Tuesday, July 16, 2013

McGowan Island Beach Campground

Monday - 10/06/2013

The wind the weatherman promised did not arrive so we had to motor sail from Honeymoon Bay to McGowan's, we only had to travel 12NMS and the main reason we were going there was for fuel. As we left some of the campers going out fishing came by to wave farewell. We left about halfway through high tide to catch the ingoing tide to McGowan's. As soon as we cleared the headland you could see McGowan's as they have a white fuel tanker (prime mover and trailer) close to the waterfront and it stands out in the sunlight. There was also a motorboat anchored off the shore as we headed down.

We had contacted McGowan's by phone in Darwin to check with the about getting fuel which is a wise thing to do to make sure they have stocks for the boats that require fuel. Sometimes they get a number of motor boats in that require thousands of litres of fuel and they have the semi trailer that holds around 40,000 litres and that has to be filled back in Wyndham. To contact McGowan's Ph. 08 91614748, website

They have diesel the price varies and was $2.70 per litre when we filled, I have found out since that they do sell ULP fuel to amounts that you require, the guide books we have read state that they will supply 200 litre drums. Well the fuel is in 200 litre drums but they will siphon off the amount you require, however, the first question they will ask when you ask for ULP is if your containers have litre markings as that is how they measure the fuel given, so no markings maybe no ULP. I would say it is around the same price as the mission around the $3.00 per litre.

As you approach McGowan's call them on ch16 VHF and let them know you are coming if they are near the radio they will answer you. There is one thing to remember that these places are very isolated and the people that own these places  are original Aboriginal landowners although they may have people working for them basically for their keep. Robert who served us fuel has been working there for nine years and they do not make very much money. Therefore the prices may seem high but it is what it costs them to get things there.

McGowan Island is a small island off the campground which is part of the mainland, it was named after Father McGowan many years ago who loved to fish off the island.

Anchorage 14⁰ 08.703'S - 126⁰ 38.736'E

It is possible to go right into the beach at some high tides and fuel straight from the tanker, talk to Alex or Robert about it. There are some rocks marked with a yellow buoy and there are markers (buoys) that lead to the beach, the boys will tell you to keep near to the north side of these if going in on high tide.
(Chart showing our anchorage, there are more rocks to the north so when coming into the anchorage sail down level to the beach before turning the marked rock is on the southern side of the buoy)
(McGowan's Campground from our anchorage, the white fuel tanker stands out for miles)
We fuelled up via 20 litre containers I had two trips and Robert was very obliging and trusted us to come back and fix the bill when we finished. Payment can be cash or card, if using credit account there is a 2% charge if using savings account no surcharge.
McGowan's has a good water supply which benefits the campground as they water lawns which makes it a nice area for the campers, the water has a light earthy taste but not bad. We asked if we could get water and they said help yourself, there is a tap next to the fuel tanker. We took great advantage of this and did washing and topped up tanks and containers before leaving.
(One of the campsites at McGowan's)
Just after we arrived John and Barbara came by on their way back to their boat and asked if we had seen a yacht name 'Tryphena', we said we had seen it entering King George River as we were leaving some days ago, they said they were waiting for them to arrive. They invited us over for sundowners on their boat 'Murrundi' which is a 52' motor launch. A short while later we heard 'Tryphina' calling McGowan's on the radio. They came over on the way in and said hello and they were going to sundowners there so we would catch up then.
We had a good sundowners with the other two crews and made plans to sail with them the next day, Peter and Shannon on 'Tryphena' said that the area around Middle Rock can be a big problem as it is nowhere near  where it indicates on the chart so we said we would follow their lead, arrangements were made to leave at 0530 hours the next morning as we would be motor sailing as little wind tomorrow. John and Barbara were to leave later as their motor boat goes a little faster than us.
We had a good night and then we headed for bed.

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