Done Dunedin!

Done Dunedin!

23F49425-1ADA-4ECE-AB11-D09B47AC65F0We arrived early on a warm and sunny morning into Port Chalmers with a gentle breeze blowing and all the makings of a perfect summer’s day. The port may be an industrial centre but is set amidst gently rolling wooded hillsides, complete with a very English looking church. For me, this is typical of New Zealand; nothing big, nothing flashy but very pretty and architecture which nods at modernity whilst still managing to hark back to a mixture of Art Deco and colonial majesty.

We were greeted on the quayside by the words, “Welcome to Paradise”, and I wonder how many of us would think that about our home towns, let alone say it. But here we were given one greeting after another as we were directed to a local shuttle bus which would take us to nearby Dunedin.

 

Dunedin, although small, is classed as a city, in fact it is New Zealand’s oldest city. In 1848 Scottish migrants established a settlement here giving it the Celtic name for Edinburgh: Dunedin. We were slightly amused to see Cadbury World – a large factory near the centre of town – hailed as one of the attractions. We didn’t partake, but happily wandered round the centre where many shops proclaimed a welcome to Noordam guests and crew. We caught an organ recital in the city’s Cathedral, put on especially for our ship, and enjoyed sharing “half a meter of pizza” and an ice cold beer for lunch, before wandering down to the railway station which is famed for its classic Victorian architecture.

 

It was a gentle kind of a day which will gear us up for tomorrow’s adventure to Christchurch, a city I have long been keen to visit and have missed on a previous trip to this part of the world.

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

Regrettably, whenever someone mentioned going to Dunedin, the theme from the Onedin Line became my earworm! Misspent youth, obviously. Too much television.

We were told it was the Edinburgh of the Southern Hemisphere but I didn’t see that. For me, a pleasant, Anglo-Scottish flavour, certainly, but not the Scottish capital city. Although, they do share the name, I understand.

What did I question or learn?

As we rounded the southern tip of South Island, we were further South than the southern tip of South Africa and took me further south than I’d ever been. We’re now travelling North but are still well ‘down’ from the Equator.

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I also learned, from a former student, that ‘thongs’ in Australia/NZ can be worn in the street as they are what we call flip flops and, from a Facebook friend from round here, WD40 is called “start ya bastard!” apparently.

(The Scottish connection has just been emphasised by a pipe band playing ‘Flower of Scotland’ on the quayside, Ann tells me. Oh, dear, I missed it!)

The Shuttle Bus taking us to Dunedin from our berth in Port Chalmers was driven by a cross wearing Kiwi at some speed but he got us from A to B and back. On the bus was an unusual sign which emphasised the need for muscles in the event of an emergency!

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Talking of muscles,… the national sport in New Zealand is Rugby (Union) with the magnificent All Blacks both all-conquering (almost always) and iconic across the world. They take it seriously! The attitude reminds me of a Bill Shankley quote who said, paraphrasing, “Football isn’t life or death, it’s more serious than that.”

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As for the poster at our lunchtime hostelry called ‘Ratbags’… I don’t condone personal abuse and don’t, therefore, indicate that I agree with the sentiments. However, I thought their thoughts worth sharing.

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Finally, we’re off out on the deck tonight looking for albatrosses. Magnificent creatures and hope to spot some.

Ann’s Additions

Dunedin has been an interesting port of call for me since I first looked over the balcony this morning. So many massive stacks of logs being brought into the port on huge ‘double’ trucks, a process which lasted all day. The rather sad thing is that all this wood seemingly destined for the Far East, particularly China, to make pulp and paper.

 

The earlier settlers, however, took a very different view of wood and used for craftsmen to create plaques at the pew ends in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Dunedin. Each small plaque is different, dedicated to a former member of the congregation and quite beautiful.

What price progress?

From Sounds to Fiords

From Sounds to Fiords.

 

2CCA1700-391B-44B2-BF86-0973654AA358There is a geographical difference between a Sound and a Fiord and we experienced both, but, for the purpose of the blog, let’s just say that we sailed through narrow channels of water, overlooked by towering mountains and close enough to feel the spray of a cascading waterfall. This adventure began at 6 am as the hardy souls amongst us spilled out onto the foredeck and waited for the dawn’s light to reveal the entrance to Milford Sound.

