I’m sure you’re wondering where on earth I’ve been, or, more to the point, what I’ve been doing……. It’s been a hectic week since I last sat down and wrote; a combination of cancelled ports, a Social ‘whirl’ and some weather thrown into the mix too.
Having departed from Sydney, we intended to make our way north to Mooloolaba. This lies on the coast, just north of Brisbane and was going to be an anchorage and tender port. I write ‘was going’ because we never made it. Moving north, paralleling the Eastern Australia coastline, we moved into the influence of a weather front sweeping east from over the mainland and another influence from a Tropical Cyclone, quaintly named “Titania”. Whilst ‘she’ was not going to affect us directly, the swell emanating from her centre did and this combination, with high winds and a steep swell resulted in us ‘going up and down’ in a force-7 gale. There was no way we were going to Mooloolaba in these conditions and my days were spent trying to find an alternative port of call. Brisbane was initially considered, however the port costs, (some of the highest in the world, for some reason), were prohibitive, so that wasn’t feasible. Then I had to find somewhere unaffected by the weather, so that had to be further north.
All sorts of places were considered, mainly on the Great Barrier Reef, where there are some lovely Holiday islands with good facilities. All of them came to naught, other cruise ships there, no shore tenders, no Authority presence, (to clear us), the list went on and on; besides, the weather wasn’t going to be much better there anyway, overcast skies and windy. Eventually, a port we have never called at came to the fore, Townsville in Queensland. Emails flew (120 of them 😯 ), phone calls (numerous), however eventually the beckoned us with open arms, “please, please, please come in and spend your day with us, we would LOVE you to dock”. It’s a ‘working’ port, General Cargo, Bulk carriers, container ships and Livestock, (export of sheep and cattle). Unfortunately, their ‘dedicated’ cruise terminal was occupied, by a Livestock carrier and so we were assigned the ‘Sugar’ berth, hey, any berth would be acceptable to me….
So, having left Sydney on the 11th, we spent the 12th, 13th and 14th at sea and made for Townsville on the 15th.
While all this was going on, we had our VIP group with us, Arnold Donald, President & CEO Carnival Corporation; Stein Kruse, CEO HAL Group; and Orlando Ashford, President HAL. They were on board for ‘Guest Appreciation’ events and of course, their respective wives/family were already doing the full cruise with us. We were therefore involved in social events, presentations and last, but certainly not least, dinners and lunches; I was eating my way up the Australian coast 🙄 I will include some of the week’s photos here and then move on to our ports of call.
The 15th broke with a lovely sunrise and beautiful weather.
Ahead of us, on our approach to the pilot boarding ground, was ‘Magnetic’ Island, so named by Captain James Cook when he brought the “Endevour” into the bay in 1770; he actually called it “Magnetical” Island. He claims his compasses went haywire and presumed that the island was the cause, however no-one has been able to reproduce it since. It is now a holiday resort island and was to be our destination later in the day.
On a hot, muggy day we jumped into a taxi, which took us to the ferry berth and our transport to the island. A 20-minute ride and we arrived in Nelly Bay terminal where the #250 bus was waiting to take us around the island. We headed for Horseshoe Bay on the north side of the island.
Having departed, we sailed for the city of Cairns the next day. Another long, marked channel to transit before reaching the berth.
A car takes us to Karunda, about 30 minutes drive away and a cable-car ride over the Rain forest. Now an ecological park, Karunda was originally where bauxite was mined. A track was hacked out of the jungle and a railway transported the ore back to the port. Now the railway transports passengers.
The railway station and train looked like something out of ‘Harry Potter’, I felt as if that all I had to do was walk through a wall and find myself in Hogwarts school 🙂
Very Victorian, with beautiful hanging baskets of flowers.
An Aborigine gentleman played his didgeridoo for passers-by.
Finally, on our way back to Cairns, a stop for a picturesque view over Cairns and hinterland and a stop on the esplanade before returning to the ship.