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5 weeks in Austrailia, SE Asia and Hong Kong.

mark christianmark christian Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 24,511 ******
edited April 2019 in General Discussion
This was by far my most ambitious vacation, but because I was on a cruise ship the logistics were actually quite simple. Food, bed, and travel from one destination to the next was all taken care of; I didn't have to do a thing other than enjoy the sights. You can see the itinerary for the first leg here:
IMqDKA7l.png

The trip began with a 20 hour flight to Australia. Oz is an enormous country, about the size of the CONUS, but with a population of around 25 million, most of whom are scattered along the coastline. I can't say enough about how friendly the Aussies are; as well as being helpful to tourists, whose visits generate a good deal of money. Wildlife, both land an marine, are what the typical tourists want to see, but I'm not really interested in either. I'm especially nervous about the sharks, jellyfish and crocodiles which are common. The beaches are nice and despite the water being bathtub temperature, I didn't go into the ocean at all!

Here I am at Sydney Harbor after 20 hours in the air. The Opera House and the bridge are two of the city's famous landmarks:
dmBYBvil.jpg
SnsjGMcl.jpg

The Norwegian Jewel, which would be my home for the next 31 days:
eSL2sHKl.jpg

The Jewel is a nice ship, holding about 2500 passengers, which is about half the size of the "Megas" which Norwegian is now building. The food was great, the drinks were always cold, and there was plenty of entertainment on board, including some really good shows. When we crossed the equator there was a crossing the line ceremony, which I'll detail later.

It was a great trip and I had a lot of fun. With 2500 people on the same ship for such an extended amount of times it was really like a small town. I became friends with a lot of great people and many of us would met up for breakfast or lunch and then have a few drinks before dinner...and quite a few after!

F1 qualifying is happening in a few minutes so I'm going to break away and after lunch I'll continue with Australia.

Comments

  • He DogHe Dog Member Posts: 49,594 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Good start Mark. Near the opera house is the Botanic Garden, which had cockatoos and fruit bats flying around. Kinda of my first wake up that I was not in Kansas any more. Unlike you I was very interested in the plants and wildlife, but the beer was good too. 8-) I am really looking forward to the Darwin photos, I really like Darwin and have spent a couple of weeks around there and Kakadu.
  • SCOUT5SCOUT5 Member Posts: 16,195 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Nice of you to share. I look forward to reading the rest.
  • Horse Plains DrifterHorse Plains Drifter Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 37,975 ***** Forums Admin
    edited November -1
    I look forward to more!
  • WarbirdsWarbirds Member Posts: 16,511 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Very cool! I have stayed in the Intercontinental next to the Opera house and walked over that bridge.

    Cant wait to gear the full story.
  • mark christianmark christian Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 24,511 ******
    edited November -1
    One of the ports we stopped in was Newcastle, which is north of Sydney. Newcastle had been an industrial town but is remaking itself into a vacation spot. Most of the folks on my cruise ship went to the beach or did some shopping in the fancy boutique stores, but I was interested in Fort Scrathley, which overlooked the bay. The fort was built back in 1892 but its guns were not fired in anger until June 1942 when they dueled with a Japanese submarine. The gunners opened fire, got off four quick rounds and bracketed the sub, forcing it to submerge. Pretty good shooting.
    OBmZNMKl.jpg
    kweiqQkl.jpg
    The fort fires a salute at high noon everyday from one of the cannons.
    00fDObj.jpg
    The tour guides are retired Australian military men, all of them former Army, except for one. He was a Royal Marine and dressed the part!
    z2dEbHWl.jpg
    I had a lot of fun at this fort and I learned a great deal about the Australian Army in the process.
  • He DogHe Dog Member Posts: 49,594 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Didja try the XXXX Gold?
  • mogley98mogley98 Member Posts: 18,310 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Awesome thanks for sharing keep em coming :)
    Why don't we go to school and work on the weekends and take the week off!
  • Mr. PerfectMr. Perfect Member, Moderator Posts: 63,788 ******
    edited November -1
    I love it. Thanks for sharing this Mark.
    Some will die in hot pursuit
    And fiery auto crashes
    Some will die in hot pursuit
    While sifting through my ashes
    Some will fall in love with life
    And drink it from a fountain
    That is pouring like an avalanche
    Coming down the mountain
  • wpageabcwpageabc Member Posts: 8,968
    edited November -1
    Nice itenerary. After 5 weeks you will be qualified as merchant marine. Looks like you picked a great cruise...

