Thursday, 1 Dec: So sorry to see our cruise coming to an end. (We say this every time!)
Our last port will be Geraldton tomorrow and then we will disembark the following morning. So time to start packing and say goodbye to our friends from the UK, Jane and Ian, who will be making their way back home. Love you guys! We have had a lot of fun.
Smooth sailing (as usual) and we have had a very relaxing time. The staff have been fantastic and the food has been amazing. New mattresses and beds also added to our comfort. It’s not easy to get back to reality!
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!
Monday, Nov 21: Today we arrived in Cairns, working our way up the east coast of Queensland. Cairns is a major tourist destination because of its proximity to two World Heritage sites – the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park.
We have both visited Cairns at different times in the past, and travelled on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. I had fond memories of travelling in a steam train up the mountain past gushing waterfalls on a railway which dates to 1891.
This time we discovered that the steam engine had long gone, now replaced by a diesel. All the windows were small and barred which made taking photos difficult, especially as we were sitting in the middle. However, it was still a nice trip through the rainforest, crossing 40 bridges and travelling through 15 tunnels. Unfortunately the dry weather meant that the waterfalls were not as spectacular as we remembered them.
When we arrived at Kuranda, we had time to explore the local market and shops where we hoped to find some local crafts; unfortunately all we found were cheap imports for the most part. So, our souvenir consisted of a couple of postcards showing the scenery that we saw on the way but could not photograph very well. All in all, a bit of disappointing.