Cruising Australia

Australia possesses such beautiful and varied cruising grounds. From the wind-swept coasts of Victoria and Tasmania to the picturesque harbours of New South Wales, the tropical islands and Great Barrier Reef of Queensland to the huge shallow bays of the Northern Territory, Australia has it all. We invite you to join us on the Go West - Down Under Rally and explore this incredible cruising destination. 

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People who have crossed the Pacific often say that the best was saved until the last. Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu & New Caledonia are destinations in themselves and deserve much more than a fleeting visit as you make your way west. November to April is cyclone season in the tropics and most sailors choose to head to either New Zealand or Australia for this period of time. 

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If you are cruising through Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu & New Caledonia - you might wish to join our Pacific Rally. This rally includes everything you need to cruise the South West Pacific with information on all these incredible destinations. We provide all the paperwork and details of the entry formalities, connect you with all the others cruising in the same direction and you also get all the Go West Rally inclusions as well. 

Plan to spend at least a month in Fiji and stay until late September. The legendary Musket Cove Regatta Week takes place usually from about the 15th - 20th September. Regatta week is a fun filled week of sailing and social events and is on the bucket list of many a cruiser.

After Regatta Week sail east to New Caledonia via Vanuatu and spend a couple of days exploring the Island of Tanna. This will allow you to get a taste of Vanuatu and the experience the Mount Yasur Volcano. 

Then it is on to New Caledonia, you clear in at Noumea and there is so much to enjoy including the stunning Ile des Pins and the Loyalty Islands. 

Mid-October it is time to start thinking of getting out of the tropics. From here you can sail South to New Zealand - check out our Sail South Support package or continue on with us to Go West on the Down Under Rally. 



If you include all the islands, Australia’s coastline stretches over 30,000nm. By far the most popular area for cruising yachts is the area of the east coast from Sydney in the south to Cairns in the north, which is without doubt one of the world's best cruising grounds.

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From a cruiser’s perspective, apart from the fact that it is warm, the best part about cruising the east coast of Australia is that you can say goodbye to overnight passages for a while! The East Coast between Sydney and Cairns provides the opportunity to sail by day and stopover each night, at various marinas, yacht clubs and sheltered secure anchorages. Whilst cruising in these locations, you are almost guaranteed to meet some local cruisers who will be only too happy to share their experiences and pass on tips or local knowledge. In fact, as very few Australians sail beyond the waters of Australia, they are likely to be in awe of the fact that you have sailed halfway around the world and will want to hear your stories of the places you have been and the adventures you had along the way. Most of all, be prepared to be surprised by how much there is to see and do “down under,” so much so that many of our rally participants decide to stay for an extra season, which is no problem as visiting yachts can remain in Australia for up to 3 years without having to be imported. I am sure you have probably heard people saying how wonderful the cruising grounds of the Great Barrier Reef are? Well, they are right, and spending a few months (or even years) cruising the islands and sheltered waters of the Great Barrier Reef and coastal Queensland is, or at least should be on almost everyone’s “bucket list.”

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Queensland has got to be one of the best places in the world to cruise. Highlights include:

  • Spectacular scenery that is still quite untrammelled.
  • Queensland is bigger than California yet there are only about 5 million residents, most around Brisbane. Huge segments of the coastline are roadless. 
  • English-speaking.
  • Any imaginable boat repair can be handled and 110v items are easily available via airfreight.
  • Weather is mostly benign and easily forecast.
  • You can spend as much or as little time in marinas as you like.
  • Nearly all of the Queensland coast can be day sailed from harbour to harbour.
  • Anchorages tend to be good holding sand or mud.
  • The Great Barrier Reef!



Bundaberg in Queensland is a great place to clear in to Australia. You are much less likely to encounter weather as severe as what can be expected when sailing in considerably higher latitudes. In our experience and that of majority who have made the passage from New Caledonia or Vanuatu to Australia, is it is typically a reach or a run especially if a port in South East Queensland is chosen such as the Port of Bundaberg. Bundaberg has long been a favorite with westbound yachts as it is the closest port of entry into Australia from New Caledonia and the passage is typically quite benign.

There are other points of entry along the coastline, but watch out for the "Southerly Buster' as one approach’s the New South Wales coast which is a weather event you definitely want to avoid. the-big-bust-southerly-busters-explained These weather events are hard to predict and are to be avoided, as they are capable of producing gale-force winds and steep rough seas. By setting a course for a more northern port they can be avoided.



Below are the typical average temperatures in southeast Queensland and Central - Northern New South Wales:

SE Queensland (Bundaberg to Gold Coast)

  • Air temperature average is around 26.°C (78.8°F)
  • Average water temperature is around 25°C (77.3°F)

Central to Northern New South Wales (Sydney to Tweed Heads)

  • Air temperature average is around 24°C (75.2°F)
  • Average water temperature is around 23°C (73.4°F)



The Down Under Rally works closely with the Australian Border Force (aka customs) and the Department of Agriculture and Water Recourses (aka quarantine). We provide our rally participants with up-to-date and comprehensive information that is written in plain English to ensure you know what to expect and how to prepare for your arrival and thus avoid any bad experiences. 

