Saturday, 22 of June of 2024

2008 Farewell World Cruise – Part 3

Part 3 – Auckland to Fremantle

Thursday, 21 February, Auckland, New Zealand  36˚50’ S.  x  174˚45.9’ E

I was on deck in time to see the final docking process in the early morning light of seven o’clock.  There was a small group of Maoris chanting and then poi ball dancing.
My tour was a delightful walk around the historical parts of Parnell, a surprisingly well- preserved near “suburb” of Auckland.  The highlight including a HUGE Pehukawa tree, the rose garden, Nancy Steen Garden of all plants and bushes brought from England, Oak trees, Judge’s Bay, Hobson Bay, St. Stephen’s Chapel (1857) made of Kauri wood – designed and built by Benjamin Strange, – Ewelme Cottage (where we heard about boys (his sons) who lived here while attending the nearby school.  We had tea and coffee at the Kiner House (Headmaster) of Parnell Grammar School.  We finished up at the magnificent St. Mary’s wooden cathedral, which was moved from across the street; also the new cathedral, which reminds me of Coventry Cathedral.

After walking down the famous Parnell Street, we were delivered back to the ship.  I ate lunch with Frank and Marie, then set out again to wander.  I checked the souvenir shop on Queen’s road, then spent two to three hours hanging out at the Maritime Museum and harbour.  Most intriguing was a 100 foot or more mega sailing yacht, which lingered in the near harbor testing various things such as the bow thrusters, and the main sail, which appeared to be jammed and wouldn’t unroll from the boom.  Eventually they managed to get it up.  Mind you, this shakedown took a very long time.  I quipped to some bystanders that if a boat could be a “poseur” this was a “hell of a poseur!”  Got laughs!

Around four o’clock I headed for “home.”  We had to show our ID card as well as passports!  I see I missed a Maori show at four.

All but the Boultons were at dinner.  I sat with the Lees during the acrobat show and whiz-bang violinist, then changed into warm clothes for the departure.  I stood on Port side to film the crowds on shore and to get the whistle sequences on sound!  WOW!  The whistle blew three very long sequences as we were pulled backwards and away from the dock.  A more woeful sound I have not heard and emotion welled up in me each time the long, pulsating sounds issued forth.  When we were turned 90˚ we started forward and a tug did very vigorous “wheelies” for us – and we were on our way.  I watched forward as we carefully snaked between the green lights on port and red on starboard, doing a significant turn to port and drew an “S” shape past Rangytoto volcano and mountain on starboard and left the lights of Auckland astern.  For a long time the Pilot boat tried to keep pace with us, bouncing mercilessly as we faced into the growing waves and raised sidewise wake against the boat.  Finally the boat peeled away, but I didn’t actually see the transfer of the pilot.  I returned to the cabin after eleven.  What a fantastic day!  Clocks back one hour.

Full moon lit up the ship’s way brilliantly (when the clouds didn’t interfere.)  I put the water tray on the deck after being awakened around two o’clock by a bang sound and jolt.

Friday, 22 February: Tasman Sea

There is definitely action going on out there!  We are heading 304˚ – which is northwest and being buffeted by large swells from the northeast, thus causing lots of spray and water to pass by my porthole.  Occasionally a large swell will smash into our starboard bow and sends spray (thick) across the bow and obscures vision on the bridge cam.  QE2 then transmits the shock along the hull.  I spied a dauntless bird, which flew across our bow and tried to keep ahead of us.

At 7:55 Captain McNaught came on the Tannoy with his warnings about the storm and rough weather we are experiencing.  He described the rough seas and heavy swells as we are about to alter course due West.  We will have these conditions most of the day and Boat Deck is closed to access!  Maintain the rule of “one hand for yourselves and one for the ship.”  Course: 269˚  33˚53.0’S by 172˚33.7’ E:   24.2 Knots     “Be thankful you are on a proper ship,” says he!  Here Here!!!

When it was announced there was no waiting at Australia immigration, many of us emerged and nearly raced each other up the stairs to beat each other out!  I was through in ten minutes at most, so headed for breakfast, where I sat with Beth, who will disembark on 25th February.   I cashed $200 for Australian dollars from the machine (200 AD) I got 25 cents back and the commission cost $3.00.   Then I sent emails to the CSRRs in Sydney about wanting to attend church on Sunday.

