The Sir Joseph Banks Group
Between 34 29S to 34 43S and 136 10E to 136 28E.
20-25 nm E-ENE from Port Lincoln.
The Sir Joseph Banks group consists of about 20 islands, islets and rocks divided into two main parts. The northern part, with the exception of Dalby and Kirkby islets in the west, and Winceby Island in the north, all stand on a bank over which the depth is 9.1 metres or less.
The southern part of the group consists of the detached cluster of Sibsey and English Island to the west; 5nm E-SE of this, Stickney Island with its connected reef and islet; another 3nm E-NE of Stickney, the cluster of Duffield, Spilsby, Boucaut Islands and Seal Rock; and lastly Buffalo Reef, 6-7nm SE of Boucaut and the eastern-most outcropping of the Banks Group.
The islands are all low-lying, all with more or less limestone capping on granite platforms, the latter most often exposed along shorelines and in adjacent shallow or drying reefs.
Tide swings of up to 1.60 metres significantly affect navigability in the shallower areas and passages, especially in the northern part of the Group.
Maximum land heights above chart datum are 30 metres or less on all except the southern end of Reevesby (32m) and Spilsby (41m), and only on these islands is there any vegetation higher than low shrubland.
With the exception of Spilsby (which remains privately owned), the islands of the Banks group were incorporated into a proclaimed Conservation Park between 1967 and 1974. The islands are a major breeding area for Cape Barren geese, white-faced storm-petrels and for several other bird species.
a) Reevesby Lagoon
Often thought of as ëhome baseí for cruising in the Banks group, the lagoon denotes the semi-protected waters between Reevesby Island on the east, Lusby Island to the south-west, and Partney and Marum Islands to the west. By moving from one spot to another within or adjacent to the lagoon, shelter ranging from excellent to moderately good can be obtained from any direction.
Lusby Island is connected by shallow and drying reefs to Reevesby, while another partly-drying reef runs west and north from Lusby towards Partney. The safe passage into the lagoon between the northern end of this reef and Partney Island is not much more than 0.5 nm wide and can be difficult to see on a first visit. Shallow reefs also extend for a mile or more due west from Partney and others, to the north, effectively join Partney with Marum.
From the eastern point of Partney a sand spit extends some distance into the lagoon towards Reevesby, while a little further north a large sand spit extends westward from Reevesby to drying rocks about 0.4 nm offshore and approx one mile south from the north-western point of Reevesby. An unlit pole marks the central point of these drying rocks.
Holding in the lagoon should always be tested, as the bottom is generally limestone shale interspersed with more or less thick sandy patches. Depths are generally less than 6 metres
Shelter from S through E to NNE
Anchorage is off the central part of the sandy beach which stretches from the Reevesby to Lusby reef at the south to the first low rocky point some 0.5 nm at the north. There are a few fixed moorings, with minimum depths no more than 2m, fairly close to the beach.
Anchorage in the curve formed by the northern bank of the sand spit extending west from Reevesby.
Shelter from W through SW to S
North-northeast of Lusby Island
With care, satisfactory anchorage can be made in towards the sandy beach. A small open shed was still standing near this beach in 2005.
North of Partney Island's eastern spit
As close as draft permits, though finding good holding may take a little time.
Shelter from N to NW
South of Partney Island's eastern spit
Anchor according to protection required.
b) Morton Bay
Shelter from SW through S to SSE
Morton is Reevesby's northern bay, facing the Douglas Channel between Reevesby and Winceby Island. This is the best anchorage of the Group in south-southwesterly weather. Bottom is generally heavy weed interspersed with patches of sand up to the green line, which almost everywhere is less than 1.5m at low tide.
c) Reevesby east coast
Shelter from N through W to SW
The eastern coast of Reevesby divides into three bays with sandy beaches ending with rocky headlands. The large northern bay is McCoy Bay, the small central one, Smoker, while Haystack Bay is the almost semi-circular bay to the south.
Anchorage in sand can be had in any of these bays. They are most useful when winds are north to north-westerly ahead of a westerly to southerly change. McCoy is better for more northerly winds while Haystack is perhaps better for south-westerly ones.
