Saturday, 16 April 2005
The first Walkabout:
The time for reporting back was given as five the next morning so off I trotted free of constraint. The other passengers had preceded me. The security guard gave directions to the railway station which on the map seemed very close but my trotting soon became tromping and then trudging. My day-pack contained both camera and laptop, which was heavy enough for a little bloke. As I walked along the sandy road verge studying the scant tufts of grass, scrubby plants and assorted wind-blown rubbish, I had my first experience of collecting my very own escort of sweat flies. Fortunately there were only a few but even so they kept my fingers doing windscreen duty in front of my eyes. The station seemed a terribly long way so I stuck my thumb out but to no avail. I eventually hailed a passing cyclist for directions and found that I had been hiking towards town on a road just one block parallel to the railway line and was in fact now quite close to a station, but two stops along. And a train was coming down the line so I ran across the tracks and leap onboard - neat timing. Well, I had had a wee adventure anyway. These outer dead-flat suburbs are all new brick house, few tree environments that I would hate to have to live in. Things improve as you get further in. Adelaide houses use stone, brick and timber and sometimes combinations of all three. Passing through what I assume was the old fringe area of the city there were even some corrugated iron clad ones with the sheets used horizontally on the walls. Most houses have surrounding, bull-nose roofed verandahs, some with filigreed metal detail and others with open walls of concrete, brick or stone, with substantial pillars as verandah posts.
The Adelaide Metro service is fantastic. A coin machine dispenses tickets that are then validated in another slot machine. I invested in an all-day pass for $6.40 Aussie. Concessions were available for card carrying pensioners, returned servicemen, students and so on with about a dozen groups listed. The interior was clean, spacious and without graffiti. Each coach has space for pushbikes and because the floor is level with the platform, the kids just ride aboard. On the return trip a security guard and ticket inspector were present.
My plan was to phone Pat and Rosie from the city but upon arriving at Adelaide Station I found that I had only about fifteen minutes before the departure of the Bellaire train heading out to their suburb of Torrens Park so decided to just go anyway and if they weren't home, then I might continue on sightseeing out as far as the rail would take me. In the event I found that there home was only a kilometre or so from the station, a very pleasant walk through a leafier environment in cooler foothill air, without flies. From the port to Adelaide had been flat. The city itself was on rolling land and now I was not far from the ranges that from the ship had looked like low background hills, not too dissimilar to the Waitakeries though presenting a more gentle horizon.
No body home. The paths were littered with leaves indicating desertion but cloths hanging on the line gave hope. I settled down on a canvas chair in the shade of beautiful trees and relaxed. Half-an-hour later the carport door lifted and a very surprised Rosie stepped out of her car into the lens of my camera. They had just arrived home from a holiday the night before to hear that I could be visiting Adelaide. Rosie could not have been more amazed to see me standing there. Pat was out at the farm checking his stock and water supply so Rosie arranged to drop me out there to have lunch with him and spend the afternoon in the country. What an absolute treat. Again the pictures tell the story better than words. Pat is a lovely man to spend time with and I made myself mildly useful by opening gates as we fed out and moved a few cattle.
What do you think of the pasture?
He drove me back on a scenic route, pointing out features of interest. There is a considerable variety of land use, mainly according to soil quality, which ranged from sheep or cattle farming to fruit growing and vineyards. It is quite beautiful and there were a good number of life style places scattered about too. As with everywhere that happens, the land prices have gone up and I think Pat said his place has more than doubled in value in five years, not that he has the slightest intention of selling. Pat drove me back to the station and I just had time to dash across the tracks and leap on the departing train - neat timing again.
Trains to the outer port were running from the Adelaide station hourly so I went for an inner city walkabout, mostly along the length of the pedestrian only section, the far end of which had a good number of very fancy restaurants with correspondingly high prices. I made do with a snack for no other reason other that by then I was starting to flag and wanted nothing more of the day than to flop into my bunk.
Sunday, 17 April 2005
The day dawned clear and cool. A car transporter had docked at its special wharf nearby. They are ugly tin boxes looking nothing like a ship. Three freighters lay anchored outside awaiting our departure. There were quite a number of small boats out fishing too. Now I could now see why the breakwaters were small. The bay is very shallow as well as being protected from the ocean swell by Kangaroo Island.
