A Travellerspoint blog

Australia

Our Long Journey Home

Saturday, 12 April 2014


View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

This entry summarises the last three days and is the last of the blog for this outing.

Thursday, 10 April was 'check-out' time at our lovely hotel. We paid our bill at about 11:00 and took a taxi to Terminal 2 at Changi Airport. On the way out we were reminded again of how clean and well maintained the city is. Clipped lawns and colourful gardens lined both the sides and the median strip of the highway.

After checking our main baggage we spent some hours exploring both our departure terminal and Terminal 3 where we visited the Butterfly World display.

Found a place to eat and then sat waiting for the Departure Gate Lounge to open. The size of this Terminal, the number of Departure lounges and the distances between the main concourse and the furthermost gate are quite staggering. From one extreme to another is posted at over 45 minutes on the direction boards.

Our flight to Kuala Lumpur departed on time at 19:15 and was fully occupied for the 50 minute flight. At KL we had a three hour wait for our flight to Sydney. The airport is not as grand as Singapore's Changi but is nevertheless impressive. We spent most of the time watching the people wandering back and forth.

Friday, 11 April started with a midnight departure from KL for the long flight to Sydney. Our section of the cabin was scarcely half full and many passengers were able to lay down across two or three seats. I dozed off from time to time while Jenny kept an eye on the GPS display. By the time we arrived in Sydney at 09:00 we were both delighted to be able to stretch our legs. The process of collecting luggage, Immigration and Customs and Quarantine were painless and quite efficient. With nothing to declare we were whisked through without any delay.

We found the Murray's Coach stand in plenty of time for the 11:15 departure and precisely on time we were off on the three and a half hour trip to Canberra. Arrived as scheduled at 14:30 and met up with Natalie for our transfer to our car in Queanbeyan. A short stop for a chat and a coffee and we left just after 16:00.

The drive down the Kings Highway was uneventful until we started the decent down the Clyde. At this most tricky part of the trip we were hit by a most impressive rain storm. Traffic sensibly slowed down and the rain eased off about the time we reached Nelligen. Called in at Batemans Bay for a comfort stop and some essential groceries. We arrived home rather whacked at about 19:15 and after a quick snack we hit the cot.

Saturday, 12 April saw us sleep in until about 08:00. There was a small pile of mail to read and process and I caught up with my emails. A quick visit with the 'old bloke down the road' and met our new neighbour. Lunch and spent most of the afternoon updating the computers and catching up with this blog and the photos taken at Changi.

The latest images are at my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-10, at http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-11 and http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-12.

Thanks for following this tale and will let you know when we take off again.

Cheers and goodbye ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 00:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Port of Darwin

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

The sunrise met all expectations this morning, starting with hints of splendour to come and finally a classic sunrise captured from the stern of the ship. There was lots of interesting craft dotted about the harbour as we approached our berth. By 09:30 we were secured and soon afterwards we proceeded ashore it was already getting hot.

We walked into town and visited a number of shops with one in particular catching Jenny's eye. She decide not to buy a lovely skirt with peacock feather images embroidered on it. About an hour later she decided she'd like to take another look at it. Only one problem, neither of us remembered where the shop was. Yes we found it and she bought it and even better it fits without modification.

We made our way back to the ship by about noon and were very thankful of the air-conditioned comfort of the ship's interior. We delighted the lady that cleans our cabin when we presented her with a small Kangaroo, I guess it is true that it is the thought that counts. After lunch we sent the girls an SMS text as it was to be our last contact within Australia.

We made our way to the Cabaret Lounge for the Afternoon Movie "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire". There were only about a dozen of us there when it started and after the first 10 minutes there were lucky to be five left. I left and spent time in the Buffet drinking copious amounts of iced lemonade, it was so hot and humid !!

Another great dinner and then off to the evening show. There had been a change of guest entertainers in Darwin and the new ones had not had a chance to rehearse so one of the regular musicians "Sammy Goldstein" made a staring performance. Great piano playing, mediocre voice and occasionally funny jokes. As an all-round package he war a great showman and it was a lot of fun.

Back to the cabin to write up this epistle and sort through the 100+ images of today. I also took time to reflect on how much we are enjoying this ship, the crew is fantastic and because we are few in number there appears to be more opportunities to interact. The same applies to our fellow passengers, most of whom we've seen and many we've seen and briefly exchanged greetings. We will certainly take every future opportunity to sail on this or the sister ship again.

Clocks go back another 30 minutes tonight as we sail off to the first of two days at sea on our way to the Komodo Islands.

More of this boring drivel tomorrow and you can always follow this link which should take you to today's image on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-25
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 06:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Westward to Darwin

Monday, 24 March 2014

A warm, moist air caused the lens of the camera to mist up again. I should be used to it by now but every morning I'm confronted by the same problem. I might have to try going outside at least 30 minutes earlier to allow the camera to adjust to the prevailing conditions. Despite a fogged up lens I managed to catch a reasonable sunrise.