We were forewarned that this was one of the wettest places on Earth, but rain would add to the drama, the waterfalls and the almost ethereal quality of the vistas. And so it was. Wreaths of cloud clung to the mountains and the Sounds were largely silent, apart from the cry of sea birds. Dramatic indeed. Full marks to the navigator for taking us so close to the waterfalls and swinging the ship around 360 degrees to ensure everyone was almost close enough to bathe in the spray.

From Milford Sound we sailed into Doubtful Sound. It was doubtful that the sun would shine but….there were signs. By the time we had eaten lunch, watched an excellent Maori cultural show and enjoyed a rendition of the Hakka, we were cruising into Dusky Sound under bright blue skies and warm sunshine.

 

So, the dramatic, rain spattered photos of this morning became the picture postcards of this afternoon!! At 4.30 we were back in open water and cruising towards our next stop, Port Chalmers, from where we can pick up a shuttle bus to Dunedin.

Big seas and heavy weather in the Tasman Sea

Big seas and heavy weather in the Tasman Sea.

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Our two days at sea (before our cruise into “The New Zealand Sounds” and Fiordland) sounded promising, but I had forgotten the opportunity to pitch and roll across the Tasman and, sure enough, it was a repeat performance of my previous experience. The Captain mentioned a bit of a wind getting up and I then knew he was a master of the understatement. The inelegant stagger you need to adopt to counter the rapidly fluctuating pitch of the floor certainly has its comedy moments. However, not so funny if your tummy doesn’t quite keep up the pace. We were all great at breakfast, we were still happy to go and have the lunch to which the Captain invited us (only because we have all sailed with Holland America before, don’t you know!), but by dinner poor Ann decided that being horizontal was the only way she was going to resist the threatened seasick lurgy. Carolyn and I felt obliged to fly the flag and persuaded ourselves that the Filet Mignon served with lobster ravioli was the way forward. Even the fabulous ‘rock’ violinist we saw later in the theatre had a slight stagger at times, which was definitely not part of his act. However, we stalwarts declined all alcoholic opportunities for the evening on the basis that, were seasickness to hit us, we were not going to blame it on the booze.

Day 2 arrived, having moved the clocks forward an hour on two consecutive nights to get us onto New Zealand time, revealing more of the same weather. Fortunately, Ann’s sea legs are back in place so pancakes for breakfast. Then came our “Immigration Inspection” to test our suitability for entry into New Zealand. We had carefully read the declarations but noticed a small area with which we were not quite compliant in terms of what was coming into the country with us. Back in Sydney, we had each bought a couple of wooden racing kangaroos (don’t even ask), but our declaration said we had to produce anything made of wood in case it was banned material. My comment to Ann this morning, “Don’t forget to get your kangaroos out”, produced much laughter all round. Definitely could be a euphemism for something unspeakable!! Kangaroos were displayed to nice Inspector, who signed to say that not only had he seen and approved Ann’s kangaroos but mine as well!! He gave us a wink and we are good to go.

What do you do on an afternoon when you walk past a swimming pool which is hell bent on emptying is contents in great waves which wash across your feet? Stop walking, retreat to your cabin and catch up on at least one of the two hours’ sleep missed. For me, I will watch a movie selected from the 1,000+ on offer.

The cabin stewards entertain us each evening with animals made from towels but my favourite so far has been Dumbo! Always fun to come back to your room and see what is sharing your bed!

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

Being on board with limited and expensive Wi-fi, I struggle with not being able to look up things that puzzle me. Similarly, my seemingly insatiable appetite for up-to-the-minute news has to be assuaged by printed morning news extracts from the UK, US etc. We do have BBC News on the TV but, somehow, don’t find enough time to watch it. We are aware that Brexit, Trump and the weather are still ‘hot’ items as, now, are the Korean Winter Olympics.

I’m aware that we haven’t said (or shown) much about our ship, MS Noordam. It’s far from the biggest or grandest cruise ship but it suits us. It is spacious and the staff are excellent. Truly excellent. Every member of staff says good morning etc. with what appears to be a genuine pleasure to see us… and, of course, keep them in employment. The restaurant staff are Filipino or Indonesian and join in with the Indonesian version of ‘Happy Birthday’ for appropriate diners. Being aware of the danger of grazing on the free all day buffet, we restrict ourselves, usually, to set menus in the restaurants. Great choices available; albeit we still end up with three courses. Yes, even for breakfast! Diet when we get back. I have learned a ‘magic’ card trick from a waitress which I shall share with Lexie when we see her next.

