Cruise Report # Twenty-Seven– Day 47 – Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In Port, Sydney, Australia

From the Ships Navigator

We will embark the local pilot at 6:00 am and then sail on a southwesterly course towards our berth in Sydney, Australia. The weather forecast predicts an outside temperature of 59 degrees, cloudy skies with a 60% chance of rain and a strong breeze blowing from the south-southeast with a force of 6. We had experienced very rough seas all day Tuesday and throughout the night, however the seas had calmed quite a bit as we approached the headlands of Sydney harbor. Ominous clouds were forming to the west and inland along the coast, and we feared the 60% chance of rain would be with us through the day.

Welcome to Sydney, Australia

Sydney is the most populous city in Australia with a metropolitan area population of over 4.2 million people. It is the state capital of New South Wales and is located on the country’s southeast coast. It will also be the fartherest south we will travel on our grand voyage. Sydney is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, the Hawkesbury River to the north and the Woronora plateau to the south. It lies on a once submerged coastline, where the ocean level had risen to flood deep river valleys carved in the sandstone. One of these valleys, Port Jackson, better know as Sydney Harbour, is the largest natural harbor in the world. Indigenous Australians have populated the Sydney region for at least 30,000 years. At the time of the arrival of the First Fleet (British) in 1788, 4000 – 8000 Aboriginal people lived in the region, with three language groups refined into dialects spoken by smaller clans. Urbanization has destroyed most evidence of these early settlements, however, Sydney and its environs are well known for numerous rock drawings and carvings in Sandston. Several gold rushes, starting in 1851, brought waves of people arriving from around the world and the rapid suburban development that began in the last quarter of the 19th century continues today, giving Sydney its cosmopolitan flair.

Barbara and I had spent five days in Sydney and New South Wales (NSW) in February 2006, so we were not interested in “spending” our short time in lengthy excursions outside of the downtown/harbor area. We had opted instead to take a 3 ½ hour “walking” tour of “Sydney Icons” namely the Sydney Opera House and an area known as “The Rocks”. Both icons were within a short walking distance from our berth at the Circular Quay Cruise Terminal. We were especially interested in touring the Opera House, as we would be able to visit some of the interior spaces of this “Australian Treasure.” We were thrilled as our guide (Desiree) walked and talked us through a building that is almost as beautiful on the inside as it is outside. The building interior is in itself an exquisite ballet of exotic woods, glass, carpeting, and concrete. We were even able to, quietly and with our cameras discretely tucked away, visit a ballet rehearsal in progress, in one of the main venues.
Far more versatile than the name implies, this is an entertainment complex for a wide range of performance and activity including; dance, drama, film, opera, jazz, five restaurants and six bars. It was the subject of derision when it was first built, but residents have come to be proud of their modern landmark.

Always ever present as you walk around the Quay, pronounced “Key”, was another Sydney landmark; the harbor bridge, once jeered as a “coathanger”, Sydneysiders eventually embraced this landmark as well. All during the day, we could observe “climbers” on their slow march to the top, and their crossover to begin their descent. Each climber pays $200 AUS for their three-hour “trek,” cameras not permitted.

Our next and final destination; The Rocks District, which is considered the cherished birthplace, of not just Sydney, but of modern Australia. We started a stone’s throw from where our ship was berthed, at Cadman’s Cottage and the oldest home in Sydney. (1816) John Cadman was convicted and banished from England for life to NSW for stealing a horse. Many Georgian and Victorian buildings line the district’s narrow streets reflecting the early years. At one point on our “climb” our guide stopped at what was a reconstruction of the foundations of a section of a typical neighborhood. These were not spacious buildings where the early settlers lived. Some rooms that housed several family members were not much bigger than our bathrooms at home. The area now is an exclusive shopping district. After our tour ended Barbara and I headed to the top of Argyle Street for a lunch of fish and chips and a couple of locally brewed beers at the Lord Nelson Pub, the oldest pub in Australia. Before returning to the ship, we did a little shopping, but with the high cost of everything in Australia, we bought little. Our lunch of one plate of fish and chips (French fries) and two beers cost $32.50 AUS. Our dollar has dropped so much in value that it is almost on a par with the Australian dollar. Just 18 months ago it was $1 US to $1.42 AUS.

I was so tired at the end of the day, I could not even hold my eyes open for the evening show! We were supposed to sail away at 8 PM but refueling took much longer than expected, and we did not sail until 11 PM. I was disappointed because I was fast asleep by then.

I am writing this report Thursday morning as we sail on a northeasterly heading with an average speed of 18 knots. The total sailing distance between Sydney and Noumea, New Caledonia is 1067 nautical miles and will take two days to get there. We are looking forward to the warmer tropical temperatures on most of our return to San Diego.

Till then, we bid you a final G’day from this beautiful land “Down Under”,

Jack and Barbara

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