Tag Archives: cruise

Sydney, 11th February 2014

Day 15 of our cruise and we’ve arrived at Sydney – the cultural capital of Australia? Melbourne-ites will argue differently!

Sydney is the site of the first British colony in Australia, established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip, of the First Fleet.  The city is built on hills surrounding Port Jackson, which is commonly known as Sydney Harbour, where the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are prominent structures.

With only a day to explore the sights, we headed first for ‘The Rocks”.

The Rocks, just west of circular key, is the neighbourhood where Sydney was born. It was here that Australia’s founding fathers – convicts who had been charged with anything from theft to forgery – came ashore in 1788 to build the colony of New South Wales. The Rocks was once one of Sydney’s most squalid a dangerous quarters, a Dickensian warren of warehouses, grog shops and brothels. It has since been rebuilt and regenerated and is now a great place to explore the plazas, the old shops and the many restaurants and pubs.

After the Rocks we headed for Circular Quay, which was alive with buskers selling everything from boomerangs and didgery doo’s to “rap” Aboriginal CD’s. This was also the place to book a ferry ride around the harbour, and though we had already seen the harbour as we came in on The Astor, it was a convenient way of getting to our next destination – Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour is a modern leisure precinct, with lots of shops, restaurant and attractions, including the Sydney Aquarium – which we didn’t have time to visit. Our priority instead was to have a leisurely lunch and some highly quafable wine at ‘Nick’s’, and yes, yet another seafood platter!

It was then back to the ship, and a memorable exit from Sydney harbour, with a few more photo opportunities of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the iconic Opera House. All accompanied to the usual “Hot, Hot, Hot” song and dance from our Entertainment Team on the upper pool deck.

Next stop – Brisbane.

Sydney Harbour
Sydney Harbour
Aboriginal buskers at Circular Key
Aboriginal buskers at Circular Key
Sydney harbour bridge - what else! Linda - who else!
Sydney harbour bridge – what else! Linda – who else!
Sydney harbour, showing Circular Quay
Sydney harbour, showing Circular Quay
Lunch (seafood) at Nick's
Lunch (seafood) at Nick’s





Eden, 10th February 2014

Day 14 of our circumnavigation of Australia cruise.

Eden was an enchanting little town with some wonderful white-sand beaches. With a population of only 3000 people, it provided a significant contrast to the hustle and bustle of our previous port of call, Melbourne.

Whaling played a very important role in the town’s economy for over 100 years before its decline in the area in the 1920s and its end in 1930. Eden’s Killer Whale Museum informs visitors of the history of whaling in the area and the role of Orcas (killer whales) led by Old Tom in herding whales into the harbour and helping whalers kill them. Initially the prevalent Orcas in the area were seen as a nuisance, but the boat crews (Yuin aboriginals), refused to kill Orcas, and instead they encouraged collaboration between whalers and the killer whales; the killer whales would trap humpback whales that entered Twofold Bay, the whales would then be harpooned by the boat crews, and the Orcas rewarded with prize pieces of the humpback carcasses. A sort of symbiotic relationship between man and Orca.

After a walk though the town, we returned to the port area for a wonderful seafood lunch of locally caught produce, which included oysters, shrimps, mussels, Morton Bay bug (a sort of small lobster) and ‘catch of the day’ fish. We then headed for the headed for the beach at Cattle Bay and relaxing swim in the crystal clear – and warm – sea. A perfect end to the day!

Eden Whale Museum - home of "Old Tom"
Eden Whale Museum – home of “Old Tom”
Cattle Bay Beach
A ‘selfie” from Cattle Bay Beach, Eden.


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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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!