Monday, 22 August 2011

more about Cruising

The Gulf of Carpentaria and the Arafura Sea, I can hardly believe that I have been there! I am going to read Alexis Wrights novel although slightly intimidated by the length - 500 pages - the book Carpentaria.

The Arafura Sea is known as one of the world's richest fishing grounds and we did see a couple of fishing boats (Roland assured me they were Refugee boats but I have his measure ... he is a terrible tease). The weather was beautiful, the sea 'slight' according to the Captain's Log. 

By this time we were more-or-less au fait with the layout of the Sun Princess; not entirely as there were so many dining rooms, lounges, theatres and the like. I kept on forgetting 'fore' and 'aft' and, as those who know me, know, 'left' and 'right' remain a mystery. We made friends with the people on our table and the evening meal became one of the highlights of the day. There were generally 8 of us and we got along so well. Lots of jokes and tall tales from Roland and Mike (from Brisbane) I'm sure they were trying to outdo each other making us laugh. Charles and Janet from Tasmania, Linda and Wills from Western Australia and, of course, Mike's wife Jenny and me making up the table. There were 2 or 3 formal dress nights and the passengers put on their finery. My finery consisted of a lovely top that Kath lent me and my Liz Davenport pants and the earrings Donna gave me. Oh, and my new purple thongs (flip flops) of course (remember I had a sore toe!)

Two days at sea relaxing and NOT doing laundry ... but swimming and dodging the big people ... chilling out and reading. Enforced relaxation is actually quite difficult.

Captain's Log: "After clearing the Dundas Strait in the early hours of the morning Sun Princess transited the Clarence Strait ..." and so on and so forth until we arrived in Darwin, anchoring at Fort Hill Wharf.

Darwin is wonderful! The city is vibrant and so much going on. We took a coach tour and our guide (a Kiwi) and our coach driver were knowledgeable. We went all over the place including the Botanical Gardens. I could have stayed there all day, so beautiful. In fact it was here and not Port Douglas where I first saw the Bismarck Palms that so took my fancy. 

 This tree in the Botanical Gardens conjures up all sorts of stories in my head. I only spotted it as we were about to leave so the photo is taken through the windscreen of the bus. 

Here I am standing by a lake in the Gardens. When we return to Darwin I will spend at least a day in these Gardens.

Some of the things we learned about Darwin: the Japanese dropped more bombs on Darwin than they did on Pearl Harbour. Every year the Greek Community hold a party on the Esplanade for all the inhabitants - free food for all comers! I'd like to be there for that! The Greek Church is painted blue and white looking like it has been transplanted from one of the Greek Islands.

The buildings in Darwin are modern and the architecture is innovative. There isn't much old Darwin left owing to Cyclone Tracey which demolished most of the city at Christmas in 1974. There are a number of websites that you can read; the link I've chosen is the Australian Archives. The Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory has a permanent exhibit of Cyclone Tracy, which is so realistic it is frightening. We didn't have time to go and look but that is also on the 'to do list' for our next visit. Also the Military Museum. 

A single day's visit isn't really enough but it is a good taster. Which reminds me, we went to a wine tasting one morning on the ship. I quite enjoyed it but some passengers thought it was a rip off. I guess it was to a certain extent. 

However, seeing so much in such a short time is tiring so I was pleased that the ship was tied up at the wharf and we didn't have to catch a tender. There was a curio stall in the building on the wharf and the woman running it recognised my accent. She had taught in Zimbabwe for some years and was so delighted to speak to somebody from the 'old country'! 

I was sad to leave Darwin but looking forward to the next part of the cruise - Kimberley Coastal. This was one of the main reasons we chose to go on this particular cruise and it did not disappoint.

will continue at a later date.


Laura said...

I like this post best of all so far. there's more of yourself (and others you befriended during your trip) in it, in amongst the itinerary info and history lessons of course, interesting as they undoubtedly are (for example I didn't know that about Darwin! you inspired me to look into it further).

Eleanor said...

Good to hear you are following the cruise Laura!