Dr. Crimes’ lecture on Sydney and the next one of Clint Eastwood’s work ensued.

Noon Report:  Low pressure system will improve.  33˚52.8’ S by 170˚41.8’ E: Course: Rhumb Line 270˚, Speed: 24.5Knots, rain 70˚ F = 21˚ C; Northeast wind Force 7-8 or 35 Knots  40 knots over the deck.  Rough seas, moderate easterly swell.  It definitely has tamed a bit.

Elizabeth and I paired up for lunch, where we shared our yesterday’s experiences.  She has crewed on the “Spirit of New Zealand.”  I spent the afternoon in my cabin knitting and napping as the waves continued to buffet the ship.  Dinner all together, followed by   Baked Alaska parade.   Davidia – mezzo – variety of styles and accomplished.  Gift number two arrived; a round, red leather jewelry case, with Cunard on the flap and Farewell World Cruise logo on the felt case.

Saturday, 23 February: Tasman Sea

The storm is gone and sunshine flourished till about noon when moist clouds took over.  I had my English muffins, milk and juice with the Lees at 255, sharing steerage stories – with Biggins and my real “Columbia” experience.

The lecture on Errol Flynn was most informative, filling in life anecdotes I never knew.  I then hung around the Grand Lounge to sign up for the Talent Show.  The pianist can’t read the facsimile music for Semele, so we shifted to the Weil-Gershwin song “My Ship,” which I will have to read!

Noon Report:  33˚51.5’ S by 159˚22.9’E:  Rhumb line 270˚  Speed: 23.2 K average 23,8K:  Temp: 24˚ C – 78˚ F  Wind: Southeast at Force 6 = 25K or 40 on deck.  Low seas, low westerly swell.

Elizabeth Beard and I met for lunch at a table for two.  The natural topic was boats and singing.  She relayed observations of an “irate” Bea Muller complaining to a manager.  Betty came along to add her version and I’m glad I wasn’t near to hear the altercation.  We parted and at 2:30 many of us filled the Grand Lounge to hear Capt. McNaught’s very spell-binding interview and answers to people’s questions.  (see my notes).

At 4:50 the Talent Show took place headed by Thomas who announced the acts from Mary Mastony to a song and dance man with me in between somewhere.

I got a reply from the Darlinghurst CS church so will go there tomorrow.  During dinner with all present the seas picked up and it seems like we were slapped pretty hard on port side, thus making the ship shudder.  One time it was so abrupt that dishes and glasses fell off the station nearest us.  I walked down stairwell A holding on with both hands, and upon checking the bow picture it confirmed we are pitching a lot with bow waves splashing over the foc’sle well.  Also since we are headed due west, at 8:20 the sun is just dipping to and below the horizon directly ahead of us.

I returned to the Grand Lounge to see the voice Idol contest.  QE2 Idol – 4 finalists.  Piero and Charlie were best, but not outstanding.  We are supposed to vote, but I left too soon – to see “West Side Story,” I didn’t last.   Clocks back one hour.

Sunday, 24 February, Sydney, Australia: 33˚ 54.8’S x 151˚ 13.5′ E.

When I awoke at 6:20, we were already past the Heads and preparing for backing into the mooring point at Garden Island.  Several sizable yachts and sailboats had accompanied us to this point and were halting while we turned by Fort Denison.  I was on deck for the backing and able to get some good footage of the Bridge, Opera House and “Queen Victoria” before the latter receded behind the peninsulas.

There must have been a lot of salt spray flying in the last 24 hours because all the railings were laden with large salt crystals – everywhere!  As we approached, we could see four or five men clad in summer white Bermuda length uniforms and blue caps standing in a line at each bollard where ship lines would be thrown.  Navy discipline I expect!  The gangway will be on 4 Deck at G Stairway.  Tugs names:  Wombi, Wonna and Wolly!

I skipped breakfast so I could head out on the first shuttle bus, which took us to the back of the Sheraton on the Park at Castlereigh Street.  I alighted and headed three blocks by Hyde Park to Liverpool Street, whence I started hunting for 252 – the address of the Christian Science church.  I finally found it at the corner of Forbes Street – actually quite near to the ship at Garden Island, Wooloomaloo inlet.  After church the organist played the big Widor Toccata.  Wow!  A couple from the church drove me around a bit before depositing me at the gate.  I walked the wrong way, and had to return and start over.