The majority of marinas and shipyards in Australia require all vessels to provide proof of public liability insurance. You may be refused entry to marinas and boatyards if you have insufficient liability insurance. In addition, most will require salvage and wreck removal. Our rally content includes all the details you need to know regarding the insurance regulations and advice on how to top up your policy if required. 



Marine related trades and service professionals are abundant in Australia, ensuring a healthy competition exists within the industry. This abundance of supply also helps to ensure that in most instances users of these services do not find themselves in the position of having to wait for extended periods of time to have repairs & maintenance carried out. There are many choices when it comes to finding marinas and shipyards, all of which are serviced by a variety of providers of marine-related products and services. The Down Under Rally understands the needs of visiting yachts and has formed strategic partnerships with key providers of marine-related trades and services; many of whom offer discounted services to our rally participants. Visit the Partners page of our website to see some of the products & services and offers from our rally partners.



In early November Join us for the Down Under Rally Welcome Event in Bundaberg. The purpose of Welcome Week is to provide those who join the Go West Rally with a fun and informative program of events. In addition to a couple of parties and several fun and entertaining social events that take place the Down Under Rally also provides free information on the following subjects:

  • Aussie 101 Presentation: Surviving & Thriving Down Under
  • VHF Channels & Weather Down Under Presentation
  • East Coast Cruising Presentation: Bundaberg to Gold Coast
  • East Coast Cruising Presentation: Gold Coast to Sydney
  • East Coast Cruising Presentation: Bundaberg to Cairns and beyond
  • East Coast Cruising Presentation: Sydney to Tasmania
  • Land Cruising Down Under Presentation



For those looking to dry store their vessel and return home, Bundaberg is the perfect location and one of the most economical, especially if you are a Go West Rally participant, as participants are entitled to special offers and discounts.

If cruising is on your agenda, then heading south to Sydney will provide you with some opportunities to tick a few more of those bucket list items such as watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and of course the world famous Sydney Harbour New Years Eve Fireworks and the spectacular Australia Day events and fireworks.




  1. Take your time and sail the north along the NSW coast visiting the many anchorages along the to SE Queensland.
  2. Leave the boat in one of the many marinas in NSW, the Gold Coast or Brisbane, make that visa run to New Zealand and spend a couple of weeks touring the north and south islands.
  3. If you are in no hurry you could continue sailing south to Tasmania and experience a cruising ground to rival the most scenic the work has to offer.



You have a number of options on where to go next:

  1. Join us again on our Go East - Pacific Rally and set sail from the Gold Coast to New Caledonia and on to Vanuatu. 
  2. Cross the Tasman and enjoy exploring the incredible cruising that New Zealand has to offer, then join the Pacific Rally and head up to Tonga or Fiji. 
  3. Sail north and enjoy tropical North Queensland. You can cruise the Queensland Coast and exploring the hundred’s of island and atolls. The Great Barrier Reef one of the seven wonders of the natural world and the 74 Islands of the Whitsunday Group before returning south for the following cyclone season.
  4. Or continue north to explore Indonesia




The Down Under ‘Go West’ Rally is a destination rally and open to all vessels departing from ports in the SW Pacific with Australia being their destination.

Participants are free to depart for Australia from New Caledonia, Vanuatu or any other port in the SW Pacific.

The Down Under Rally is all about choice!

  • You choose how much you are involved in the rally, do everything, do some of it, do none of it, sail in company or sail alone it is up to you.
  • You choose from where you depart.
  • You choose your port of entry.



Option 1 - The Go West to Bundaberg

This rally is for vessels that choose Bundaberg as their Australian Port of entry. You will be also be invited to attend parties with live music, indigenous Australian dance show, Australian east coast cruising seminars and many other events during the rally Welcome Week in Bundaberg. Plus you will receive discounts and deals on marina fees, antifouling, haul outs, dry storage and much more from our rally partner businesses that will save you $$$$$$


Option 2 - The Go West ‘All Ports Rally’

This rally is for vessels that choose any of the ports below as their Australian port of entry: Mackay, Brisbane, Southport, Coffs Harbour & Newcastle. Those who do not want to arrive in Bundaberg can join the “All Ports Rally” as still get the benefit of all the support and information we provide in regard to how prepare for your arrival in Australia to ensure your arrival is hassle free. In addition you will receive discounts and deals on marina fees, antifouling, haul outs, dry storage and much more from our rally partner businesses that will save you $$$$$$.


Local Knowledge. We know what you need to know and if we don’t, we know how to find out! We also work closely with rally participants & the Australian Border Control & Biosecurity to ensure that that all involved are fully aware of what is required before you arrive and what to expect upon arrival.


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