11/07/17 S 21 57.62 E 114 09.51 Exmouth
11/08/17 S 27 55.45 E 113 13.05
11/10/17 S 32 00.00 E 115 59.00 Fremantle
11/11/17 S 35 02.45 E 117 54.54 Albany
11/12/17 S 35 16.42 E 125 55.64
In 2008 we were told, by the rental representative from Apollo Campervans (“campervan” is Australian for “motorhome”), that Exmouth is the “end of the earth.” We were on a three-month journey around Australia by train, plane, automobile, and campervan. When we knew we’d stop here on our cruise, we decided to try and reconnect with the guy in Exmouth who fixed the refrigerator in our campervan and saved our trip from a possible disaster, Bill Ruby. We did reconnect and had a marvelous time with him at his club and home and “yacht club” (he neither knows how to sail nor does he own a yacht but he’s nevertheless been the Commodore for the past four years).
The day we were in Exmouth is the “day Australia comes to a halt”: Melbourne Cup Day, a two-mile (!) horse race in—what a surprise!—Melbourne. Randy entered the sweepstakes for a whole A$2 and lost it all: his horse came in 12th. But we had a couple of beers and a great time, met Bill’s wife and a friend of hers, and a shipboard friend did win A$240 on the winner, Rekindling.
Afterwards Bill showed us around town including the famous statue of a shrimp (Australia is known for its gigantic representations of various life forms) and his yacht club and took us to his house where he plied us with more alcohol while describing how he makes his own wine as well as beer. All in all, a great day.
Another sea day and a half and we arrived in Fremantle, better known to most Australians as Freo (Australians seem to want to abbreviate everything: breakfast is brekky, for instance). We had booked an independent (meaning not a Holland America tour) wine tour to the Swan Valley with 10 companions from the ship. Plus our plan to go to a special restaurant in Perth, Lalla Rookh. Pay attention, this is complicated: our friends, Robin and Skip, have a daughter, Katey, who married Patrick from Perth who is the chef who owns Lalla Rookh (you can google the name to learn the story of the name).
So we had a wonderful dinner with Katey (while Patrick almost literally ran around the restaurant making sure all was working well) complete with a local wine and preceded by a local gin, West Wind. The gin was wonderful, a very distinctive and pleasant taste and aroma. We even managed, with the help of a local to buy our tickets, to utilize the train to get back to Freo and the ship.
Randy had two goals on this trip: to buy a new Australian hat (Kathy, you can now stop looking for his hat in the river in Idaho) and to replenish his stock of shirts from the Fremantle prison. As of the morning in Freo, he has now accomplished both goals (he found a hat in Darwin). I was too pooped from our 11-hour day in Perth/Swan Valley to go with him, however.
Not much time to rest, we went on to the next port, Albany, the very next day. Took a Holland America tour of Torndirrup National Park and the National Anzac Centre. Why have we not learned that HAL tours are almost always overpriced and overcrowded? We had a great, very funny, guide (who only talked to us while we were actually on the bus, never at our destinations) but 43 people arriving at once at a tourist spot is jolly good fun. And getting 43 old farts off a bus made for Japanese-size people is also jolly good fun.
Nevertheless we did see some very interesting places, especially Torndirrup NP. As soon as we started down the road I recognized that we had been there in 2008. Of course much has been modernized since then. Now there are Swedish steel walkways where in 2008 we clambered over the rocks!
Then on to the National Anzac Centre, a museum dedicated to the warriors from World War I. Quite depressing, actually, although it is ranked as one of the best museums in Australia.
Home to the ship, onward to Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne (apparently pronounced MEL-bun), and Tasmania (AKA Tassie—see previous comment about how Aussies shorten everything!