The re-boarding process was somewhat snagged since we had to go through pretty stiff scrutiny.  My bag went through the detector and since it showed a spoon inside (I certainly didn’t think that would be of concern) and the attendant questioned me about it.  I said it was simply a spoon, and he let me go.

I had lunch in the Mauretania then set out again on the Shuttle bus, which deposited some people at the Circular Quay, so I too alighted and walked to the Opera House via the super-crowded ferry area, to take a photo of “Queen Victoria”– everyone else was doing the same also!  I then walked a long way back to the correct pickup place near Centrepoint.  I sat with Rowena on the way back by a little after three o’clock.  That was plenty of time spent for the day on land.

I had a nap, and when time to anticipate the big maneuver of the two ships, I headed for observation Deck (30 minutes ahead of time), and the place was packed.  When the Captain told us QV would be on our Port all the time, I quickly secured a spot near the stern on Boat Deck, where I was able to film the whole process for thirty minutes straight, including two tugs aft steadying and one tug forward pulling all the way to and around Fort Denison.  All the while “Queen Victoria” backed out of circular quay and worked forward on her own, escorted by a fire tug.  Many of the new passengers, presumably Aussies squealed and cheered loudly every time the whistles sounded.  My camera only registered QV’s whistle alas, because I was too far aft.  Grrr!  Anyway, when QV receded into the outer harbor, she was joined by the hundreds of boats, yachts, ferries etc., and we proceeded past the Opera House and were turned 90˚ and backed into the International Terminal quay.

I went in for dinner at seven o’clock and ate alone with Victoria and Alan in attendance.  They will go out for most of the night, because they aren’t due for work till breakfast.  Back on Boat Deck, I have the prospect of the Harbour Bridge lit up all night.  Special as always!

I re-emerged from my cabin for the local show by the four Kinsmen and synthesizer band.  They were a mixture of fine voices with fine music, and crazy skits such as a number with a Kookaburra, a Kangaroo, a Koala and Emu (reminiscent of Pantomine).  The real rouser was the finale when two guys did a fantastic rendition of Irish dancing à la Riverdance.  They brought down the house twice with this!  Also 3 tenors take-off.

I walked around Boat Deck noting the beautiful city lights on the buildings, Opera House, Ship Terminal, the subdued Rocks and of course, the bridge.  I wanted to linger there on QE2’s last ever night in Sydney Harbour.  A bit of a twinge there!

By the way, the QE2 is here exactly 30 years to the day after her first visit to Sydney, and the Captain said it was fitting that she should be here on her last visit.  In a way, today’s passing of the two ships represents another passing of the mantel from old to new as I witnessed in 2004 after the historic tandem Atlantic crossing at which time the Britannia cup was transferred to the Queen Mary 2 as the new Flag Ship.

I was told that the reason we couldn’t hear the Queen Mary 2 whistle in Sydney last year was because it wasn’t working!  News to me a year late!

Monday, 25 February: Sydney, Australia

After breakfast with Roger and Janet and goodbye to John and Betty, I left the ship for my shopping spree.  First I bought the 2 newspapers that had yesterday’s ship photos, then I headed for Centre Point to visit Jennie Keller at the Reading Room, and buy the stuffing and yarn at Lincraft.  Joan the doll knitter was there too.  I gradually worked my way to the Marriott hotel to wait for Violet Crafton and the Lees.  We had a lovely long talk, mostly about the “Queen Victoria” and Violet’s impressions, all of which convince us we don’t want to go on her!

Back at the ship I relaxed and then headed for my “spot” forward on Starboard.  Chatted with a gent, who knows ships, and we stayed together through the departure right to the last long toot!  We had four tugs to help us away from the quay and especially “Watigan” which pulled away, along with our forward motion while keeping tension and maneuvering itself sideways.  This happened a long way, then eventually it cast off but continued close to us right to our turn toward the Heads.

