Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cruising III. Adelaide to Fremantle

Oh dear! Like the Cornish Walker I'm feeling the tyranny of keeping up with a sequential blog. I left you somewhere in the Great Australian Bight and since then there has been so much more happening! So let's get the last section of the trip out of the way and clear the decks (har) for some more up to date posts.

Two days of gentle cruising (and a lecture or two) took us to out first port in Western Australia: Esperance. I had been looking forward to these stops since I visited the area years ago on a crayfish collecting expedition and found the coastline very attractive. So it was a pity that we arrived in low cloud and rain. However we still got glimpses of the islands of the Recherche Archipelago, granite tors really, and much higher than I had expected.

Recherche Archipelago, approaching Esperance

The port of Esperance handles more grain and minerals than cruise ships, but we squeezed in alongside the loading derricks with their colony of pigeons and attendant peregrine falcon. We weren't allowed to walk through the busy port, but it was just a short bus ride to the town centre. One of Esperance's claims to fame is that very nearly scored a direct hit from SkyLab when that large lump of space junk fell to earth back in 1979. The town's little museum had a display of SkyLab fragments alongside a delightful assemblage of other items.

Sign on the Esperance Museum

SkyLab fragments, Esperance Museum

Skylab fragments.
They looked, well, kinda primitive.

More Skylab fragments.
It must have been raining bits out there.

Esperance Museum.
It would have pleased Angus.

Startling flowering eucalypt, Esperance.

It was just an overnight cruise to Albany (not All-bany), a larger centre than Esperance, but still in the granite country. Great lumps of granite poke out of the earth in the middle of town. The Albanians were enjoying a weekend fair, and the place seemed busy and developing.

Ship graffiti, Albany wharf.

Granite outcrop, Albany.
I wonder why they call it Dog Rock?

More granite outcrops, Albany.
A bit oppressive for the householders!

Albany centre

Cannon outside Albany Museum.
I think the native were friendly.

The last lap to Fremantle took us a night and half a day, so we rounded Rottnest Island and docked in Freo in the afternoon, in bright, but breezy conditions. Niall and I met up with colleague Pierre Horwitz and some friends for an al fresco meal on the buzzing main drag.

Leaving Albany

Docking in Freo.
Perth CBD on the skyline.

Docking in Freo.
Upwind of the sheep carrier, fortunately.

Getting off the shop was a bit of circus, since (despite the fact that we had already been ashore the previous day) we has to clear customs and immigration before we finally disembarked. The process took forever (with a 07.00 hrs start!) but eventually we were in a taxi with one of the other crew member who was heading back to Portugese Goa for some leave and on our way to the airport. Given the time difference, the trip back to Hobart takes all day, but it was uneventful, and Jeannie met us at 9.30.

Farewell to Holland America!
We had one of these towel sculptures every night, but this was the stand-out.