The entertainment is good but, frankly, not as good as on the P&O Cruise last time or even the last Holland America Cruise. The B.B. King’s Blues Club band don’t seem to be as tight or tuneful but, perhaps, we’re being over critical. It is ‘good’!

The shows are of variable quality and a card trick magician on stage of a theatre showing us a normal size playing card didn’t work. The highlight was, I guess, the ventriloquist with ‘Matilda’ … a West Indian female dummy. Sounds odd but it worked superbly and we’ll be going back to see him (and her!) again in a couple of days.
Last evening’s ‘rock’ violinist was very good as was the backing band not just because they had a left-handed drummer!

Talking of strange Sounds – subtle segue – our itinerary has been changed and we were expecting to visit the Milford Sound today. It’s now tomorrow … very early morning! Hmm!

 

 

Happy days in Hobart

Happy days in Hobart

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I know I have commented before on the blog about the friendliness of the Aussie folks but it is worth saying again that the people in Tasmania have, time and again, proved this to be a fact. Our time in Hobart, especially the day trip we took, was delightful.

We felt the need to see something of the Hobart area and selected a tour which covered a variety of activities. Our coach, along with a fabulous guide (a lady of a certain age) took us to Shene, a country estate restoration project where we found a couple whose lives were now dedicated to restoring an historic country estate. This dynamic duo, originally from Queensland, have brought their skills and enthusiasm to restoring the homestead and converting barns and outbuildings into function rooms and a distillery, now producing award winning gin and whisky. I had to smile as we saw the main house, still being lovingly restored, still with evidence of damp problems and still minus a proper kitchen…and then we visited the husband’s domain, the distillery, with its state of the art, gleaming machinery and no expense being spared. I hope they go on to achieve the even greater success their passion for the project deserves. I will watch out for an opportunity to buy Poltergeist Gin in the future – it has already won awards in London and San Francisco.

If anyone is put off visiting Australia by the thought of spiders, let me introduce you to one I found near the distillery.  Now that really is a big boy (or girl!).

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Our next stop was Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, another passionate project by a guy who is caring for indigenous animals as well as some who may be native to Australia but not Tasmania (koalas, wombats, etc). He has opened an animal hospital there and collects ‘casualties’ from across the state. Although many of the animals are nocturnal, most were happy to ‘appear’ so we saw the reclusive Tasmanian Devil at close quarters, a hungry and very cute wombat, a couple of dozing koalas and then happily fed the very docile kangaroos who loved having their chests tickled. Fabulous.

From there we went to a small historic town (Richmond) which comprises a single Main Street of shops and cafes. It was well worth the stop if only for the delights of an iced coffee, rich with home made ice cream. It is one of those towns with historic buildings, including a gaol, which just cry out to be looked at and admired.

The final visit was to a local wine producer who creates a whole variety of wines under the label ‘Puddleduck’. We sampled merrily but found only one which suited our palates. This might have been our lucky break as the cost of shipping a case back to England was well over £200 and bringing wine on board ship incurs a charge of $18 US per bottle. The initial cost of a bottle was more than double the cost of a good supermarket offering at home, so we left without buying any. Sad in a way as this was a family concern – we met two of them – and, again, they had the same passion for their work we had experienced at the previous stops.

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to get off the ship again and take an evening stroll around Hobart Harbour. It’s the only place on our voyage where we have had a couple of days in port. As we leave here, our next ports of call will be in New Zealand, so new experiences and much more to enjoy.

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

It takes something special to make me feel ‘Wow!’ Having a kangaroo eat out of my hand and almost have a ‘conversation’ with me was one of those moments. The experience was symbiotic, it seemed. The kangaroo got fed and had its chest scratched – their small arms can’t reach – and I got so close to an animal which is iconic.

Well worth doing and the Animal Sanctuary does a great job. The day was another ‘scorcher’ as far as temperature was concermed and I smiled at the loos which instead of external doors, had chain curtains – albeit decorated with the ubiquitous stylised male and female figures.

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The other experiences of the day were, also, worth doing but, frankly, not as special for me.

Hobart is an interesting place and our guide was knowledgable and passionate about her town and state. In the recent history, they have had several natural problems but a significant manmade one was when a ship collided with the main bridge linking the two parts of the town. Attempting to go through the wrong span of the bridge, the ship collided and brought down the bridge. Cars plummeted into the river and multiple deaths occurred. The bridge, a five-lane highway, was out of action for a couple of years whilst engineers (and insurers) grappled with a ‘solution’. The destroyed pillar has not been replaced and the sunken wreck of the ship remains in the water where it sank. The bridge is, of course, fully repaired but now closed to all traffic when a ship is due to pass underneath as we observed last evening.

