Hobart, Tasmania, AUSTRALIA
17 Feb 2007
|The first day of our Christchurch visit we witnessed a marvellous spectacle. Just outside our cabin window on the port side there appeared a flock of birds at about 7.30a.m... They stayed with the ship until night fell when they disappeared as quickly as they arrived.
The flock was made up of ten small birds and a large albatross. The small birds had swept wings with dark brown backs and white undersides. They flew alongside the ship just above the waves and just above the forward speed of the vessel.
Amazingly they did not seem to flap their wings. We were in the middle of the Tasman Sea. How do such fragile and delicate creatures exist in such a hostile and remote environment and more over seem to rejoice in being alive?
The Albatross seemed to circle overhead keeping watch over the smaller birds. We were later told the small birds may have been "Suttee Shearwaters" and that they did not need to flap their wings since they utilised the updraft of the Pacific waves.
According to Ismail our Asst. Maitre D', Dolphins also utilise the energy of the waves to catapult themselves out of the water when showing off to passengers.
In the name of God how fortunate are we to see such things!!
Yesterday we received a handwritten letter from the Cunard president thanking us for expressing our gratitude for the service given to us by Ismail and his team. She confirmed she had passed on our comments to those involved and this was evident from the reception we got from the waiters that night. Apparently the letter of gratitude had been posted on all the staff notice boards throughout the ship. In addition I received a hand written note from the Chief Engineer, inviting me to chat with him over a beer for a couple of hours about engineering strategy on board ship. He added a cautionary note he was not allowed to divulge anything confidential.
Are we having a great time or what?!!!
The chat with the chief engineer developed from a mere discussion into a full blown visit of all ships facilities. I have realised my dream---- Flight deck on Concorde and the engine room of the QE2. If my Dad could see me now! [Walt next door was dead jealous}
When we docked in Hobart, Sam and Paula had been up early and were waiting their turn to be processed by Australia's immigration officials who came on board. The immigration officers arrived late which allowed all four of us to disembark together and begin our adventure like old characters out of "Last of the Summer Wine". We love them both for their gentleness and courage. In spite of Paula's reaction to her chemotherapy treatment she just holds on to our arms and soldiers on.
By now it should be plain to see by anyone who reads my journal that among other things I have learned on this journey that there is a God.
As the four of us walked slowly along the dock side I noticed a plaque with Lord Byron's words taken from "the prophecy of Dante, cte 4.
"An exile, saddest of all prisoners, who has the whole world for a dungeon strong, seas, mountains and horizons verge for bars"
There could not be a Better description for the genesis of Tasmania. Hobart is Australia's second oldest and most southerly city and was founded in 1804. It was cited at the north of the river Derwent near the sheltered natural harbour. They discovered later it was one of the world's deepest natural harbours. The city's architecture is a blend of modern and historic 19th century styles. Fewer than 200000 Tassies live in Hobart. Having sat in the park we visited Cascale brewery [Australia's oldest] Anglesea Barracks, built in 1811 and finally the royal Tasmanian botanical gardens where Sam could satiate his appetite for gardening.
By lunch time the temperature had risen to 90 degrees F and we took lunch in the famous Henry Jones hotel which had been a jam factory where at twelve years old Henry used to stick lables on jam jars. He is now a billionaire with interests in steel, mining and shipping. The hotel was situated in Hunter street with glorious views over the harbour. In addition to serving food it had an amazing display of paintings which could be bought at prices of circa 50000 dollars.
Salamanca Place is a series of 1830 converted warehouises, piers and restored shops, galleries, restaurants and night spots.
The outdoor market had at least 200 stalls and the flower and vegatable stalls made for an amazing blaze of colour on the bright summers day. We all bought presents for family and friends and these included items made of a range of Tasmanian woods from over seven different trees.
One particular gallery located on Victoria Dock was an alladins cave of aborginal art. Sam and Paula bought a couple of pieces and arranged to have them shipped back home to San Diego since they were flying home from Sydney in a couple of weeks time.
One of the fondest memories we will take home will be the friendliness of the local Australians. Paula said that she wasn't feeling well so we returned to the safety and refuge of the ship mid afternoon.
When we returned to our cabin our daily post informed us that our trip to Colombo in Sri Lanka had been cancelled due to political unrest. We were especially dissappointed at the news since this would have involved a journey on the old Vice Roy steam train to an orphaned elephant rescue centre.
[Walter Mitty next door said he was doubly disappointed since this had caused him to cancel a clandestine meeting with the Tamil Tigers?].
In this context Lesley and I talk frequently about how we feel about the ship. The ship has become our second home and our refuge from some of the countries we visit. It is the miracle of engineering which brings the world to us and allows us to meet in betwen adventures.
We are now almost half way through our journey around the world and I want to say few words about my journal and its style.
A couple of people have said they are forwarding my journal to some of their friends. Not sure whether this is for its entertainment value or educational content. Non-the-less this is fine.
The words describe how I feel about what I see. Another thing I have learned is that feeling is as important as seeing. My style is my own as is my life.
Please feel free to read my journal with this in mind. As I close my journal for the night, I am thinking we are going to miss Sam and Paula when they leave in Sydney but that we are going to meet Beth and Eden who we have not seen in so many long years.