Friday, Dec 2: This morning we awoke to find ourselves in Geraldton, WA. That’s what I love about cruising – unpack once and we get to call a floating 5-star hotel “home”, with ever changing views!
This was our only tender port, so we had to get a ticket and wait our turn for the tender boat. It only took about 15 minutes to reach the shore. So off we went for a look around town. Little did I know that the day would not go according to plan.
Perched on a pristine coastline, Geraldton boasts gorgeous beaches, a thriving multicultural and Aboriginal community, a friendly country vibe and impressive cultural and architectural heritage. Added to all that, it is only a 4-1/2 hour drive from Perth. Unlike our previous visit, we were very impressed with the number of volunteers who met the ship and welcomed us.
Dome of Souls
The waiting woman
Symbolic grave marker
We decided to visit the HMAS Sydney II Memorial again and this time there were volunteers there to explain how the dome-shaped memorial stands in remembrance of the tragic sinking of this vessel in November 1941 after an encounter with the German raider Kormoran. The 645 metal seagulls represent the fallen crew. Interestingly, on 16 March 2008 the final resting place of the ship and her crew was located 112 nautical miles off Steep Point, the most westerly point of the Western Australian coastline.
We also visited the ornate St Francis Cathedral, designed in 1915 which took 23 years to complete. It is made from local Geraldton stone and quite impressive on the inside.
On the way back to the tender in the afternoon I had an unexpectedly close encounter with the boardwalk. I think that deserves a post of its own!
Yes ….. the fall. Wish I was talking about autumn leaves gently falling to the ground, but here in Australia we have just come into summer. Sooo, what I am referring to is the fall of fruit from a huge fig tree that I walked underneath, resulting in “the fall” (non too gently) by myself on the last day of our cruise in Geraldton, Western Australia.
One moment I was walking along the boardwalk admiring the view. Then, without any warning, my ankle must have given way when I stepped on the fruit. I coouldn’t stop myself falling and just watched helplessly as I tipped forward and my gaze went from the ocean down to the grass and lastly a disturbingly close observation of the path.
Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt much and I was immediately up and walking and we made our way back to the tender boat and then to the ship, even stopping to look at a market and taking some photos on the way. I thought I was lucky to only have two minor scrapes on my right knee.
Little did I realise that within two hours my knee would swell and stiffen and despite the ice pack I could not put my weight on it. I needed a wheelchair to get to the ship’s doctor, who applied a bandage and advised me to go to Perth hospital the next morning. An X-Ray showed a fractured knee cap.
I don’t think an operation is required, but I expect to be hopping around on one leg for a month or so!
We had to fly directly home and didn’t get to do the second leg of our vacation, which was to spend some time in Perth and Dunsborough and return on the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney. We’ll do that next September (in reverse!)
So now I can spend some leisure hours filling out the travel insurance claim!
Tuesday, Nov 29: This morning we arrived in the very remote town of Broome – home to the pearl farming industry. Weather was hot and humid. Like most parts of Australia’s tropics, Broome has two seasons, a dry season that runs from April through November and a wet season starting about now.
There is no actual cruise terminal, so everyone was taken from the ship via free bus shuttles to the town which was located a few kilometres away.
It is a compact little town, discovered in 1688, with a lot of history going back to 1861 with the discovery of pearl oysters. Chinatown is the name of the main shopping area. Once it was noodle houses, opium dens and boarding houses. These days, food, fashion and expensive jewellery shops. The Sun Pictures – the oldest operating outdoor picture theatre gardens in the world. Quirky buildings and story boards giving the history of the town and the many nationalities who came here in search of the pearl.
The local people were very friendly and welcoming and we learnt all about how pearls are formed and the sad history of the hundreds of Japanese divers who drowned and the aboriginal women who were captured and sold and forced into diving, some even when pregnant. This town has quite a history!
Monday, Nov 28: In the early hours of this morning we arrived in Prince Frederick Harbour and the shipped stopped so that we could hopefully capture the sunrise against the ruggedly beautiful Kimberley Coast in Western Australia.
We set a wakeup call for 5.00am and it was nice to be up early. We have been very lazy up to this point. With a coffee in hand we waited in the dark with a warm breeze blowing as the sky slowly became lighter and the ship pulled in quite close to the land. Because of the cloud cover we couldn’t see the sun’s rays but nevertheless the sky looked very pretty and the sun reflected off the cliffs.
Saturday, Nov 26: Darwin Is one of Australia’s northernmost cities, the capital of the Northern Territory – and very humid today, as we made our way into town. Last time we were here we did a lot of walking, but the heat hit us as we left the air con behind and we decided to get on the shuttle bus instead.
We have both been to Darwin numerous times, so we just had a stroll around the shopping mall and had our usual glass of Top End beer.
After we purchased our shuttle bus tickets, we discovered a “hop on hop off” bus which would have taken us to two museums and an art gallery that we haven’t seen yet.
We will no doubt be back in the future, so that will be something new to do next time!