There weren’t many boats with us this time, but these persisted, tooted occasionally and QE2 issued numerous very long pulsating sets of three along the way.  I do hope I got good sounds on the video, but don’t hold much faith in depth, alas!  We proceeded out the Heads by 7:30 and darkness set in as my last minute of video time ran out.  Again, there were emotional moments for me, but precious memories remain!

Dinner in the Lido with Valeria Noonan, Marguerite and English Shirley!  I briefly listened to the singer and headed downward.  We are heading south in calm and gentle seas – along the high bluffs of seacoast.

Tuesday, 26 February:

QE2 is gently rising and pitching over the swells as we pass the southern point of Australia.  The land recedes westerly at this point.  I am conscious of gentle creaks near my part of the hull, but can’t exactly place the source.  As a matter of fact, occasionally the entire cabin creaks as we gently heave down into a swell and again as we are lift up – again smoothly and gently.

I joined Eric and Margaret for breakfast then bought the Cruise Ship Guide and QM2 commemorative magazine.  I spent time in Grand Lounge reading these books till time for the Crimes lecture on Hobart.  Anne and Tony were in my row, so afterward, we had tea and honey in the Board Room till the noon report.  It is really quite pleasant outside.

Noon Report:  38˚47.5’ S by 149˚ 57.2 E.  Rhumb Line 195˚  Speed: 18.5K  Average 18.8 K.  Temp: 19˚ C 66˚ F.  Wind: SW F3 = 10 Knots – 30 knots over the deck.  Smooth seas, long moderate southwest swells.  The ship was gently pitching all day in these swells, adding to her proud majesty as I watched.

I had lunch with Janet and Roger, then checked my email.  Deck time was quite pleasant but cool.  However, I managed to read my new ship guide comfortably under boat 13 till time for the movie “On the Water Front.”  I read outside from 4:30 to about 5:30.

There are now only six at table 293, and the new person is John Hardie from Melbourne.  He looked familiar to me and it turns out he and I met in the Lido last year talking ships.  The show presented a flutist from Ireland.  Gary Arbuthnaught.  He also played penny whistle.  Back to the cabin to shower and wash my hair before retiring.

Wednesday, 27 February:  Hobart, Tasmania: 42˚ 53’S x 147˚26’E

As we were tying up to the container ship dock, I heard youthful voices by my porthole, and upon peering out I saw the Hobart Children’s Choir.  The gangway was set up at B stairway 4 Deck, so when I was ready to head out I just went around the corner from my cabin.  It being cool, I quickly returned for my jacket and sneakers, then took the shuttle bus to the information center.  Joan and I headed out to find the craft store (for my stuffing), and we eventually took a bus sightseeing together.  Our ID cards were inspected twice as we entered the Container ship port area.

Lunch at the Lido on my own:  Chatted with the Lees by the Library, then back to the cabin, where I remained till I heard bag pipes right outside my porthole.  I then went on deck and remained through the parting with whistle salutes and a small escort fleet of sailboats and a couple of excursion boats.  We sailed through another sailboat race!  After watching the beautiful scenery of hills on each side of the Derwent River and Bay, I left Anne and Tony for dinner with the tablemates; John as well.  The Boultons returned late, but were allowed to order anyway.  The show was a comedy routine and folk-rock singer, Syd Little from Blackpool.  Funny!   I returned to the cabin by 9:30.

Thursdy, 28 February:

After thinking we were sailing west of Tasmania all night, I have been set straight by the Channel 4 readings.  We have been traveling northeast all the time and are just now heading 302˚ (northwest) between Tasmania and various smaller islands into Bass Strait.  We are at 40˚ 50.9’ S, which reminds me we are just shy of the same latitude Cape Cod is North Latitude!  (15 knots).

By the way, yesterday our bus driver said that Hobart Harbor is the 2nd deepest harbor in the world, second only to Rio de Janeiro!  I had breakfast on my own by a window on starboard where I could observe the Furneaux Islands – King, Clark’s and Barien Islands – also Flinders Island.  As I headed aft on Quarter Deck, I sat with Glen Peters and we chatted about our favorite topic – ships.  He says he and Marilyn don’t know what they will do next year either.  He says, the “Queen Victoria” problem of space will be dealt with by modifying beds to have drawers under them.  Hmmm!  How many people will want to bend down each time they want stuff??!!  I told him what I know about the QM2 accident.  He said Warwick has been exonerated!