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Today began with rain but we ventured out after an early lunch as the weather cleared and meandered round the harbour and some of the town. Interesting statues illustrate the early journeys to the ‘bottom of the world’ and the Australian Antarctic Division is based here.

Two iced coffees (with cream!) made the free Wi-fi taste even sweeter to Ann and Kath.

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A final note as we eat ‘heartily’ as well as healthily… from the Bakery in Richmond…

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From lazy day to prison day!

From lazy day to prison day!

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Sea days are enjoyed in a variety of ways; for some there is a host of activities to be sampled (see what Ann did!), whilst others enjoy the gentle breezes on deck reading books they have been promising for months to pick up. For Carolyn and I came the temptation of Super Bowl being shown on the cinema screen in the theatre. I have to say that Carolyn is more of a devotee than I, but frequent visits to the USA have spiked my interest and I did get additional commentary and explanation of the rules from my neighbour! The audience were hugely in favour of the ultimate winners (The Eagles), whereas I happily cheered each touchdown no matter which side scored!

But today was our stop in Port Arthur and we went to prison. Actually, we were looking around the former penal colony which, in the mid 1800s, housed nearly 2000 prisoners of the more serious variety (2+ offences) deported from the UK. When I first arrived at this beautiful spot I did think, well, if you have to be a prisoner what better place, but hard labour was hard and not all survived. A guide from the World Heritage Centre, was keen to point out that they built a hospital, employed doctors and a surgeon and taught skills and crafts so the prisoners could eventually leave with a trade. I was amazed to learn they had a library the prisoners could use with 13,000 books. The Australians wanted to provide an education so the men could leave better off than when they arrived.

Today, the prison is largely a ruin (in a glorious spot overlooking a truly beautiful bay). Some of the buildings (the Commandant’s house and the junior doctor’s house) have been maintained just as they were and are open for the visitors. The asylum (a later addition to the prison) has cells which can be viewed, again, as they were. Prisoners were often sent here for punishment and they were in solitary and silent confinement, often for a year.

The weather is just perfect today and I sit here in quiet contemplation of our Tasmanian experiences to date….quite wonderful. The tenders are busily ferrying passengers back to the ship across the sparkling water. In less than an hour we shall be on our way to Hobart, where we have a couple of days in port before heading to New Zealand.

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Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

Little things intrigue me. I like to know why. So, when I spotted an upside down keyhole in a restored house in Port Arthur, I asked why? Foolishly, I asked out loud of Kath whose flippant (I hope!) response was, “Because we’re Down Under?” I momentarily paused for thought – quick riposte or further query – but then espied one the correct way round so concluded it was a mistake.

The next wry smile was engendered when I spotted that the Town Hall doubled as an Asylum albeit used erstwhile as a church as well.

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Finally, why does the tender (aka lifeboat) have an open window at the top to let a significant swell and spray come in?! Especially onto me?!

Yesterday’s sea day coincided, as Kath mentioned, with Super Bowl. I last watched it live in the ‘80s when ‘my’ team was Walter Payton’s Chicago Bears. I don’t have a particular favourite team these days but have great admiration for the playing of Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. He didn’t win this time and Kath and I were reassured that we had visited Philadelphia, home of the Eagles, last fall. I’d noticed a number of banners there advertising The Eagles with the clever play on the Autumn season with “We rise again every fall!” A superb game which, despite two controversial decisions, was played in seemingly good spirit.

Today at Port Arthur, for me, was affected by the thoughts of what those prisoners (and staff!) went through all those years ago. Extrapolate to today where we still allow physical and mental punishment for crimes. Of course, people do not need to commit crime. And, “If you don’t want to do the time, don’t commit the crime” is accurate but trite. However, there are cases of men being transported half way round the world not that long ago from their families for stealing food for their children. We have moved on and our excellent guide today was at pains to point out that the inmates here were serial offenders and the ‘worst of the bunch’. Even then, she explained, some form of education and training was provided. And now, it’s a World Heritage Site. Progress, indeed. I was moved by thoughts of my own childhood when I read the raison d’être of the prison, “To tame the most mutinous spirit”.

And, yet, in the mid-1990s, an Australian, Martin Bryant, committed a massacre of several dozen people here. Strict gun laws were almost immediately introduced. Too late for those killed but, hopefully, will save the lives of others. America, please take note.

