Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cruising II: Hobart to Adelaide

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion....

(Robert Burns, To a Louse)

I've often seen the cruise ships coming up the river into Hobart and wondered what impression the visitors get of the place. Well now I've done it for myself, I must say that the approach to Hobart and the port itself make a fine entry to Tasmania, and sitting in the Crows Nest bar with its 180 degree view at night showed off the waterfront to its best advantage.

Battery Point from the ship.
Pity about Empress Towers.

View from the Crows Nest.
It was part of our duty to be in the bar, honest.

It was a day's sailing down to Tasmania from Eden and we woke to find the ship moored off Port Arthur on a perfect morning. As I was doing my morning constitutional around the promenade deck I heard several people come out and say "Wow, look at that" as they looked across the water to the penitentiary and the hills behind. I didn't go ashore ($28 just to step ashore from the tender!). But many did, and we then sailed again at midday around Tasman Island and Cape Pillar into Storm Bay (no storms, but lots of dolphins), and then around the Iron Pot into the Derwent.

Port Arthur.
Tenders taking the visitors ashore.

Cape Pillar, Tasman Island in the distance.
Spectacular coast, lots of wildlife.

I could pick out our house as we sailed up the river, but I wasn't to know that there was no one home (in fact Jeannie arrived home just in time to see the ship disappear behind the trees). Hobart is a good port because passengers can walk off the ship and straight into the town. I did that and met Jeannie and then Hugh and the family, so that I could at least show them the ship from a distance. Sadly I was way too late to organise for them to come aboard. But we had fish and chippies on the wharf and Angus admired it from a distance.

Angus, and Budda's big ship.

That's my ship.
Hugh & Jess, George in the stroller.

The traveler and family.
Note the Holland America tote bag.

After the chippies, we had icecream at Sticky Fingers.

George had some too.

An overnight stay in Hobart allowed me to do some mundane things like get my winter flu shot and go home and do the washing up. Jeannie was busy with the State election, which happened the next day, so I didn't see much of her. Niall earned the undying gratitude of the bar staff by driving them out to Bonorong wildlife park so they could get to see a kangaroo in their rather brief time ashore.

The Volendam in Hobart.
Much closer to the city than in most ports.

We sailed from Hobart at midnight, back up the east coast of Tasmania, between Cape Barren Island and the Tasmanian mainland and then across Bass Strait to Melbourne, another day and night at sea (and consequently lecturing time for us). In Melbourne we met up with an old flatmate of Niall's who took us to St Kilda where we had brunch, browsed the Sunday market and had a beer at the Esplanade Hotel (home of the Gershwin Room and Rockwiz, for those who know).

An evening sailing from Melbourne, just early enough to see our passage through the Heads (it takes two hours to cross the Bay), and much nicer than last year when we sailed out under a pall of smoke from the fires. Niall is always keen for a bit movement in the ship, since he's a good sailor, but we didn't get much. The passage to Adelaide was the roughest and that was certainly nothing to trouble me. It was also interesting from the wildlife angle, since we saw lots of birds and whales, 7 or 8 of the latter blowing at once. Probably humpbacks, but fin and even blue whales are not unknown in this area.

Farewell, Melbourne.
Station Pier.

Adelaide put on a clear blue day for us and I was collected by Paul Charlton and taken off to lunch with his mother Ruth, now in her 93rd year and still firing on all cylinders. Paul is a keen shipping buff, and was able to tell me all about the port, and the Queen Mary II which had been preceding us at several ports a week or so before.

Then it was off for a couple of days sailing across the Great Australian Bight, and I'll leave that till next time.

This has been a displacement activity, really. Jo, Jac and Marty are about to take off from LAX as I write..... correction, they have just taken off!