Getting onboard again after our adventures in Queensland was a bit of a shock, given that the Queen Mary 2 is much bigger than the Odyssey, and we noticed a lot of differences between the 2 ships. However, this was to be our home for 42 days and there was little we could do about that. Sailing out of Sydney was less emotional than sailing in, back in December, but was equally dramatic and, of course, it underlined the fact we wouldn’t see Tali for several months.
Cunard came with 2 major disadvantages when compared with Seaborne: the wifi service is hugely expensive and largely ineffective and all drinks, with the exception of those provided in the room, have to be paid for and so we had to plan for maintaining contact with family and spending as little as possible on alcohol. On our first evening we addressed another bugbear on our last trip, that our table in the Queen’s Grill was hidden away in the dark side of the room, away from the windows. As luck would have it the same maître d’ was there and as he had promised us back in May 2022 that a better table would be ours & Helen went to work to ensure he kept his promise…We sat down to dinner only a table’s width from a window, seated between an American couple who had sailed all the way from New York and a couple from Sydney who were doing the short hop to Perth.
Our first stop was Melbourne and we then moved on further west, north of Tasmania and through very calm seas, White-capped albatross and a half hour time change prior to arriving in South Australia and
Kangeroo Island, the 3rd largest island in Australia, where we’d booked a RIB tour along the coast. The sea was choppy and we were lucky to get on shore as the tenders used to transfer guests ashore, if the ship is unable to dock, are lifeboats and, being very buoyant, tend to move with the swell, making the experience quite exciting for us younger guests but perhaps too hazardous for the more elderly people on board. It was while waiting to board in the poor people’s dining room that I took this photo perhaps illustrating that Cunard at its best is still pretty impressive.
After a very bumpy ride over we were taken to our boat and our trip out to see dolphins and seals.
And then to a lookout over the harbour
Unlike Queensland, where the wet season is in the summer, in the south of Australia the reverse is true and the summer is the dry season, explaining why the island looks so parched. The last big bushfires were in 2019 and caused huge damage to infrastructure, farms and the extensive national parks on the island. Adelaide is on the mainland just across the water and the next day was spent there catching up on mundane matters prior to leaving on 2 sea days towards Busselton and Perth and more time zone changes totalling 2.5 hours over the weekend. On leaving the captain announced that he’d be deploying the stabilisers and the weather would be cold and windy, not the best way to experience days at sea, although it made for some good shots of Short-tailed shearwaters
Busselton (Busso) is a seaside town within easy reach of Perth and a frequent stop-off for cruise ships. It is famed for it’s very long pier at the end of which is an aquarium. The beaches are surrounded by shark nets as the annual “salmon” run (they’re not salmon) attracts dolphins and sharks. QM2 is a large ship and had to anchor a long way off-shore so requiring tenders to move people ashore and back. This process seems to be an achilles heel of the QM2 staff as for the 2nd time in a week we had to wait at least an hour to be crammed into a very uncomfortable lifeboat. Once ashore it was so hot we found sanctuary in a French bistro, bought a few essentials and scurried back to the ship. We were very lucky as soon after boarding the wind picked up and the service was suspended for an hour. That evening we were treated to a superb sunset as we left for Freemantle, the harbour of Perth.
Perth is home to Rosie, schoolfriend of Helen, and her husband Bob and they picked us up from Freemantle, firstly stopping off at Cottesloe where the beach is transformed into a gallery of sculptures
Followed by a stop at the botanical gardens which overlook the centre of Perth and which, fabulous views notwithstanding, are a beautifully constructed series of gardens
Before returning to their house for homemade lasagne and a few glasses of fizz for the ladies
Freemantle is a major port on the west coast of Australia and watching the container ships was a constant source of amazement
Returning to the ship, we made one last aussie call to Tali, before setting off on our circular route (i.e. the shortest distance between 2 points on a globe) to Mauritius, 7 sea days away.