Ann’s Additions

Should you ever think that a ‘sea day’ on a cruise would be dull, please allow me to change your mind. Today we’ve been sailing between Burnie and Port Arthur at quite a gentle speed, to ensure that we arrive tomorrow morning at the appointed hour. My day began with 5,000 steps on the Promenade Deck before breakfast. The staff had, obviously, been up much earlier ‘swabbing’ the deck in preparation for we early morning walkers and joggers.

Resisting the temptation of watching the Super Bowl, I set off for the Crow’s Nest to learn a little about the flowers on the ship and to watch her two florists as they created some beautiful arrangements. Apparently, flowers only come on board at the start of a cruise and last at least two weeks. Orchids, for example, are ‘fed’ two ice cubes a week and, in the controlled environment of the ship, it certainly does the trick.

Almost immediately after this learning experience, I join some more American ladies to learn how to make a Maori poi. We all had fun with foam, scissors and wool, instructed carefully by the Maori group who are on board with us. The poi is used in Maori rhythmical dances.

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So, having enjoyed the morning session, I return after lunch to learn about Maori designs and their meaning. Carving in, for example, wood, stone and jade and even on human skin i.e. tattoos and paintings. Their meanings become clear when explained by the Maoris themselves – whether it’s good fortune, good fishing or handing down culture and family traditions. Hopefully, we shall see some of these designs as we travel New Zealand.

And finally, before dinner, there is a very informative talk about what will be our first glimpses of New Zealand – Milford Sound and the fiords. (Geography rules ok!) This will be followed, for us, by visits to Dunedin, Christchurch, Picton and Wellington. Hearing about ports of call from someone whose job – lucky Kelly! – it is to explore these places on our behalf, makes it possible for us to gain even more from a comparatively short visit.

To conclude the day – dinner, a magic show and blues at BBKings.

All that and a total of 13,000 steps! At this rate I shall need a holiday to recover from the holiday!

Burnie – a small town with a big welcome!

Burnie

Another brilliant day dawned and the sun was already cracking the flagstones when we docked at Burnie, our first Tasmanian port of call, at about 07.30. I had zero expectations (a) because it was Sunday in a small town and (b) because the total population was only 20,000. How wrong could I be? As we walked down the gangway there were the Mayor and Mayoress, he in his civic regalia and she beautifully dressed, waiting to offer a warm welcome. We went on to meet a large number of equally warm and friendly people, who drove the shuttle buses from the port to the town, and proudly stood by to answer questions, direct us to attractions and generally engage with these wonderful tourists who had graciously come to visit. They couldn’t do enough to please and it was a truly humbling experience. I am not sure that either the visiting Brits (a few of us) or the Americans (a lot of them) are known for their quiet appreciation of such generosity of spirit, but I saw a lot of smiles and chat being returned to our hosts for the day and felt glad that perhaps, for once, we represented our nations kindly.

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We were taken to a ‘Makers’ Workshop’ where local craftspeople created and sold their wares. It was all beautifully made and not outrageously priced, as in similar outlets. There was hand crafted paper, woollen items, exquisitely carved wood, hand crafted jewellery, paintings of all kinds, as well as a truly excellent coffee shop.

There was a stop at an Arts Centre, which exhibits local artists and photographers and doubles as a Town Hall and Performing Arts Centre. I think they opened up on Sunday especially for us.

Ann and I engaged in paddling and shell foraging along the beach, although I suspect we were not seeing the best of the beaches which would have been well clear of those surrounding the very industrial port area where our ship had docked. We took a stroll around the neat and clean town centre (mainly not open for Sunday trading) but the townsfolk were keen that we should see everything, including a rhododendron Park, supposedly in full bloom.

It may not have been the most stunningly beautiful port of call, but in terms of the people and their wonderful welcome, Burnie must begin to feature as a ‘must visit’ for more cruise lines and I am delighted to have had an opportunity to see this particular corner of Tasmania.

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

Well, what can I add… ?

Such lovely people. What Kath didn’t mention was that the town was hit by an employment catastrophe only a few years ago. The town of about 20000 had a wood mill which employed over 4000 directly. It closed and one can only imagine the thoughts of those people and their community. Memories of Welsh and Yorkshire villages destroyed when their mines closed came to my mind. It’s easier, I suppose, in an almost idyllic island to reinvent itself as a tourist destination than in the valleys of Wales or the ‘dark satanic mill’ infested Northern coalfields. Nevertheless, rebuilding communities destroyed by a corporate quirk takes courage and vision. Burnie has both. It also has many people who are committed to contribute voluntarily and cheerfully to welcoming each and every visitor with a generous smile and helpful guidance. They deserve success and we were happy to spend some money in the few shops open on Sunday.

