Published: November 24th 2009November 23rd 2009
We got up at 5:30am to watch our cruise into Sydney Harbor. It is such a grand entry past the “Heads,” which stand sentry at the entrance from the sea. Captain Cook missed this narrow opening and ended up in Botany Bay during his explorations of Australia.
Sydneysiders John and Dawn picked us up and took us sightseeing through the suburbs and on up to the northern beaches. Palm Beach is a rather posh area of town with the ocean on one side and the Hawkesbury River on the other. It is a great boating area. After a fine lunch we took a ferry ride to several of the more remote communities hugging the sides of the river. We stopped for a visit with two of their daughters, Monica and Catherine and four grandchildren. Although all of their children were raised in America when John was with the IMF, they and their American husbands are totally settled in Australia—much to the joy of John and Dawn. We had a lovely dinner at their home in Mosman which overlooks the “Heads.” We only see each other once or twice a year, so there is always a lot of catching up to do.
John showed us his Order of Australia medal which he was awarded earlier this year. This honor was given to him for his contributions to international financial planning and for enhancing US/Australian relations.
John and Dawn gave us an all day pass on the ferry. The Sydney Ferries are just a superb way of traveling around this waterborne city. The frequency of service and the numerous stops make it very convenient for commuting or sightseeing. Our ship was docked at Circular Quay which is the hub of the ferry system. We jumped on a ferry and just went where it took us—this one to Darling Harbor near the Aquarium and the Maritime Museum. Sydney is often compared to San Francisco which is a very accurate comparison except Sydney is generally warmer and has many more coves and anchorages. Most of the large commercial maritime traffic has been moved out of the central bay, so it is now filled with sailboats and tour boats and colorful ferries. This vibrant world class city is certainly one of the most photogenic as it abounds at every turn with photo ops. The sparkling harbor, the lively neighborhoods, the surfing beaches, the exciting nightlife scene
and the high-powered business center all blend to create one of our favorite places in the world.
We have some interesting Cruise Specialists passengers aboard who are very seasoned travelers. Bonnie was traveling on her own to Afghanistan, Russia and Iran back in the 1960s. She and her husband Lou, who was your friendly hardware store owner in Manhattan for years, still love to explore the world especially via cruise ships. Judy and Aaron, lawyers from Atlanta, are now planning their 50th wedding anniversary cruise. We have enjoyed numerous meals and excursions with these inveterate travelers.
While in Sydney Bonnie and Lou took a seaplane excursion and wrote it up. Here is Bonnie and Lou’s report: “We began our flight-seeing tour by driving to Rose Bay where we boarded our 5 passenger seaplane. Everyone had a window seat which was fantastic as the scenery was absolutely outstanding! We flew over bays, beaches, islands, light houses, sandstone cliffs, golf courses, sailboats and various shades of azure colored waters as we made our way along the coast. The pilot turned inland and followed the Hawkesbury River. We landed on the water at the secluded Cottage Point Inn where we had a terrific
three hour/three course lunch (with the lightest soufflé we’ve ever enjoyed). We were entertained by two Kookaburra birds perched on the railing begging for a handout. The owners said they were carnivorous and fed them the same beef and lamb they had served us. The highlight of our return trip was flying by the iconic Sydney Opera House, the Harbor Bridge and, of course, the Regent Mariner. So now we’ve seen Sydney by land, sea and air. I wonder--does anyone do a submarine tour?”
There was a big staff change in Sydney. Jamie and Dana, Concierge Manuela and Chef Mike were all going home for a month in order to get ready for the world cruise. Captain Patruno would be leaving in Hobart to be replaced by Stan De Lacombe.
We spent our last morning going to the Haymarket, Chinatown and wandering around the waterfront. For sail-away, the ship invited all 19 of us “Gappers” to the bow of the ship on the foredeck for a cocktail party to honor Robert and Mary on their 60th anniversary and to enjoy the sights from near sea level. As we passed the Opera House, we saw Jamie and Dana waving “Ciao and
Happy Anniversary” signs. The Captain saluted them with a few toots of the horn and then we wove our way through hundreds of sailboats out of this stunning harbor and into the always exciting Tasman SeaWe spent our last morning going to the Haymarket, Chinatown and wandering around the waterfront. For sail-away, the ship invited all 19 of us “Gappers” to the bow of the ship on the foredeck for a cocktail party to honor Robert and Mary on their 60th anniversary and to enjoy the sights from near sea level. As we passed the Opera House, we saw Jamie and Dana waving “Ciao and Happy Anniversary” signs. The Captain gave a few toots of the horn and then we wove our way through hundreds of sailboats out of this stunning harbor and into the always exciting Tasman Sea.
We had a short stop in Eden which is called the killer whale capital of the world. We visited their museum where there were some whales’ tales about a fisherman who was swallowed by a whale and extracted 17 hours later by his fishing buddies. His skin was bleached white by the stomach acids and he was blinded but he did
survive—somewhat akin to Jonah and the whale story. I saw kangaroos in the wild for the first time—if you consider a golf course in the wild! Then there was “Old Tom” the Orca whale who would aid the fishermen in rounding up gray whales. There was an old telegraph machine where Mr McGrath sent a telegram to my Dad using the old Morse Code of dots and dashes.
It was a cold, rainy Sunday in Hobart, Tasmania so after a brief bus trip and wet walk-about, we took the time to get caught up on projects and get ready for New Zealand as we began our final month of the Grand Asia Pacific Cruise.
There are more photos below