I dashed to hear the new speaker, Dr. Douglas Sturkey tell of the convicts’ contributions to the growth of Australia (see my notes.)  I sat with Anne and Tony through that and Peter Crimes’ talk on Melbourne.  We three will go into town together and join John and Betty Griffiths for their tour in the afternoon.

Lunch with Roger and Janet.  They were on the “Sun Vista” which burned and sank off the Maylasian coast in Malacca Strait, then we went to the internet to see photos and the accounts.

Movie:  Beowulf.  Back at the cabin I tried designing the “Adieu” for the doll vest, but it wouldn’t work.  Formal dinner with all tablemates.  Soufflé again – heart design done by Victoria.

Friday, 29 February:  Leap Day!  Melbourne, Australia: 37˚ 50.9S x 144˚ 55.8E:

I awoke shortly after six o’clock and QE2 had just been approached by a large tug (the engine noise alerted me).  We then were turned around 180˚ and backed to the long pier on our Portside.

Anne, Tony and I took the 109 Tram into Collins Street, where we alighted to walk through gardens to see the so-called James Cook house re-assembled here from Yorkshire.  We then had fun walking along city streets and tram riding to the old Melbourne Gaol, whence we turned about to stroll along observing old architecture next to modern non-descript buildings.  We found a wonderful Pen City stationery store where I was able to purchase 4 more Parker refills!  Also, I saw countless leather-bound journals and diaries for high prices.  I resisted but it was a challenge!  The register book now has my name and comment, “I could spend all day in here, happily.”  Tony treated us to coffee and a tasty chocolate and nut bar with cherries.  Yum!  We took the 209 back to the ship by 12:30.

I had lunch with Jenny at 205, and she said Bea had another big row with dining staff.

At two o’clock Anne, Tony and I met Betty and John Griffiths who spent all afternoon and evening showing us city sighs, beaches, and their daughter Helen Griffiths who is a music teacher, active mother of two, a musician son who plays saxophone very well, and a daughter who is determined to be an Olympic swimmer.  Helen served us tea and lemon teacake in the back patio, and we two sang Cole Porter songs with the others as audience.  We then were taken back to and through the Port of Williamstown to see QE2 and the city skyline, then we met their other daughter, Pauline, and 4 offspring and multi birds, a lizard and lovely black, friendly Cocker.  We three guests treated Betty and John to Chinese food before returning to the ship just after ten o’clock.  We are due to depart at 11:30 but I will not be on hand.  ——-As we await the departure at 11:50 the starboard large tug is tethered to us, and I can see ahead numerous channel marker lights – green on Port and Red on starboard, blinking in two more or less alternating circuits – a very long distance!

I am reminded that as we drove along the shore near the port, we could see numerous colorful para-sails pulling or driving along surfers at a great rate.  The south wind has been brisk and chilling quite a contrast to what the heat could be at this time of year.  I am grateful we were far from sweltering as last year.

At 12:20 AM we were pulled away from the pier and the three long whistle blasts sounded plus an answer from a tug was heard all through my hull and porthole.  QE2 answered that with the short “boop” and we were on our way headed right down the middle of the straight channel across Phillip Bay.  I really mean straight.  The tug dropped back ten minutes later, shining its bright light into my cabin.  The channel is so straight for so long a distance, those lights come together like railroad tracks in perspective.

Saturday, 1 March:

I arose somewhat reluctantly after seven o’clock, showered and puttered till after nine, when I returned my Passport to G stairway collection point, mailed a letter to Wendy and then spent time with Shirley Warren and Valerie discussing itineraries and ships in the Fred Olsen Cruise catalog Marguerite lent me.

Armed with a bran muffin, I went to the balcony to hear lectures on the Christmas Star, then Crimes’ Adelaide talk.  Anne and Tony were there too.

Noon Report:  38˚41.4’ S by 141˚ 24.2’ E;  Rhumb line 300˚; 21.5 K ; Temp. 16˚c oe 61˚ F.  Southeast wind F4 – 15 knots o- 25 on deck.  Low seas; short, low southeast swell.

