Melbourne, 8th February 2014

Day 12 of our cruise and we’ve arrived at Melbourne.

I was looking forward to meeting Shawn Callahan and his wife Sheenagh who had kindly offered to give us a tour of their wonderful city. Shawn was an early pioneer of the art of storytelling for getting organisations to behave more collaboratively and improve knowledge flows. I’ve followed Shawn for several years on social media, and have been a regular reader of his blogs and the services he provides through his company Anecdote.com. I met him face to face a couple of years ago at one of his Storytelling Workshops that he occasionally runs in London, but as I’ve mentioned, our friendship has been primarily nurtured through social media.

We’ve always known that you can only really scratch the surface of a city’s culture and get a mere glimpse of some of the main attractions when you only have 8 hours or so before sailing to the next destination on the schedule, but Shawn and Sheenagh managed to pack in an extraordinary amount of sightseeing and information during our brief visit. And all of this without ever feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Perhaps they should consider branching out into the travel business!

So, after a breakfast of fresh croissants and coffee, we explored the Botanical Gardens, with views of Government House; we took in Federation Square, overlooked by the imposing architecture of St Pauls Cathedral; we experienced the café culture of the many narrow and intersecting lanes; we had a slightly surreal refreshment break at the “Captains of Industry” – a café that also provides shoe repairs, a barbers and a tailors. We had an excellent lunch across town at a retro-restaurant called the Action Rooms, where we met Shawn and Sheenagh’s daughter, Georgia, before finishing the day at the Post Office – not for stamps, this was the name of the local pub.

Altogether, a wonderful day for Lynda and I, and a Melbourne experience we won’t forget.

Skyline, Melbourne
Skyline, Melbourne
Lynda and Steve at the Botanical Gardens
Lynda and Steve at the Botanical Gardens
Shawn and Sheenagh at the Botanical Gardens
Shawn and Sheenagh at the Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens, Melbourne
Botanical Gardens, Melbourne
Iris
A flower (Iris) at the Botanical Gardens
Flinders St Railway Station (loved the Victorian architecture)
Flinders St Railway Station (loved the Victorian architecture)
One of the many 'Lanes", Melbourne
One of the many vibrant ‘Lanes” in Melbourne.
Lunch at "The Auction Rooms".
Lunch at “The Auction Rooms” (spot Lynda).

 

 

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Port Arthur, Tasmania 6th February 2014

Day 10 of our cruise and we’ve arrived at the historic heritage site of Port Arthur. Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula, in Tasmania, Australia. Port Arthur is officially Tasmania’s top tourist 
attraction. It is located approximately 60
 kilometers south east of the state capital, Hobart. 

The site forms part of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage property consisting of eleven remnant penal sites originally built within the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries on fertile Australian coastal strips. Collectively, these sites, including Port Arthur, now represent, “…the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.”

From 1833, until 1853, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent here, a quite undesirable punishment. In addition Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.

The peninsula on which Port Arthur is located is a naturally secure site by being surrounded by water (rumoured by the administration to be shark-infested). The Island of the Dead was the destination for all who died inside the prison camps. Of the 1646 graves recorded to exist there, only 180, those of prison staff and military personnel are marked. The prison closed in 1877.

On 28 April 1996, the Port Arthur historic site was the location of a killing spree. The subsequently convicted perpetrator murdered 35 people and wounded 23 more before being captured by the Special Operations Group of the Tasmania Police. The killing spree led to a national ban on semi-automatic shotguns and rifles. The perpetrator, Martin Bryant, is currently serving 35 life sentences plus 1,035 years without parole in the psychiatric wing of Risdon Prison in Hobart, Tasmania.

However, despite this rather tragic history, it has a very tranquil atmosphere and is a beautiful place to visit.

Port Arthur Penitentiary
Port Arthur – the Penitentiary
Seclusion cell
Seclusion Cell
Prisoner garb (the one on the left!)
Prisoner garb (the one on the left!)
Lynda pondering the Penitentiary
Lynda pondering the Penitentiary
Port Arthur, The Astor
Port Arthur Bay and The Astor

 

 

 

 

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Hobart, Tasmania: 5th February 2014

Day 9 of our cruise, so it must be Hobart, internationally famous among the yachting community as the finish of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which starts in Sydney Boxing Day.

