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|Cunard Queen Mary 2
World Cruise 2013 - part 3
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After 24 hours at 23 knots average we reached Adelaide, back on schedule..
Adelaide is the capital of South Australia, founded in 1836 when the first governor, Captain Hindmarsh, arrived. Adelaide is a huge sprawling metropolitan area stretch 90 kms along the coast and 20 km inland. A free shuttle bus service is provided from the Outer Harbor to King William Street and the Rundle Mall in the CBD, about 25 kms away. The town of Port Adelaide, with its four important museums, the SA Maritime Museum, Port Dock Railway Museum, Historical Railway Museum and Historic Military Vehicles Museum, is just 10 kms south of the Outer Harbor. The shuttle bus went through Port Adelaide so we saw some of the restored buildings and vessels moored on the wharf.
The first part of our walking tour was south, down King William Street, to Victoria Square and the Central Market. It is the largest undercover produce market in the Southern Hemisphere and on Saturday was very busy, with stalls selling fruit and vegetables, mixed with bakers, cheese and salami stalls, fishmongers and butchers. Local produce included the barramundi fish we had tasted on QM2, and kangaroo meat. Local cheese was more rare, but we were surprised by the excellent selection of european cheeses and the high prices locals seemed prepare to pay. The entrance is opposite the Metropolitan Hotel, established in 1883, and Her Majesty's Theatre.
There are many historic buildings around Victoria Square and it is the legal district, including the Attorney General's office and the Law Courts. It was all very quiet at weekends. St Francis Xavier's cathedral was also quiet, with just a few people inside praying. Outside, the statue of Mary MacKillop, Australia's first saint, shows the start of her pioneering work in education. Although the original foundation stone of the building was placed in 1856 it was not until 1996 that the tower was finally completed and the building could be dedicated as a cathedral.
Walking back slowly along King William Street gave the chance to admire the Post Office, the Treasury, and then visit the Town Hall. The second part of our exploration was along the pedestrianised Rundle Mall, named after John Rundle (1791-1864). Many of the buildings date back to the 19th century, including the two-storey Adelaide Arcade which was completed in 1885 in Italianate revival style. The fountain, cast in 1850, was recently restored by public subscription.
Rundle Street ends at East Terrace, near the Botanic Gardens which are at the join with North Terrace. The gardens feature a Palm House, built in 1871 and the oldest glass house in an Australian botanic garden. It contrasted with the modern Amazon Waterlily Pavilion. The water-lilies are very similar to the ones we have seen in Mauritius and outside was a lake full of lotus flowers. We spent some time in the adjacent Museum of Economic Botany with its impressive collection set up as a reference and part of the 'acclimatisation' activities. North Terrace is the hospital, museum and university area. Opposite the Royal Adelaide Hospital is Ayers House, formerly the home of Sir Henry Ayers. It is part National Trust museum and part restaurant, but only open for guided tours and only in the afternoon at weekends.
Continuing along North Terrace, UniSA and University of Adelaide buildings show an Oxbridge influence, especially Bonython Hall which was built in 1936 but looks much older. The Art Gallery of SA was established in 1881 and had the Turner exhibition on tour from the Tate Modern – we rather regret we did not look in as it had been booked solid in London. It is next door to the SA Museum. On the corner of Kintore Avenue the National War Memorial and Sailors Soldiers and Airmen Memorial commemorates those who fell in the Great War and World War II. Finally, Parliament House, on the corner of King William Street, was begun in 1873. Again it was built in stages with the first part completed in 1889 and the second part 50 years later.
Once more we had high winds and rough seas as we were approaching Fremantle and the Captain had warned us the previous evening that the arrival at the pilot station had been put back by the Port Authorities. Fremantle has a narrow dredged channel and entry and once inside there is a limited space to turn a large ship with only 25 metres clearance in the case of the Queen Mary 2. The pilot pick up was put back progressively throughout the morning and we spent a long time in the neighbourhood of Rottnest Island, waiting. We were due to meet up with Di, a friend going back to college days, in Fremantle and she had gone in early to watch the arrival so there was a a long interchange by TXT as we sat looking out on the seas from the Commodore Club and she sat in the Maritime museum at the entry having abandoned the 'heads' after getting the car covered in salt spray. She said one could surf into the harbour whilst we were getting winds gusting to 65 knots so we knew it would take a while.
