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Published: February 18th 2010
Usually we go to the top deck of the ship to watch our arrival into one of the prettiest harbors in the world. But unfortunately it was raining kangaroos and koalas as we cruised between the two Heads which mark the entrance to Sydney Harbour. We had private cars arranged for some of our passengers and told them that there is plenty to do and see in this exciting city even in the rain. We went to the Old Haymarket, which was the original market in Sydney and still thrives today with hundreds of stalls filled with touristic paraphernalia and vegetables, fish and clothing and anything else one could possibly need. It seems that sunglass and sunhat booths abound at the market which is apropos in this usually sunburnt country.
Our Aussie friends, John and Dawn, came in from the suburb of Mosman to have dinner on the ship. They have been on board enough times that they are recognized by many of our world cruiser friends. The next morning the rains cleared enough so that they took us on an hour’s ride north of Sydney up to the Hawkesbury River area. The gorgeous river valley is surrounded by national
parks and dotted with islands. Boating and houseboat rentals are a favorite pastime on this lazy river. We took a ferry to Peats Bite and had a wonderful three hour lunch complete with about 30 different dishes to choose from. This family run operation consists of Mom and Dad who perform songs from the 50s and 60s and throw in a few verses of “Waltzing Matilda” for good measure. They sang birthday wishes to Kevin and when they told the rest of the diners that we were traveling around the world on a ship everyone had to come by and chat about our trip. One couple from Adelaide had flown up to Sydney just to see the Voyager as they are cruising on her next summer. They couldn’t get on board but they were content just to be able to see the her from the pier. That’s like flying from Dallas to Miami just to look at a ship’s hull! We gave them a ship’s postcard and brochure and they were thrilled.
The owner’s son, Kim, is the ferry boat driver and a genuine Aussie bloke. Barefoot and unshaven he told us about his life at Peats where every
piece of wood, food, wine, linen or shingle has to be brought in by boat and the whole resort has to generate its own water and electricity. The huge rain the day prior caused a mudslide which filled their swimming pool and Kim spent the day bailing out sinking boats and mopping up flooding cabins. We had a super afternoon with our good friends and their cordial country folks.
That night we met up with John and Babsie for a farewell drink on the quay next to the iconic Opera House. They were heading back to Massachusetts after spending three weeks on the ship. They will be missed by us and their many other friends on board.
We stopped in Brisbane—a place we hadn’t been in 25 years. I didn’t recognize a thing but it looks to be a very prosperous city along the Gold Coast. This is the home of surfers and boaters and beach goers and is turning into a popular retirement area for Australians. Steve Irwin’s zoo is located here along with one of the largest koala sanctuaries in Australia. As we sailed down the river from Brisbane to the Coral Sea, we had a
54/64 and still goin' strong!
Cruise Specialists sunset party on the aft deck on a perfectly beautiful evening.
The next nine days were somewhat of a blur as first Kevin came down with a stomach virus and then I was similarly afflicted several days later. In those nine days we only went out one night—on Kevin’s birthday to have a Champagne toast with Captain Dag whose birthday is also Feb 10. Mike and Sherry and Hilda and Jarmo wished Kevin birthday cheers and they had Jerry Vasi, the resident guitarist play “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” Then we stayed in our cabin for five days missing Cairns—one of our favorite towns in Australia. At least we could see the city from our balcony. Our stop at Thursday Island in the Torres Strait was canceled due to a scheduling situation. So with all of these sea days, we actually picked a good time to be sick—if there is such a thing. Our stewardess cleaned our room twice daily, room service is readily available 24 hours a day and we had a nice view of the passing islands of the Great Barrier Reef. We had a romantic Valentine’s
Voyager at Circular Quay
Photo taken from John & Babs Room at Four Seasons
Day dinner in our room consisting of chicken broth and ice water.
Our last stop in Australia was in the booming port town of Darwin in the Northern Territories. We only managed to take the shuttle downtown and have a look around and then scurry back to the ship. We are fortunate that we have been to Australia many times, most recently last November, but we were still sorry that we weren’t able to do more of our usual exploring here in this wildly exuberant country.
Now we’re on our way to Indonesia and Asia --- an area of the world that requires lots of energy. After the searing heat and high humidity of Northern Australia, it is hard to imagine that within two weeks we will be bundling up against the cold Chinese winter winds. “Gung Hai Fat Choy” as the locals say during this Lunar New Year celebration of the Year of the Tiger.
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