Hobart is the state capital and most populous city of the Australian island state of Tasmania (pop 212,000). Founded in 1804 as a penal colony, it is Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney. The skyline is dominated by Mt. Wellington at 1,271 metres, which has its own ecosystem and plays a large part in determining the local weather.

The highlight today was our guided tour that took in the Bonorong Wildlife Park, a sanctuary for orphaned or injured native wildlife. We mingled with (and fed) the many kangaroos that populated the grassy areas, and saw – close-up –  koalas, wombats, possums, and the famous Tasmanian Devils.

From there we travelled to the historic village of Richmond, which could have been mistaken for any small Cotswold village, with its Georgian architecture, galleries, cafés and boutiques. The chocolate-box scene was completed by a beautiful sandstone bridge that crossed the river that lazily meandered through the village. A perfect place to settle if you enjoy small-village life, and glorious weather all year round – what more could you ask for!

Our day was rounded off with a taste of the wide variety of fresh seafood at Mure’s restaurant overlooking the harbour, where we slightly over-indulged ourselves with local mussels, oysters, crayfish and squid.

Out of all the places we’ve visited so far, Hobart is by far our favourite, and I’d quite happily up-sticks and move here permanently – given the chance!

Hobart harbour. Mt Wellington in the background.

Hobart harbour, Tasmania

 Lynda feeds a kangaroo.

Lynda feeds a kangaroo!

 A swarm of kangaroo’s queuing for food

A swarm of kangaroo's, queuing to be fed.

 A Tasmanian Devil – of course!

Tasmanian Devil - of course!

 Ahhh, a cuddly Koala

Ahhh, cuddly Koala

 The seafood arrives at Mures!

The seafood food arrives!

Kangaroo Island, Adelaide and onward to Tasmania: 01/02 February 2014

Days 5 and 6 of our cruise.

We took a short (30 minute) trip from Perth to Fremantle on the 28th January where we got the first glimpse of our home for the next 35 days – the cruise ship Astor. Following a relatively painless processing by Australian Border Control, we were escorted by Astor staff to our cabin, and so began the unpacking process – my small suitcase and Lynda’s two large suitcases and various shoulder bags, carrier bags and other paraphernalia that she had accumulated during our brief sojourn in Perth. Fortunately the cabin was equipped with ample storage space, though I did donate all my allocation of drawer space to ensure all of Lynda’s stuff could be unpacked!

We sailed from Freemantle later in the afternoon, with 3 day’s at sea before reaching Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island on the 1st February. Penneshaw is a small township of approx. 265 residents and is the island’s main ferry port with regular services from Cape Jervis.

We hadn’t booked any officially organized tours for Kangaroo Island, but there was a courtesy bus tour operated by local volunteers that took us on a circular route around Penneshaw. We thereafter limited ourselves to Hog Bay, an excellent sandy swimming beach, and home to a colony of Fairy Penguins (which we didn’t see as they only appear in the late evening).

In case we forget?

Kangaroos Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aboriginal “Contemplation Seat”

Contemplation Seat, Kangaroos Island

 Hog Bay

Hog Bay

Fairy Penguins (though none sighted!)

Fairy Penguins, Kangaroo Island

The rest of our time on the island was spent – I’m afraid to admit – in the local pub, enjoying cool beers, the ubiquitous Australian meat pie, and the most excellent King George Whiting – possibly the best fish I’ve ever tasted.

It was then back on board for an evening’s sailing to Adelaide, where we arrived at 8am on the morning of 2nd February. The day started out hot, at around 37C, but climbed to a very uncomfortable 45C by midday. Even the breeze burnt your skin!

We took the local train from the port to the city centre – a journey of around 22km, and spent most of our time seeking out a good Wi-Fi service on Rundle Mall (the main shopping area) so that I could post my ramblings about Perth. Tip: forget about the free Wi-Fi service at McDonald’s (appallingly slow) and head for the Apple store (free Wi-Fi and blindingly fast).

Spot the pig? Adelaide shopping mall.

Spot the pig? Adelaide Shopping Mall

We found the heat pretty limiting in terms of doing any exploring of the city, so headed back to the ship by mid-afternoon for some very welcome cool beers. We sailed at 4pm – the entertainment staff performing their usual ‘sail-away’ party – destination Hobart in Tasmania, two day’s sailing – and much merriment – away.