March 8, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 217 days
As Queen Victoria heads north to Hong Kong, Queen Mary 2 has arrived in Australia for her overnight call to Sydney. Australia is a highlight for guests and crew as it marks the half way point of the World Voyage and the ports of call there are stunning. This year both ships make maiden calls to the south coast cities for the first time, so I want to share Queen Victoria’s visits to those ports in this Blog.
Australia is big, in fact England could fit in to the country 59 times, yet it has the lowest population density of any country in the world with just two people per square kilometre. Between our first port of Sydney and the final port of Exmouth, Queen Victoria sailed 3,232 nautical miles across three time zones. She visited six cities, four of which are apparently in the top fifteen most livable cities in the world!
We started our Australian adventure in Sydney and as you may recall from the Blog on 22 February, we celebrated our third visit to the city by turning Queen Victoria pink, in aid of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. For more great pictures of Queen Victoria in Sydney on last year’s World Voyage click on this link:
Here’s a picture of Queen Victoria docked at Circular Quay taken this year from the other side of the iconic Harbour Bridge.
There is so much to do in Sydney, but one of my favourites is to take a ferry to Manley, and then walk along the coastal path where you feel you are in the outback, yet have the most incredible views of Sydney Harbour:
After a spectacular Sailaway, we made our second call to the capital of the state of Victoria, Melbourne. It was the capital city of Australia from 1901 until 1927 and has twice shared the top position of The World’s Most Livable Cities on the basis of its cultural attributes, climate, cost of living, and social conditions. It is home to numerous prestigious sporting events and is an impressive home to the arts. It was the perfect city to host Queen Victoria’s World Voyage Dinner, which this year was held at the National Gallery of Victoria. I’ll be doing a separate Blog about that in a few days time, but needless to say it was a spectacular event. This is a great view of the city:
After a day at sea, Queen Victoria made her maiden call to Adelaide, the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of South Australia, and the fifth-largest city in the country. Named in honour of Queen Adelaide who was born in Germany, the consort of King William IV. The city was founded in 1836 as the planned capital for the only freely settled British province in Australia. It is known for its many festivals, sporting events, food, culture, long beachfronts and its wine. In fact I spent the day with some of Queen Victoria’s Sommeliers visiting the D’arenberg winery in McLaren Vale, and I’ll have a special Blog on that as well over the coming days. It gave us an opportunity to see some of South Australia’s stunning countryside:
Two sea days later, we arrived in yet another Australian state, this time Western Australia. I soon found out from our many Australians on board that they pronounced this town, Albany with A as in “At” as opposed to the way I would have said it as “All”! Once that was cleared up, our guests enjoyed the relatively small city of approximately 33,000 residents.
The city was founded in January 1827 as a military outpost of New South Wales as part of a plan to forestall French ambition in the region. The area was initially named Frederickstown in honour of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. In 1831 the settlement was transferred to the control of the Swan River Colony, and renamed Albany by Governor James Stirling. During the First World War the town was last port of call for troopships departing Australia, but today it is more known as a tourist base where visitors can discover the beautiful surrounding areas as well as the town which is well regarded for its natural beauty and preservation of heritage.
The following day we reached the port city of Fremantle which is 19 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of Perth, the state capital of Western Australia, at the mouth of the Swan River on Australia’s western coast. It was the first settlement of the Swan River colonists in 1829. The city is named after Captain Charles Fremantle, the English naval officer who had pronounced possession of Western Australia and who established a camp at the site.
Most of our guests visited the nearby city of Perth which was founded on 12 June 1829 by Captain James Stirling, as the political centre of the free-settler Swan River Colony.
There were many stunning buildings in the city, and one of the most impressive has to be the Swan Bells which are a set of eighteen bells hanging in a specially built 82.5 metres (271 ft)-high copper and glass campanile.
Twelve of the set are historic bells that were donated by the St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in London, to the State of Western Australia as part of the 1988 Australian bicentenary celebrations. The other six were cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, with metals mined in Western Australia. They are one of the largest sets of change ringing bells in the world, and have become a major attraction in the city since they began ringing in December 2001.
Our final port in Australia was certainly the smallest and most remote, and as one Australian guest told me “It’s the closest to the outback you’ll get to on the coast”. Queen Victoria anchored off the town of Exmouth and the ships tenders took guests and crew ashore.
They weren’t kidding when they said it was small. We arrived at the pontoon area which is currently being developed in to a lovely marina area, but as you can see it’s still in the early stages.
A short shuttle bus ride took us in to the town of just under two thousand residents, although apparently this does swell to over six thousand at the height of the tourist season. Exmouth was established in 1964 to support the nearby United States Naval Communication Station. Despite its current expansion, it is still a small rural town. This is the high street which is as busy as it gets:
The two big attractions in the area are the Cape Range National Park and the world renowned Ningaloo Marine Park, famous for its snorkeling and glass bottom boat tours. There’s not that much in the town itself, so when I asked David and Sue Holbert from Britain what they had done, they told me it was apparently a great place to have your haircut. Here they are sporting their new looks:
Meanwhile in our pursuit to find something to drink and eat we did find a good local pub, having given up looking for this Chinese restaurant?
I still don’t know what that sign was doing there; maybe next year! In the meantime I think our chances of finding a good Chinese restaurant may be a bit better when we visit Hong Kong this week!
Well that’s it from Australia for another year, but I have two more Blogs from this great country coming to you this week, including a report from Queen Victoria’s 2010 World Voyage Dinner and our trip to a Winery near Adelaide. I’ll also be back with another Video Blog about Queen Elizabeth and news of some stunning artwork that will feature on board our new Queen. Cheers Alastair