    Enjoy! Please post more pics.
    "What is truth?'
  • KenK/84BravoKenK/84Bravo Member Posts: 9,020 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    One of the ports we stopped in was Newcastle, which is north of Sydney. Newcastle had been an industrial town but is remaking itself into a vacation spot. Most of the folks on my cruise ship went to the beach or did some shopping in the fancy boutique stores, but I was interested in Fort Scrathley, which overlooked the bay. The fort was built back in 1892 but its guns were not fired in anger until June 1942 when they dueled with a Japanese submarine. The gunners opened fire, got off four quick rounds and bracketed the sub, forcing it to submerge. Pretty good shooting.
    OBmZNMKl.jpg
    kweiqQkl.jpg
    The fort fires a salute at high noon everyday from one of the cannons.
    00fDObj.jpg
    The tour guides are retired Australian military men, all of them former Army, except for one. He was a Royal Marine and dressed the part!
    z2dEbHWl.jpg
    I had a lot of fun at this fort and I learned a great deal about the Australian Army in the process.






    So,.................................................................................................................................................................




    The "Royal Marine," was the Beefy chick to the left with the backpack and the digital pants? :o:D:lol:

    Extreme NE TN/W NC ya'll. 😁

  • NeoBlackdogNeoBlackdog Member Posts: 14,802 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The bell shaped shrouds on those big guns are pretty interesting. Is their purpose to protect the crew from incoming small arms fire or to shield them from muzzle blast, or a bit of both?
    Thanks for the pics and narrative!
  • mark christianmark christian Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 24,511 ******
    edited November -1
    The next port of call was Brisbane, and it was here that the subtropics began. It was noticeable warmer and more humid. Not to bad mouth Brisbane, but there isn't much for tourists to see or do. It is just a very large port city, so if you've been to Tampa, Mobile, or Long Beach, you've seen Brisbane!

    The next stops were Airlie Beach and Cairns. The weather kept getting hotter and the humidity became uncomfortable. I live in central Florida and also have a home in Panama City, Panama, so humidity is nothing new for me, but this was height of the southern summer and it was pretty bad. Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, but I stayed ashore.
    9lGHxNIl.jpg
    Sharks were less of an issue up here, but the locals say it was because the crocodiles chased them away! A sting from some of the jelly fish are deadly while others just make you wish you were dead. As a child I was stung by a jelly fish and it was one of the most painful things I've experienced.
    kAdcjjO.jpg
    Some of the beaches are rather primitive, but are netted against sharks and crocs
    GVpE9hGl.jpg
    This gives a better look at the net.
    2Mfielbl.jpg
    Nice looking split level lifeguard shack.
    T9MokFBl.jpg
    I was talking to the life guard and he told me that just two week previously a man was walking his dog along the shore. He allowed the dog off the leash (which is not allowed) and to actually go into the water. The dog was then attacked by a crocodile which was laying in wait. The croc latched onto the dog, rolled it over and over and then dragged the dog under the water. That was the last time the dog was seen.
    For those of use who aren't brave enough to go into the ocean, there is a wonderful salt water pool.
    Ml9p3C7l.jpg
    9s1Kcf9l.jpg
    A bit of pleasant local scenery. Lots of good looking young women is Australia, mostly tall blondes with athletic builds.
    bH2AyT0l.jpg

