Days 185 – 188 (Dec 3rd – Dec 6th) At sea and Australia. Sydney

The final day at sea and the last Ventures appearance on deck 7 coincided with a constant stream of White-capped albatross flying alongside the ship.

We then had the last trivia, thankfully finishing a close 2nd, so avoiding yet more Seabourn tat, and the last Grand Brunch….followed by packing and usual logistical problem solving, such as how to get nearly full bottles of drink off the ship and into our Sydney hotel room.
The last show by the entertainment team was a repeat but one of the best with jolly, popular newish songs and dances. Not long now!

The 2nd and last Grand Bruch with Corrie, Theresa, John and the 3 singers, Ellie, Rachel & Matt

Our last day on board started with sunshine and warmth as we headed up the east coast of Australia towards Sydney. Arriving at the mouth of the harbour at 10am we could see the city in the distance. At the Gala night the captain had provided some statistics on our trip, all in the past 65 days…:

35 kg caviar

18800 bottles of champagne

13800 nautical miles

Sydney is the capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities. Indigenous Australians have inhabited the Sydney area for at least 30,000 years, and it remains one of the richest in Australia in terms of Aboriginal archaeological sites. In 1770, during his first Pacific voyage, Lieutenant James Cook landed at Sydney, where he claimed possession of the east coast of Australia for the British Crown, naming it “New South Wales”. In 1788, the first fleet of convicts, led by Arthur Phillip, arrived in Botany Bay to found Sydney as a British penal colony, the first European settlement in Australia. Phillip named the city in recognition of Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney. Penal transportation ended soon after Sydney was incorporated as a city in 1842. A gold rush occurred in the colony in 1851 and over the next century, Sydney transformed from a colonial outpost into a major global cultural and economic city. After World War II, it experienced mass migration and became one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Sydney has hosted major international events such as the 2000 Summer Olympics. The city is among the top fifteen most-visited cities in the world.

Sailing into Sydney was quite an emotional experience (for your correspondents anyway) as it combined reuniting with Tali after nearly 12 months, the end of the first leg of our journey to the opposite end of the world and what has to be one of the most iconic skylines on the planet. We sailed past Sydney Harbour National Park and entered the harbour proper as views of Sydney Harbour bridge and the Opera House came nearer and nearer.

Sadly we didn’t dock in the centre of Sydney but at some industrial harbour a few miles out, something which didn’t go down too well with the monied guests on board the ship, many of whom had spent substantial sums to sail to Sydney. Despite this, intrepid Tali had found a way into the port, blagged a drink at the staff cafe and was there waiting for us. She came on board, met a few of our fellow travellers, enjoyed lunch at the patio and then we took the bus shuttle to Sydney proper, for a tour around the harbour and Opera House.

That night we ate at a Middle-Eastern fast food place just down the road from the hotel. We headed back onboard for the final night before being officially allowed to disembark. The next morning we sailed through customs, they weren’t interested in marmite or ryvita and caught a taxi to our hotel in the centre, where Tali was waiting for us.

She had been busy, locating the nursing home Gordon Travis ( 2nd cousin, this time on mothers side) had been in when she’d arrived last year. Due to COVID, she was unable to visit him. With trepidation, we rang the home to see if he was still there and discovered he was. Being close we decided to visit immediately and after arriving and seeking his wish to see us, plus waiting for the results of our rapid covid antigen tests, I was able to see Gordon for the 1st time since 1986. His first words to me were “you’re not Helen, you’re twice the size!” How to make someone feel good! We had a quick visit before lunch and then I returned and spent a lovely hour chatting but mostly listening to Gordon reminiscing about my mum, his travels around the world (4 times), his piano playing at various hotels and restaurants in Sydney, the time myself and friend Debi had visited him ( he remembered Debi for some reason) whilst backpacking around Australia in 1986. He has the most amazing recall of facts about cricket and football and is a Spurs supporter.

As we were leaving he told us more about the last place he worked, the famous Alfredos in the centre of Sydney. We called, booked a table and turned up to ask if Alfredo (the very same..) was there. He was and joined us for a few minutes as he described how he and Gordon were such good friends but he’d not been able to see him since COVID. He promised to go and see him now it was possible and thanked us for dropping in. Later on he came back with 3 limoncellos at the end of a very enjoyable meal.

The next morning we all went to buy Tilley hats, essential for protection from the hot sun

The next morning our tour guide took us our to Watson Bay, a delightful suburb of Sydney and part of the aforementioned national park, reached by a very efficient ferry service from Sydney harbour

Our stay in Sydney was over, next challenge, the east coast to Brisbane.

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