Finally we got the pilot at 1200 and eventually started a tentative approach which had to be broken off as we were coming in with a 15 degree slip - far too much to fit in the narrow channel. After a delay to let the conditions improve and a reconfiguration of the ships drive we successfully made it in with two tugs looking dwarfed alongside. The three bowthrusters can deliver 15 Mwatts and two of the azipods can be turned at 90 degrees so the Queen Mary 2 has tremendous capabilities in such adverse conditions - even so the 180 degree turn with 25 metres clearance was reported to be interesting in the very gusty conditions. The good news was there were lots of supplies to load and the decision was made to delay departure from 1730 to 0600 the following morning so there was going to be plenty of time ashore.
It was 1400 by the time we were safe alongside and the Australian authorities were aboard to clear the ship. We had positioned ourselves well and were some of the first off the ship and found Di in the process of txting us to say she was on the the steps outside the terminal as we exited. We had been to Fremantle before when we were staying with Di and had also explored Perth, the Swan River and the Margaret River wine areas which are all written up in A Wicked Time in Australia so the main business was to catch up with Di who we had not seen for a couple of years whilst having a quick look round Fremantle.
While others rushed onto the waiting row of Fremantle trams, we set off towards the centre. The weather was very different to what we remembered from the last time and from the previous weeks - there had been heavy rain which broke their drought and it was quite cold. We started at the Esplanade Hotel, walked down Essex Street to South Terrace, also called the Cappuccino Strip because of all its pavement cafes and boutiques, including interesting furniture shops and aboriginal craft shops. The Fremantle Markets were closed but South Terrace is full of sturdy old historic buildings dating from the 19th century, and all in good condition. The University of Notre Dame has been purchasing many, if not most, of the older large buildings and doing renovations.
We looked at the Old Round House, the oldest building in Western Australia, built in 1830/31 and right on the coast. It was closed but the surroundings had good views over the port and we walked down onto the beach front where there were many sculptures. Unfortunately we did not have the chance to go to the the Maritime Museum which is in a custom built building of a most interesting shape as it was close to closing time. The museum had been well worth a visit last time and had been a good introduction to the Australian way of life as well as giving us insight into pearl diving - very appropriate as we had just finished the celebration of our Pearl Wedding Anniversary when we came in 2004. The only problem with the museum then was that the labels were somewhat obscure and rarely seemed to correspond to the layout of the exhibits making it somewhat of a detective job to match up everything which we trust will have improved by now. They also nowhave a submarine outside - the whole area was an important base for submarines during the second world war. Likewise it was too late for the Fremantle Prison although they do run candlelit trips some evenings.
The Fishing Boat harbour itself was a bit disappointing as we had remembered it for the Pelicans sitting on all the poles but none were braving the weather this time. We stopped for refreshment at 'Little Creatures' which used to be a crocodile farm but has now been converted into a micro-brewery with bars and restaurants mingling with the tanks and machinery - a most unusual sight. Di told us they do excellent wood fired pizzas but it was too early to eat so we just sat outside and tried some of the beers - the enormous tanks behind the bar each have details of the brew and who has brewed it chalked on the side. It must get very busy in the evenings as there are hundreds of bench seats. The Duyfken 1606 Replica is berthed at the rear.
We then took the car along the coast to the North, passing Cottesloe and Swanbourne, and stopped at Clancy's Fish Bar, a beachside restaurant at City Beach, where we sampled a few more of the local beers and tucked into the most enormous helpings of Fish and Chips whilst watching the sunset. The Feral Hop Hog from Swan Valley, the Nail Ale from Bassendean and White Rabbit Dark Ale from Healesville were each pronounced superb although the Feral Hop Hog had the edge in taste as well as bing the strongest. Prices seemed high to us, at AUD21 for fish and chips, the cheapest meal on the menu, and AUD10.8 for a pint of beer, but that is partially the effect of the exchange rate of only AUD1.3. All too soon it was time to return to the ship. We must come back to Perth for a proper holiday with Di - last time we had ten days in the area and we found plenty to do for all of it.
Early the following morning we set off, and passed the tall ship Leeuwin which was moored at Victoria Quay. We also had an excellent view of the Maritime Museum and the submarine, in the early morning light.
In the next part the journey continues across the Indian Ocean to Port Louis in Maritius and on to Durban in South Africa