The Bill was indeed passed by the Senate on 5 December and only required the Governor General to sign the royal assent in the coming days. The final crew visa was issued on 6 December, HEMISPHERE arrived in Cairns on 9 December and on the same day the MYBA contract was signed with Nutopia Productions, the company commissioned by National Geographic to produce the TV documentary One Strange Rock.
On the back of a hugely successful first series, the One Strange Rock team travelled far and wide in 2019 to shoot awe-inspiring footage telling nature's most remarkable stories.
The expedition would take six vessels and crew; a team of 66 people consisting of scientists, advisors from GBRMPA, film, light and sound crews, supporting personnel, the director, producer and the show’s host to the remote far north of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.
Despite the unstinting support of David Good, Superyacht Australia and AIMEX and Carrie Carter from Carter Marine agency, HEMISPHERE’s voyage through red tape in Australia wasn’t over. The trip was scheduled to start on 13 December from Cairns. However the Temporary Coastal Trading Licence requires a 48-hour grace period for receiving appeals, and that would not be reached until 16.00 on Monday 16 December and HEMISPHERE needed to deliver her guests 360nm to the north by the afternoon on 17 December to start the three-day documentary shoot.
We needed to find a way to start moving, which was impossible with guests onboard. The guests agreed to be flown north to Lizard Island on Sunday morning where they would stay until Monday afternoon. Under the watchful eye of Customs, HEMISPHERE departed Cairns guest-free and made best speed towards Lizard Island where she anchored at 01.30. Greg Magi and the Delaware North team who operate Lizard Island bent over backwards to assist and did a fantastic job looking after the guests.
On Monday 16 December at 16.30 an email arrived from Carter Marine advising that TCTL #0129TL890 had been granted! The guests, who were returning from a dive trip at Cod Hole, cheered upon hearing the news, and by 17.30 HEMISPHERE welcomed her guests on board again. With 200nm to go, a light following wind and a star-studded sky, HEMISPHERE raced through the night towards Raine Island.