Again I joined the Socketts for lunch for more ship talk.  I had two crème caramels. Yum!  Today being St. David’s day, Victoria was all agog and trying to secure a Welsh flag and by dinner time, she had the big one from the Bridge collection, and one from Caronia dining room, which was hung over her station.  The big one covered the long mural!  At dessert time Victoria cut a leek-shape into the soufflé at my request, and three more were cut adeptly.

The afternoon movie was “Dan in Real Life”  – Hohum.  Then in the cabin I knitted while watching “Ned Kelly,” The joker duetists, Katzenjammer, played their virtuoso and occasionally humorous piano duets.  Clocks back a half hour.

Sunday, 2 March:  Adelaide.

I awoke before seven and we were just entering the outer end of the very long jetty, which leads to the long quay “strip” of harbor.  The familiar long avenue of Norfolk pines was silhouetted against the early dawn glow to the East.  “Tarpan” the large tug was majestically keeping pace next to us for a long way right out my porthole.  I could stare at details on the stern deck including the large winch.  By that time we were slowing for the 180˚ turn and the tug pulled away with a line attached.  Actually, 2 tugs pulled our bow and I imagine the same was happening way aft.  Now that we have turned I can see the contour of jetty and dock we passed, and we are proceeding “back” (our forward) to the “terminal” area.  As we passed the jetty at dawn we cold see photo flashes going off, so several people got up early to see us.  A stately group of 8 sailboats in a tidy row and 5 motorboats have assembled to our starboard as we are being gently pushed sideways to our quay facing the outward curve of the long jetty.

When I went topside there was a trio – guitar, accordion and tub strummer, singing Aussie songs, plus blue-shirted “guides” waving flags and swaying to the music.  I walked back and down to the Lido for breakfast.  Warm and sunny forecast.

When the shuttle buses started to go at nine o’clock, I boarded number 2 for the 45-minute trip along the wide Port Avenue lined with those majestic, tall Norfolk Pines.  At one time there was an idea to dig a canal along this expanse so large ships could proceed closer to Adelaide itself, but around that time in the 19th century, trains were replacing canals elsewhere so the tracks won out.  However, they were built elsewhere, leaving the avenue with the wide green landscape we see today.

At old Port Adelaide, a drawbridge takes the road over the river and one can see old boats moored and the delightful red lighthouse of 1869 – and we continued into the city where we got out by Government House.  I walked down to the Torrens River and took a river trip on “Popeye” to the weir, back past the main bridge, to the Zoo and back to the Festival area.  Back up the road I went and across to Rundle Mall, where I strolled up and back, avoiding the crowds and buskers.  By 12:30 I was ready to return “home” and had lunch in Omar’s section.  Jennie stopped to chat and now 2:30 I am settled on Boat Deck facing the land.  Norfolk Pines, low hill ridges in the distance and parkland leading up to the terminal area.  Mount Lofty is also visible.

When time to depart, we were pulled away from the pier and proceeded by the open field and long jetty, where crowds were gathered to wave goodbye and cheer us on, while the whistle hooted its 3 long blasts twice as we joined the sail and motorboat flotilla accompanying us.  I eventually walked aft to see the receding view.  When I spotted Marguerite on Quarter Deck aft, we compared our day’s activities, and when I was ready to leave her, a helicopter flew low around the ship, and we waved vigorously.

Had dinner with all the tablemates of 293, then I headed for the cabin.  Clocks back one half hour.   John’s sir name is Hardie.

The train station end of the line is just opposite where the ship was moored.  To get to it you go outside the single entrance to the dock and cut across the busy road.

Monday, 3 March:

Across the Great Australian Bight – in the Southern Ocean!  We are pitching a little bit over low swells.  I have another invitation to a free wine tasting in the Caronia Restaurant this afternoon, but of course, I will not attend.  The free internet package is the only perk I use in the Diamond category so far.

I had breakfast with Rosina and Eddy.  I expressed my admiration for her fabulous designs and quilts.  Afterward I bought five more video cassettes, then shared Rosina’s album with Margaret Lee.  Then, with a quick look at the boring stuff for sale, I went to Peter Crimes’ lecture on Fremantle and Perth.

Noon Report:  35˚19.1’ by 128˚23’ E;  Rhumb line 272˚: Wind: 27.5 K ; average 27.5 K from the Southeast at Force  – 15 K and 25K on deck.  Light seas, low southwest swell.

