Our last day in Sydney was more walking around — it is a very walkable city with so many parks, water views, and pedestrian streets. We don’t usually “do” observation towers but the Sydney Tower Eye was really worth it to gain an appreciation for the parks and all the waterways. From there we walked to the Opera House although sadly we could not get a tour. We walked along the water front which had cushioned seats as part of the break wall, lots of restaurants and wine bars all along it. Again, a great people city.
We did not see many homeless nor overweight locals, a big change from both North America and the UK.
The QM2 moved to the dock just after midnight on Sunday and we disembarked shortly after 7am.
We had a fabulous day with friends who live here. They picked us up at 10am, drove us around (in their Tesla!) to some great sights, through the lovely town of Manly to the outer headlands where we passed through on the ship. Sydney Harbour is the largest natural harbour in the world with several arms and small bays—the amount of coastline is vast.
After that they took us to their home for lunch. Interestingly it is very near Canada Bay where 58 convicts were sent after the 1837 Rebellions. They live a 5 minute walk from their yacht club and a 10 minute walk the the ferry station where one can catch a ferry into the city. It is so nice to spend time with locals, these are places we we never would have seen on our own.
We arrived in Sydney harbour early Saturday morning and got up at 5:45am to go to an observation area for the arrival. Seems a lot of other people had the same idea, the captain had made an announcement about being on deck to see the ship arrive. By the time we got to to observation area the rail was full but we managed to squeeze ourselves in to take a few pictures, they are in an earlier post. It’s a gorgeous harbour with the iconic Sydney Opera House .
Here are a few pictures of our arrival in Sydney harbour this past Saturday morning. They were taken between 6 & 6:30am from an observation area on deck 11.
Once the ship anchored we went ashore on a large tender that dropped us off near the Opera House. There is large park/botanical garden in that harbour (Sydney is full of harbours) with lots of great walkways. It was a hot sunny day and we were sweaty and beat by the time we chose a place to have lunch in the historic ‘The Rocks’ area in a very old pub, lunch was good !.
Our final night on QM2, cocktails and a final stroll on deck after dinner. You can sort of see the lovely Sydney Opera House over Bob’s left shoulder.
There was another medical evacuation yesterday morning. The ship was heading east and then changed course, presumably to make it easier for the helicopter to reach us. Interesting track ! Once the pick up was done we stayed closer to shore as we headed south.
We had a lovely day in Brisbase (sort of) on March 8. Bob has kept in touch with an Australian couple he met at KYC, probably in 2015. They were touring North America in a camper van in order to visit the Catalina factory in Tampa to make final arrangements for their purchase of a Catalina 355. They also wanted to visit other North American Catalina 355 owners, hence the visit to KYC and Finnish Line. Kel and Lois live north of Brisbane so they picked us up and took us on a drive in the older area of Brisbane, south of the Brisbane river, so we didn’t make it to downtown Brisbane, although we’ve heard it’s an interesting fast growing city with a mix of new and colonial buildings.
Parts of the area we toured reminded us of Toronto’s Beach area. Much of the housing is from the 1920’s We then had lunch at a lovely restaurant beside a large marina in Manly. While eating we saw many sailboats heading out, Lois said many clubs have Wednesday afternoon races.
G‘Day. We finally made it to Australia. Travelling here by ship really shows just how far away it is. And we’re still not at our destination, Sydney, at the other side of the country which leaves another 6 sea days to get there.
We arrived yesterday in Darwin and did a short tour which included a very interesting local museum and a fine botanical gardens. Along the way we saw wallabies and magpie geese which apparently taste good.
Darwin is about the size of Kingston about 130,000 but very more modern. In late 1974 it was 80% flattened by Cyclone Tracy with sustained winds of 175k and gusts to 217k. 71 people were killed. The local museum had a very good display about Cyclone Tracy.
The museum also had a large display of boats including some that had been used by asylum seekers from SE Asia. Darwin was the only Australian city bombed during WW II. Interesting it was bombed by the same Japanese fleet that had bombed Pearl Harbor 2 months before, although more bombs were dropped on Darwin.
Today we ventured back into town to get a sim card for our travel phone (soooooooooooooooo much cheaper than Canada!), see the North Territory legislature and have lunch. The legislature is a modern building (1990s) but very attractive with clean lines and a minimalist feel.
Yesterday and today the winds have been mid-twenties to high thirties in knots. The high winds here are even being commented on by the locals. As the winds are blowing against the starboard side (we are tied up starboard to) there is a hefty tug amidships on the port side pushing the ship against the dock. That’s gotta cost a pretty penny.
Arrived off Bali just before 8am this morning and dropped anchor. The tenders were made ready to lower, however, shortly after the captain made an announcement regarding going ashore. The ship had experienced 40kt winds coming in and while they had died down somewhat there are SE swells (off our port quarter) that make lowering the tenders problematic. Therefore all shore excursions have been cancelled. We are expecting Australian customs officers to board this morning and the ship will weigh anchor at noon to begin our passage to Darwin, Australia, arriving early March 2nd.
The big white cat pictured below lost one of its stern fenders and it took the crew member almost 20 mins to retrieve it with a boat hook. In my experience, Wilma Cohrs would’ve had that puppy up in minutes—she has real experience retrieving Finnish Line 2.0’s errant fenders!
Well Singapore again! No tours for us just some shopping and sight seeing. But first, by now, the infamous Singapore Customs and Immigration which went well leaving the ship given our previous experience here last week. By shopping I mean a trip to a drug store for cold remedies 😱 and then it was off to the Marina Sands Hotel viewing roof. Although a grey day it still yielded beautiful 360 views of Singapore. We had hoped to have a drink and perhaps lunch but the bar doesn’t open until 5pm (oh the horror) so it was back to the ship for us. One must clear Customs and Immigration to get back on the ship. This took over an hour and was chaotic to say the least. That evening the 930 passengers doing the entire world voyage were treated to a banquet ashore by Cunard at the beautiful Gardens by the Bay. Unfortunately, guests were kept waiting 2 1/2 hours by Singapore Customs and Immigration! Many, many passesengers have said they won’t come back and one wonders if Cunard will consider not stopping here in the future.
As per previous posts, Singapore is a beautiful treed city with little pollution or traffic congestion. It boasts the #1 education system in the world, 80% home ownership and the best airport in the world. The streets are clean and there are almost no overweight people. Of course, this success comes at a cost. The fines for littering are high and the cost of smuggling drugs is your life. The autocratic gov’t has tight controls over protests and the opposition—although there are several parties only one has held office since the country’s independence in the 60s. One citizen was arrested and jailed for being a protest of one as he held up a cardboard sign with a smiley face on it.