Today's routine followed our usual pattern, breakfast, Tai Chi for Jenny and lectures for me with a bit of a chat and some chapters of the current book. before you know it there it is Lunch Time !!

Managed to catch most Lesa Moore's lecture but due to the effect of lunch and an early morning, I think I missed quite a bit of what she had to say. Went back to the cabin and had a proper siesta !! Great dinner again and stuck my head out on deck to see the sky lit by the setting sun. I hurried back to the cabin for the camera and climbed up to Deck 9 where the lovely ladies of the Lotus Spa allowed me to access the only place on the ship that permits an unobstructed view of the bow. Shot off some spectacular sunset shots, slightly marred by condensation on the lens again.

Back downstairs to the Cabaret Lounge for Diane Cousins' final show. If anything, she was even better than her original show. What a voice and what a very funny lady. The members of the band were having a hard time holding it together.

Clocks go back 30 minutes tonight to adjust to Darwin time. I'll try to upload this lot tonight but it is getting late.

This link should take you to today's image on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-24
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:23 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Rounding Cape York

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Another tropical morning starting with an interesting sunrise and a stiff walk around the jogging track. Enjoyed a breakfast on the Aft Deck and then visited the Internet Café to upload blogs and images from the past two days. Jenny went off for Tai Chi and I read the Kindle until the Lecture by Peter Headley about the Gold Rush in the eighteen fifties.

Went out on deck to watch the ship sail past the islands that lead us into the Arafura Sea. The sun was scorching with a totally clear sky and yet there were people 'sun bathing', they must not have heard the message regarding skin cancers. Had our lunch before heading to the Cabaret Lounge for the lecture on identifying the stars and other objects in the sky. Lesa Moore presented a bewildering array of sky-charts and impressive photography of the night sky.

The Afternoon Matinée featured another excellent movie, "Nebraska". Shot entirely in B&W it told as poignant story with some great characters and frequent humour. There was just enough time to get changed before dinner. Italian Night tonight all the waiters dressed in red or green striped tops looking like either escaped prisoners or Italian Gondoliers :-) The Italian themed Menu was excellent and culminated in my favourite desert - .
Tonight's entertainment was a second performance from "Livewire" playing different songs to their show last Tuesday. I felt the volume of sound from the instruments and the band drowned out their voices making impossible to hear the lyrics.

Back to the cabin to finish writhing this note and then it is off to sleep. Sunrise tomorrow is scheduled for 07:18, quite late. The sunrise should be on the stern as we continue Westward towards Darwin.

This link should take you to today's image on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-23
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 05:22 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Sailing North through the Barrier Reef

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Woke this morning to a clear sky overhead but with significant storm clouds on the horizon. At least it wasn't raining. Walked the track on Deck 10 for just under an hour before joining Jenny for breakfast after which we found somewhere to read our Kindles.

About 09:00 I went out on the Port Deck expecting to have the sun behind me. Imagine my surprise to find the sun shining in from the stern quarter. At that time of the day the sun should be in the North East. As we were heading North the sun should be on the Starboard bow. It looked as if we were heading South !! Very perplexing.

I attended the Port Lecture for Darwin and afterwards a 'Technology Workshop' where the IT Manager attempted to explain the different features of the Android and Apple based phones and tablets. His strong accent didn't help his presentation and it was so basic even Jenny felt it was a bit demeaning.

Off to lunch where I was lucky enough to find the Captain. I aired my frustration in trying to explain my observations on deck at 09:00. Simple explanation - we had sailed outside the Reef overnight and early morning and I happened to be looking out while she was re-entering the reef and briefly sailed South. He was amused by my dilemma.

Lunch featured Japanese Sushi and I enjoyed the tuna and salmon. After lunch we attended the lecture in the Cabaret Lounge where Peter Headley presented a history and evidence of Portuguese visits to Australia around 1520 more than 200 years before Cook. Following his talk we stayed for the Academy Awarded movie "Dallas Buyers Club". Quite a story and a compelling performance by the lead actor. Certainly filled in the afternoon.

We'd spent almost the whole afternoon in the Lounge and totally forgot that there was another lecture. Titled "Life of a Barrier Reef Pilot" by the on-board pilot Warwick Conlin. We're sorry we missed it but that's how it goes. Off to dinner and most enjoyable it was too. Then tonight's show with Danny McMaster. He'd impressed us so much a few days ago but tonight's offering lacked some of the original sparkle. Hard to do two 'different' shows just a day or so apart.

It was well past our 'go to bed' time when we joined about 50 others for for a Stargazing session on Deck 11 with Lesa Moore. At 22:00 the light on the forward part of the ship were turned off so that we were able to clearly see the stars. Very well presented with great participation from the crew.

Too late to upload this tonight will do it after breakfast.

This link should take you to today's image on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-03-22
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 14:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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