I posted elsewhere that their Information Centre was probably the best I’d seen with certainly the best views and possibly the best coffee cups. Well worth a visit and a return someday

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Entertainment on board ship is varied and includes activities and evening entertainments. This afternoon, Ann and I went to watch the film ‘The Dressmaker’ starring Kate Winslet. A well-crafted piece. Stylised in part and the story developed at pace despite the flashbacks. Death, sadness, infirmity and illness strangely produced laughter from a number of the audience… including Ann! Hmm! The ending was theatre at its best with the mentally scarred heroine walking toward the camera with the backdrop of the devastated town aflame which she identified as the curse she had carried for her lifetime and had returned to exorcise. She seemed content… as were we..

Sydney, 🎼🎶🎤“Don’t go changing…” Onwards to Melbourne.

 

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Our departure from Sydney felt quite sad but was clearly exciting as we were joining MS Noordam en route for Melbourne, Tasmania and New Zealand. We enjoyed the smoothest and most stress-free embarkation ever previously known and rushed to unpack, get our bearings (locate important points like food and drink) before taking part in the ubiquitous safety drill. They are quite strict on board Holland America ships. If you don’t take part, you can’t sail. Aye, aye Cap’n! But a stiff breeze blew up and off we went, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, followed closely by the Opera House before waving to all the little bays and reaching a very strong swell; a clear indication we were turning into the ocean.

A lazy day at sea followed and I think we were all grateful to relax after our hectic few days, ease the muscles and catch up on some sleep. I still love being rocked to sleep by the motion of the ocean! Of course, we took part in ship board offerings but there was no pressure to be or to do.

Today dawned with a beautiful blue sky full of promise for a hot day in Melbourne. And, so it was. 27 degrees, hot sun and a fabulous day in one of Australia’s beautiful cities. It is very different to Sydney with much evidence through its majestic buildings of its colonial past. Museums chronicle its growth and origins whilst embracing the multiple cultures which make up its present.

Riding the free trams (complete with helpful commentary) was both informative and fun. Sights peaked out from lush foliage – how wonderful to be here in mid summer – and we were happy to soak up the information about where we could go if we were here for longer. We had to make do with a walk besides the Yarra River, the tram ride and a dive into some of the intriguing alleyways in search of a snack in the shade. An excellent day out…..Tasmania tomorrow.

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

Sydney always brings to mind – for me – the Tetley Tea men of TV advert fame. “Don’t go changing…” is one of the classics but, of course, Sydney, Australia is changing. It’s history is relatively brief in European terms but it is rich in culture both Aboriginal and, more latterly, settlers, immigrants and, as some think the derivation of ‘Pommies’, the prisoners of mother England, i.e. the sometimes minor criminals who were transported half way round the world. After penal labour, they could earn their freedom in the New World. Times have changed and are changing. Sydney is impressive. Vibrant, youthful, developing and, whilst we were there, hot!

But, we sailed away. Under the majestically impressive Sydney Harbour Bridge, watching, again, where Ann walked above, glancing for a final time, perhaps, at the Opera House, we sailed into the sunset bound for a day at sea and then to Melbourne.

Days at sea are an opportunity to catch up with chores and sleep! We sampled B.B. King’s Blues Club on our first night aboard and watched the ‘main entertainment’ show in the theatre last evening. More than reasonable quality but my preference is for live instruments as well as vocals. Also, a preference for beat, brash and bawdy.

Melbourne (remembering to shorten the final vowel to ‘…burn’) is another proud city. Proud of its past, secure in its present and confident of its future. Public sculpture celebrates the city’s eventful history and graffiti from the recent Equal Marriage referendum, together with a huge billboard reminding us of refugees and our responsibilities, bear testament to a social conscience. Its ‘gold rush’ days are celebrated with a gold topped skyscraper.

We rode one of the historic trams around the city centre which, as Kath indicated, was free. A clever way to encourage use of public transport as you are signposted to other (paid) trams crossing the city. Apparently, Melbourne is the city with the best and largest tramway system in the world. A pity we were only here for one day.