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Published: February 27th 2011
Atop Mt Wellington
Fast ride down 4,000ft Welly
After leaving New Zealand we crossed the Tasman Sea aka "The Terrible Tassie." We lucked out with the weather for most of the passage and then when it did start to deteriorate Captain Scala put the pedal to the metal and got us into Hobart, Tasmania twelve hours early. This trip has been remarkable thus far in many ways but especially weather-wise. To cross the immense Pacific Ocean without encountering any severe storms is very lucky indeed. There have been reports of big weather systems arriving before and after us along the way and a number of cyclones have followed in our path but due to the luck of our schedule we have managed to miss them all.
Tasmania is a beautiful island almost at the end of the world. It is famous for its clean air and waters and its bountiful land. Over 25% of the land has been set aside as nature preserves and hikers come from all over the world to trek the trails which crisscross the island. We had private car arrangements for some of our Cruise Specialists guests. It was a good day for touring. I was recovering from a bit of strep throat so
Oldest brewery in Australia
it was a good day for me to rest up. Kevin took a bike ride from the top of Mt Wellington back to the ship. This 4000’ mountain towers over Hobart and the descent is quite steep. Kevin enjoyed it immensely. The bike guide was a “Yank” from Lake Tahoe who moved to Tasmania to follow his girlfriend. He loves living “down under” and the only thing he misses is Mexican food. So he and his girlfriend are experimenting with their own recipes even to the point of growing their own jalapeño peppers. We also miss a good enchilada when we are out roaming the world as that is one type of food that does not seem to have established itself outside of North America.
We had a Cruise Specialist party on the aft deck as we sailed away from this provincial town and that was our last bit of calm weather before crossing the notorious Bass Strait. In 2005 we encountered our strongest storm at sea in this area which involved 100+ mph winds and 60-80’ seas. This time we just had some rough seas and blustery conditions. The outer decks were closed and Captain Scala decided to
Gillian and Walter
Virgin Islands and New Jersey residents and fellow boaters.
again get us into Melbourne as soon as possible. So we arrived in the calm waters of Port Phillip Bay half a day ahead of schedule.
Melbourne is such a great city and it is great to have friends show us around. John and Cheryl took us on a visit to some of the lovely spots. This is a very user-friendly town with free trams and buses and volunteer tourist guides on the corners giving information. The city is filled with parks and green spaces and ethnic neighborhoods. Their Chinatown is one of the oldest in the Western world. After the end of WWII there was also a huge influx of Greek and Italian immigrants. We visited Captain Cook’s Cottage which was dismantled in England, shipped to Australia and reassembled. It sits in Fitzroy Gardens and is quite a tourist attraction. That evening long time friends, Jan and Bob joined the four of us on board for dinner and dancing. We met them on the P&O Oriana sailing from England in 1997 and have kept in touch ever since. There is a spirited rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne as to which is the best. To us both are great
and each has their own charms. The economy is booming and these are vibrant cities filled with flowering gardens, sidewalk cafes and bustling retail districts. The big change is that now the U.S. dollar is at parity with the Australian dollar. It wasn't so long ago when our dollar bought two Auzzie dollars. This makes it very expensive for us travelers to the land of 'Oz."
The news out of Christchurch is still so awful. New Zealand’s Prime Minister called the terrible destruction and loss of life their “darkest day”. Search and Rescue brigades are being flown in from all over the world including the United States. I think the situation is quickly turning into a recovery mode as there is little hope of finding any more survivors. It is estimated that about 65% of the city is destroyed. The beautiful Cathedral bell tower spire collapsed in the quake and has become a tomb of trapped tourists. I can’t see how they could ever rebuild since the area lies directly on an earthquake fault. As we are about to observe in the flooded north of Australia, nature can be extremely cruel and many times in a disaster it is
just sheer luck that determines who will live to tell the tale of an earth shattering event.
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