giving grief. It was terrible to see all the debris that has washed ashore. In fact, this is the case for many beaches along our voyage. The debris looks as though it comes from Asia, given the markings, and assisted by the wind and wave action to arrive on our pristine shores.

It was time to celebrate when we reached Cape Wessel, this was a significant achievement for the group and marked the point where we all turn around and head back home to the east coast of Australia. We have traveled a long way, approx. 2800 nautical miles and have 8-10 weeks of sailing to return home.

We have decided to leave our journey of the lap of Australia for another time and turn around and spend more time with the Wessel Vessels gang as we all head home to the east coast of Australia. It's more fun to be with great people and slow down and explore rather than to speed our way through the journey alone.

Check out our travels on www.sailingourparadise.com.au

#sailingourparadise #lapofaustralia #notarasadventure #wesselvessels #smelltheroses 

Paradise – John’s Birthday celebration at the Wess...

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

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