It was most puzzling for a while after departure because the land seemed to be on the wrong side but then on checking the chart in the wheel(less)house I saw that it was actually Kangaroo Island on the left and that the lack of land on the right was just due to the low-lying nature of the mainland. On close examination there appeared to be a forest of white masts at shore level which, the Third Officer explained, was a large wind farm. There was another bunch out on Kangaroo Island. We had approached Adelaide in the dark so I hadn't seen how it lay and I wasn't sure that it had been via the mysteriously named Back Stairs Passage but we were definitely heading west for Investigator Strait below Yorke Peninsular so I supposed it had been. I hate not having the geography sorted out and regret not having some general maps to refer to. Must put that on my shopping list for Fremantle. I had no idea how long (and barren) Kangaroo Island is. We were motoring in sheltered water all morning.
Sunday day-of-rest came to an abrupt halt mid-afternoon with a call to attend a party Klaus was throwing for the crew for his farewell. I went down to the crew lounge armed with beer and camera and if every picture tells a story, then I need explain no more because I think there are seventy of them to do the job. I am grateful to Klaus for providing a speedy introduction to the crew and they are a heap of fun. The idea of an early party was to give them decent recovery time before having to work the next day but I think Klaus was the only one needing serious recovery time. If you want a sound track to accompany the party photos, put on Live Aid at fifty-million decibels. You will note the typical sailors" puzzles - in the case of the wire and string ones, probably as old as sailing ships.
Sunday day-of-rest came to an abrupt halt mid-afternoon with a call to attend a party Klaus was throwing for the crew for his farewell. I went down to the crew lounge armed with beer and camera and if every picture tells a story, then I need explain no more because I think there are seventy of them to do the job. I am grateful to Klaus for providing a speedy introduction to the crew and they are a heap of fun. The idea of an early party was to give them decent recovery time before having to work the next day but I think Klaus was the only one needing serious recovery time. If you want a sound track to accompany the party photos, put on Live Aid at fifty-million decibels. You will note the typical sailors" puzzles, which in the case of the wire and string ones, are probably as old as sailing ships.
Moving out into the Great Australian Bight a bit of a quartering swell gave us a few good jolts in the night. Next morning I shrouded the camera in a plastic bag and attempted some bow-wave shots and was wet through for my efforts - marvellously stimulating - but the results are hardly sensational. The waves make a tremendous noise crashing up under the bow. There are some things you just have to try once� The swells were about the length of the boat apart. If you try flicking through the bow-wave sequence of photos taken over the side you might get some idea of what it was like, although without the huge swishing sound of the surging water and the accompanying overhead screech and groan of straining containers, you will only get a mild rendition.
In all this distance from New Zealand there has been nothing yet that would daunt me in a small boat, not that I am at any risk of being put to the test. With the fairly regular ocean swell and enough breeze to provide a scatter of small whitecaps across the sea it would be ideal full-sail Pono conditions.
I watched the sunset in the company of Hermann in the shelter of his deck F, each of us nursing a dreg of wine and occasionally peeping around the corner into a cool wind to view the spectacle. It's a three-day east to west voyage to Fremantle so the clocks go back one-and-a-half hours. We rollicked on through the night, the lift of the stern occasionally providing almost complete weightlessness like the floor of a lift dropping away on descent.
This proved to be a very pleasant passage affording time to hobby with camera and computer, to read and catnap. The one day between ports is a bit more frantic than ideal.
Tuesday, 19 April 2005We spotted a small pod of large dolphin heading the opposite way and Brigitte said she had seen the spout from a whale as we entered Bass Straight the other day. Klaus saw dolphin before arriving at Noumea but I had missed them. Not many sightings for my trip so far. I spotted land out the dining room port hole at lunch time so there goes the Great Australian Bight. Later I checked the chart and noted that we were passing an Albany, just down from Mt Barker if you are looking for it and Albert pointed out that the bay contained my island, Michaelmas Island. So there you are. A course change a bit further along past Cape Leeuwin brought the swell more to the side and with an increase of a knot of speed the motion improved. Getting up to close to 20 knots suggested an estimated arrival time of nine o-clock Wednesday morning.
Viewing ahead of us the beautiful evening sky with red and orange streaky layers across the sunset horizon and the south west tip of Australia and its winking lighthouse to our port completed a most satisfying day.
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