Note: McCoy Passage, a narrow (about 0.25 nm wide) channel between the southern rocky coast of Reevesby and the large shoal sandbank extending north-northwest from Blyth Island, is sufficiently deep to allow most vessels cautiously to pass east-west around the southern end of Reevesby. Some local sources reckon the Passage has least depth of 5 or more metres in its centre, but since it is not marked it is rather difficult to find this centre.
Sailing directions ñ south-western approach
When approaching Reevesby from Pt. Lincoln, make a course between the distinctively curved-top cone of Kirkby Island and Dalby Island to its east toward a waypoint at 34 31.90 S/136 15.10 E from which an easterly course may safely be made into Reevesby lagoon
Sailing directions ñ south-eastern approach
Approaching from the south-east a clear passage can be made through the channel between Smith Rock to the west and the shallow bank extending from Hareby to the east by keeping the centre of Dalby Island in line with the summit of Kirkby Island. Once Smith Rock is abeam, course may be altered to round past the western reefs of Lusby Island some 2.5-3 nm to the NNW.
Black tiger snakes (notechis scutatis) are very numerous on Reevesby and are also certainly present on Partney, Blyth, Hareby, and Roxby. Though described as non-aggressive, the black tiger snake has highly toxic venom; more than usual caution, together with protective clothing and footwear (and prior review of relevant first-aid procedures) are recommended if exploring these islands. Black tiger snakes are also known occasionally to swim for considerable distances off-shore!
Reevesby also has a population of common death adder, concentrated in the samphire swamp near to the old farmhouse on the south of the island.
Langton Island and Smith Rock
Shelter from SW through S to SE
North of the sandy spit marking the eastern end of the island. The rocky spine of this spit extends underwater with gradually increasing depth for about 0.1 nm ENE from the shoreline.
Note: This spit is home to a colony of sea-lion which should not be disturbed by too close an approach.
Note: Smith Rock
Situated about half a mile NE from Langton Island, is awash at high water. Between Smith and Langton there is sufficient depth for cautious passage by vessels drawing less than 4 metres.
Hareby and Blyth Islands
Shelter from SW
North of either island, as close to the sandbanks as draft permits. Rocks extend from the east of both islands; and an above-water rock about 0.3nm NE of Blyth, with drying rocks between, are hazards for the unwary.
Shelter from S through SE to NE
A small, very pretty, cove with steep rocky sides. Anchor in sand patches with depth 5-7 metres, as close in as safe swinging margins permit. Scrambly landing is possible.
Shelter from NNW through W to SW
Anchor in depths of 3-4 metres over a weed bottom.
The nearby English Island is home to large numbers of Sea-lion, some of which also haul out on rocks on Sibsey; English Island also has innumerable cormorants and black-faced shag. The rich sea-life around these islands and in the deep channel between them attracts human fishers as well as other top predators. Swimming is not recommended.
One of the two navigation lights in the Banks Group is at the highest point on Sibsey Island
Shelter from E through N to NW
A deep V-shaped inlet bounded by the main body of the island to the west and north, and with a long extension ending in a drying reef connected to a rocky islet to the east (the extension is named Linklater Point in some sources) The shoreline is everywhere rocky and the bottom moderately steep-to; anchoring is in sand in depths of 10 metres or more.
Shelter from SW and S
A small cove, open to the NNE, with a sandy beach at its head; anchor in mixed sand and weed.
A sand spit extends about 0.2nm NNW from the NW corner of Spilsby, the largest and highest island in the Banks Group.
Shelter from SW and S
Anchor off the northern shore to the east of the sand spit, in weed on a sand bottom.
Shelter from SE and E
As close in toward the north-western beach on Spilsby as your draft allows, with the island and its northern spit to the east and Duffield Islet bearing a little south of west.
No passage should be attempted between Spilsby and Duffield Islet without local knowledge (and shallow draft!).
Between Spilsby and Boucaut Islet is all shoal and rocky ground, best avoided! The Australia Pilot, Vol 1 notes: ìThe sea sometimes breaks across between Boucaut Islet and Spilsby Islandî(sixth edition p.155). Another large area of foul and shoal ground extending at least one mile south-west from Spilsby should also definitely be avoided.