Lunch of Caesar salad was happily spent with Janet and Roger, and I headed for boat 12 for a couple of hours reading in moderate warmth and cloudy bright till the 2:30 lecture on Greenhouse Effect – slowly and boringly presented!

I dressed for dinner early for the Ensemble cocktail party, where I sat with Rosemary, Valerie Bennetts and Perle Coles, then went directly to early dinner at six o’clock.  As usual I was alone till after 6:15 when the others arrived, not realizing it was early for the cocktail party with the Captain for those top categories who embarked at Sydney.  After lobster bisque, lamb and crêpes suzettes and the gift of Cunard chocolates from John Hardie plus five chocolate chip cookies, I headed to the cabin to work on the dolls.  It is down to the detail work and I spent several hours on them.  Clocks back one hour.  QE2 is charging along at 26.3 knots and noticeably pitching, but gently.

Tuesday, 4 March: Albany: 35˚2.2’S x 117˚53.8E

At seven o’clock we slowly entered between an island to Port and the mainland with a harbor light to Starboard.  Two tugs awaited us, one spraying its water greeting, “Elgin” by name.  Way ahead it appears we have a small Pilot boat leading the way.  People are lining the rising road in droves and cameras are flashing everywhere!  QE2 is sounding her whistle. I hastened to Boat Deck in time to see the final stages of docking.  One lone piper was playing Scottish songs, and he was later superseded by a school pipe and drum corps.

I took the city tour with historical stops each of which afforded great panoramic views, and we stopped at the ANZAC memorial, then Princess Royal Fort, built in WWI to be prepared for invasion, which never came.  Back in town we saw Dog Rock, Town Hall and main streets, then we quickly entered the oldest cottage in Albany – Taylor Cottage,  brig Amity and Marine Museum.  We returned to the ship and I was the only one to take the afternoon tour.  People joined “my bus” and we set out to see the spectacular rock formations and rolling scrub bush, which reminded me of Truro.  The huge granite rocks were well weather-beaten, affording great climbing and a fabulous deep gap with raging swells crashing into the gap.  Next was a view from above, of a natural granite bridge.  When we walked back to the parking lot a woman had fallen and we had to wait close to an hour for an ambulance etc. causing us to have to return to the ship without seeing the Whaling venue.

I had lunch at 3:00 p.m. with Bill Greenwood.  I shared my new book on Emigrant Ships with him, enjoying the conversation.  I watched the last people to come aboard, including the couple who had the hospital (detour.); the gang way pulled inside the hull, then the Captain announced our immanent departure and soon thereafter we were pulled away from the quay, to the accompaniment of the marvelous three-whistle blasts.  As we proceeded outward, we could see hundreds of people and cars lined up on the highway, along the shore, standing on large stone outcrops, on a point with a ruined stone house and of course, people in boats who waved and cheered as we again tooted thrice.  I went to Starboard to see the islands and peninsula, then went inside.  The win was stronger on Starboard.

At dinner John reported some inside information, namely the decks from 2 up will be the 5-star accommodations and 3,4,5 and 6 will be for workers who had come to build or decorate new buildings.  He got this last night at his cocktail party, and a detailed account of the Kenya crisis, since his source is a person from Kenya who has been intimately acquainted with Captains through the years.  Also, in 1986, when the new diesel-electric system was put in, and the engines didn’t need maintenance, they could have run all 9 of them at once and propelled the ship fast enough to regain the famed “Blue Riband: but when the then Captain proposed it, he got a quick no and comment that he was already using more fuel than he was supposed to.  This was when Trafalgar House was in control.

At present we are moving right along at 28.1 knots due West in order to clear the southwest corner of Australia, Cape Leeuwin.  Most of my evening was spent working on doll number one and watching “To Catch a Thief.”  We passed into the Indian Ocean over night.  Torndirrup National Park.

