The Voice of the Great Barrier Reef!




  above: Andy, about 1964, aboard the SV "Islander".
(photo by C. Hodgekinson)

 By Bob Norson

May 3rd, 2003 marks the day of the sad passing of Andrew Martin.

Sad, for multiple reasons. Sad, because of all the people who have met, enjoyed and will miss the experience of Andy in the environment of his island paradise. The man and his island had become one entity, and a powerful memory. Sad, for the apparent failure of the legacy and the confusion and despair of the man's later life.

The story is too complex for this issue. Next edition will have the Hickling's story. Probably the most important associate on the island, living and working there for 12 years with, and sometimes in spite of Andy.

All interested parties are urged to contact us (see page 2 for details), as we will be trying to come to terms with the whole story.

 A sign erected by Andy many years ago...... what once was.

 The Other White Bird visits Middle Percy Island
 Story by: Beth Smyth
Photos: Ian Freeman &
Beth Smyth


The Other "White Bird" entered the boat harbour in Middle Percy Island at high tide and dried out on a sand bank just inside the entrance in early July, this year.

"White Bird" is an 11 metre trimaran designed and built by Chris Mashdour and launched in 1981 in Sydney. She had a very successful racing career during the time she was owned by Chris, verified by the many trophy stickers in her cabin. Beth & Ian, her current owners, entered her in the 1998 Brisbane to Gladstone race, and although not winning a place, were not disgraced. On the Friday evening of the race, 23 other boats were forced to withdraw because of a nasty squall.

However, back to the Middle Percy boat harbour! We left Bamborough Island to go to Curlew Island, but the wind was on the nose and the anchorage in Curlew would have been most
uncomfortable in a northerly. We turned east, and finally anchored in Dolphin Bay in Middle Percy. We met Stewart on "Splish Toc" and with his advice decided to attempt the entrance into the harbour on the first convenient high tide after the winds had eased.


  Ian needed to change oils in the 9.9 hp Yamaha (our motor), and drying out was essential. "Splish Toc" followed us in and anchored in a hole in the channel and did not dry out. We had our anchor out front and ropes connecting us to mangrove trees at the stern, and as you can see by the photo, we were high and dry in lovely sand. We were joined by a family from St. Lawrence in their two tinnies. It was the school holidays. Also in the harbour were two keelers tied to poles, one on the jetty, and the historic "Islander" which was built by the White family who had the Island prior to Andrew Martin. It's sad to see it decaying because it still seems basically sound.

When Matthew Flinders sailed into West Bay on his journey around Australia he found the boat harbour and rowed in looking for fresh water. The description in his log is the source for the sign now on a rock at West Bay. I wonder if the fruit bat colony was there then too! Other animals have been introduced to the island, the most destructive of which are the goats. Ian was astonished to find an emu standing on our mooring rope one low tide! Had the skipper made an unfortunate navigational error? Apparently, there were two emus brought to the place, both males, and they now roam around freely, most likely looking for an elusive female. This fellow was quite aggressive, fluffing out his neck feathers and booming threateningly at male humans.


  We finally had to leave this fascinating place to go to Mackay. We'd eaten oysters, barbecued some fish, topped up on water, investigated West Bay, wandered up to the old homestead, and experienced some incredible tide variations.

As a consequence, we can endorse Bob's advice (see TCP #2, "Favorite Hangouts") to visit Middle Percy now, while it still stands. It seems to me that time and neglect are reeking havoc.

 Ian and Beth of SV WhiteBird Trimaran