    If you want to see marine life then Cairns is the place to do it and you can easily arrange for a charter boat to take you out to the Barrier Reef. Not my thing, but everyone I spoke to who went out to the reef enjoyed themselves.
  • Horse Plains DrifterHorse Plains Drifter Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 37,975 ***** Forums Admin
    edited November -1
    Thanks Mark! More to come I hope?
  • mark christianmark christian Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 24,511 ******
    edited November -1
    I'll finish out Australia with Darwin, which, which is at the very top of the island continent. We are in the tropics now and there is no denying it. We arrived in the evening and it was raining so hard that few dared leaving the ship to venture into the city. The next morning there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun beat down relentlessly. 100F and 100% humidity. I didn't think that was possible anywhere other than a steam bath, but I was proven wrong. Darwin doesn't have a lot to offer visitors, at least not those limited to a single day. I opted to visit the air museum, which is about twenty minutes west of the city and was easy to reach in the comfort of an air conditioned city bus. The city buses also have free Wi-Fi!
    City Hall.
    QfW4kDil.jpg
    The main bus terminal across the street from City Hall:
    zpUCgahl.jpg
    The pretty much wraps up downtown Darwin!
    The big draw at the air museum is it has one of only two B-52 bombers on display outside of the USA
    XtC4HyZl.jpg
    Wsp8pe3l.jpg
    The quad M3 BMGs might seem archaic in the jet age, but when the MIGs came up to challenge the BUFF's over Hanoi the final score was B-52's two kills and the MIGs...ZERO!
    FnIMRtpl.jpg
    A Mirage fighter. The plane is surprisingly small.
    sCWSscil.jpg
    A Spitfire. I'm unsure of the variation.
    ed2Xxyll.jpg
    A B-25 Mitchell.
    nelGaBGl.jpg
    There was a small but tasteful memorial to the 500 Australians who lost their live sin Vietnam. A short biography accompanied each photo.
    Lxw0mDOl.jpg
    PL92ypjl.jpg
    Australians take their military history VERY seriously. It has a relatively small population and there are very few families who have not suffered a loss of a loved one during conflicts starting with WWI. I have clear memories of Gallipoli where visitors found the grave of an great great uncle or other family member.

    Observations on Australia: The people are extremely friendly and some of the most helpful I've encountered anywhere in the world. Everyone is fascinated by the United States and I was surprised to learn just how many Australians have visited the USA. I'd love to return, this time visiting Melbourne and Tasmania as well as making a side trip to New Zealand. If you have the chance to visit Oz (a nick name which very few Aussies use for their own country) by all means do so. The LONG flight, typically 20 +/-, is no fun but Australia is worth it!
  • dpmuledpmule Member Posts: 6,485 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Looks like you had a fabulous trip and couple ports of call that I would like to visit. Darwin especially.
    I've partook of many XXXX's in Brisbane and Cairns. I really enjoyed the times I spent in Cairns. I enjoyed it more than Brisbane.
    Cairns was a small sugar cane, deep sea fishing, and barrier reef touring town when I first visited it in the late 80's, got to watch it turn into quite the tourist haven, every time I went through on my way to PNG, it seemed to change and more and more Japanese tourists flocking there.
    My favorite was Trinity beach, good place to have a cold XXXX and watch the white pointers sunbathing.
    I've done the Sydney thing, boat toured Darling harbor and visited the old wool terminal.
    My last visit there was just one week before they started allowing the bridge walk tour, something I would really like to have done, maybe someday.

    Keep the pictures and running dialog going.


    Mule
  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,826 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The pictured pair of guns at Fort Scratchley are BL 6" MK VII Naval Guns from Vickers approx DOM 1899 for use as the main gun platforms of a new class of British capital ships including battleships / monitors / and heavy cruisers.

    It also saw use as a 152mm heavy field gun in WWI after being removed from obsolete ships of the line - later transitioning into a coastal defence gun with shield embrasure.

    The original production run was 898 pieces of which maybe 24 are still extant in what used to be the distant corners of the British empire.

    Original spec and construction allowed the use of a QF center fired self contained metallic cartridges with smokeless powder - but it turned out the sustained rate of fire with the silk bag method was appreciably higher and magazines / bunkers could hold more ordnance with bags than with brass.

    8 rounds per minute out to near 16,000 yds traveling at up to 2800 FPS

    Mike
  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,826 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Some anecdotal evidence points to the unique curved shield embrasure being part of the original naval gun turret enclosure - having been pared down during repurposing and conversion...

    Mike
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