Wenesday, 5 March: Fremantle: 32˚ 2.95’S x 115˚ 44.5′ E

At seven o’clock we are still charging along at 27.3 knots and dawn is on its way.  We have made a swift and smooth passage around what can be a rough path of current and wind swirls, but not today.  At seven thirty Captain McNaught came on the Tannoy to announce we will be arriving late enough that the Harbor Master has allowed a freighter to enter ahead of us.  He will negotiate later to see if we can depart an hour later this afternoon.  He then quipped that given the same distance, “Queen Victoria” would have arrived around teatime!  (ha ha).  Tours will begin one hour later.  Our Pilot, however, has boarded at 7:30 and the freighter has crossed our bow.  Also a helicopter is circling us!

I went on deck and found a spot forward so I could see our majestic entrance into the glaring forward harbor scene, past the Maritime Museum, which sports an old submarine.  QE2 sounded her three whistle blasts twice in response to the hundreds of spectators waiting on both breakwaters and along the quays.  While she was being turned 180˚ I walked aft to see how close the stern came to the freighters across the channel; then had a quick breakfast while chatting with the Lees in Mauretania.

My tour took me to the streets of Fremantle, across the Swan River, through several suburbs to King’s Park and to the docks for the river cruise.  We stopped right across from the lovely, modern carillon, which chimed at eleven o’clock, while we were boarding the river boat,   We traveled along the banks and the middle of the wide part, then went into various little bays and into the narrow river, past Yacht Clubs, marinas, and fabulous, expensive homes. Before I realized it, we were going under the bridge we crossed on the bus, and were thrilled to pass right by QE2 on the way to the riverboat dock.  We were picked up by our bus and had an hour more of detailed sightseeing, residential areas,  and beaches until we were deposited back at the ship by two o’clock.

I plugged in my camera and went to the Lido for lunch with Carol.  I then set out again to spend my last $30 in town and managed to get a Platypus and a paperback Australian novel.  Back I went on the Shuttle by four o’clock for a rest before the big send off and goodbye at seven.

After showering, I chose a strategic spot on Boat Deck to look over the town in western sunlight and observe the returning daytrippers.  The last ones came aboard late so we were at least ten minutes late casting off.  The people piled up on the pedestrian bridge had long since assembled, and the band toward aft had started playing at five o’clock, not having been told we would leave an hour late.  Nevertheless, they played on to the end.

Finally came the Captain with his usual parting speech, the lines were cast off, we were pulled away from the quay and the whistle sounded long and loud.  As we proceeded forward out of the harbor with our tug and flotilla, more and more crowds of people were revealed lining every walkway, quayside, Maritime Museum lookout (a band was also playing as we passed),  and finally all along the long jetty, people cheered, waved, and honked their horns right up to the tip with a charming lighthouse.  (I imagine the opposite breakwater had the same sized crowd as the morning had been).  Long before we left the breakwater we could see a fire tug escorting us with the hoses pouring forth and also ahead waited the sailboats, motor launch,  jet-ski and various boats of the flotilla, which joined us at our speed.  Several times, of course, we sounded the traditional three long, woeful whistle strains until at last the sun set in our path, and the boats one by one turned back to their moorings.  Everyone agrees this was the best send-off yet.

When I saw John Hardie who was taking photos of the sunset, he said: “For me, it is all down hill from here.”  I agreed with downcast feelings.

Dinner at the Lido was the logical segue, where I sat with Valerie Noonan, Shirley Warren and eventually, Valerie Bennett, who still calls me Marsha (we laugh each time I correct her).  Marguerite and English Shirley came by as well, but ate at a separate table.  On my way out, I sat temporarily with Janet, Roger, Joan and husband, while we shared our day’s activities.

I went directly to my cabin via the Queen’s Room, where I chatted briefly with Christine and Les, my neighbors.  The video footage I took captures the spirit of the departure with yells, whistles, chants, hands waving, musical strains, and especially the sound of multiple wakes of the boats, whistle sequences are as always, a bit shallow, but oh so better than nothing!

So ends our (the ship and my) last sojourn in Australia, the absolutely last big crowd send-off of the 2008 World Cruise.  Obviously, the October runs will be well treated by the Brits, but each farewell is very emotional.  Oh yes, a plane flew a banner, “Fremantle Ports Farewells the QE2.”  It flew around for well over an hour.  A gentleman at the railings ventured to calculate the mounting expense of the hour delay on all parties, participating; time, fuel etc.  It mounts up.

We are now bound northward for three days, past and between numerous islands north and northwest to Singapore.