Tag Archives: Astor

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
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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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.

Circumnavigation of Australia – 25th January to 4th March 2014

MS AstorWith Christmas now a distant memory (well, 5 days can be a long time) and at least another 2 weeks before I sight my December credit card bill, I can perhaps look forward to the New Year with a sense of blissful ignorance as to whether I can really afford this next adventure – a circumnavigation of Australia on the good ship Astor (part of the Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet). The cruise also takes in a bit of Indonesia, specifically Bali, Lombok and Komodo, and a couple of stops in Tasmania.

My last visit to Australia was in 1973, during my days as a Royal Navy Artificer on HMS Lowestoft (RIP) . Those were the days when we had ships AND crews to sail in them. I’m guessing that Australia may have changed a bit in the intervening years, though I still have fond-though-blurry memories of a vibrant and edgy King’s Cross (Sydney). I suspect the places I visited back then, as a wet-behind-the-ears Navy apprentice, have long since been expunged from the travel brochures. I wonder whatever  happened to Sheila – I think that’s what she said her name was? Older and wiser than me, so probably drawing a pension by now!  Yes, today’s global travellers are considerably more refined (with the notable exception of the 18-30 demographic), so I’m anticipating our itinerary will focus far more on the sights, cultures and traditions of the places we visit. Though I suspect it will be more like a barbie at the Bondi than tea at the Ritz. I might add that I’m travelling with Linda (my current wife – she is in fact the only wife I’ve ever had, but it’s a great intro line to a new group of friends), so will be on best behaviour.

The only worrying thing is what to do or say if someone mentions the cricket (as in the Ashes)?  So embarrassing to be English right now. I could maybe brush up on my Ozzy twang (g’day Bruce) and join in with the jokes?!

Anyway, I’ve been playing with Google’s new Maps Engine Lite to provide a visual perspective of the cruise, which includes the full itinerary of dates (click on the pink location markers). We start off from Perth on 26th January 2014, completing the cruise in Freemantle on the 4th March 2014, a counter-clockwise circumnavigation.

The full itinerary is as follows:

  • 25th January – Leave UK
  • 26th January – Perth (Pan Pacific Hotel), Australia
  • 28th January – cruise starts in Freemantle, Australia
  • 1st February – Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island), Australia
  • 2nd February – Adelaide, Australia
  • 5th February – Hobart, Tasmania
  • 6th February – Port Arthur, Tasmania
  • 8th February – Melbourne, Australia
  • 10th February – Eden, Australia
  • 11th February – Sydney, Australia
  • 13th February – Brisbane, Australia
  • 16th February – Cairns, Australia
  • 21st February – Darwin, Australia
  • 24th February – Bali, Indonesia
  • 25th February – Lombok, Indonesia
  • 26th February – Komodo Island, Indonesia
  • 28th February – Broome, Australia
  • 4th March – Freemantle, Australia, for onward flight back to good ol’ Blighty.
  • Any dates listed without a port are sea days.

Astor image source: VollertBIT (Wikimedia Commons)

I will be updating this blog throughout our adventure, mainly as a means to creating a personal archive of stories and photos, so I will not be offended if any “accidental” readers decide to give it a miss. I don’t have enough of an ego to worry about social media statistics! But then again….it might let a bit a sunshine through the grey clouds of what might be a typical UK winter – some of which we’ll be sadly missing (not!).

I’m hoping there will be some time and opportunity to maybe meet up with a few long distance colleagues while we’re out there – Shawn Callahan, Sean Kelly, Leanne Casellas, Charlotte Hayes, Scott Bourke…I will be in touch!