Monday, 11 June 2012

Australia Day 13 – Monday 11th June

Another day at sea, so another leisurely start. Today was the first day that there had been clouds in the sky – it has been clear blue up to now. It wasn’t the nasty grey ones though, more like the fluffy white. Paul was still not feeling completely at ease, so had just a light breakfast. The first lecture this morning was with Mick entitled “Captain Courageous” and was about the sinking of the SS Koolama in 1942. Paul decided to sit this one out – maybe a good idea! It was very interesting though – as the ship actually still sits in the dock area in Wyndham, where we had been yesterday. It was sunk by the Japanese, and the story revolved around the Captain, Jack Eggleston. There was one picture in the presentation with our Captain and an elderly lady by the commemoration plaque in Calamity Cove, where most of the passengers were evacuated to. It turns out that this lady was the daughter of Captain Jack Eggleston, and so the Orion made a detour to stop off in Calamity Cove as she had not been there. The rescue of these people was down in no small part to two aboriginal runners, that alerted the authorities in Darwin where the ship was. They ran over 120 kilometres over the Kimberley land in two days, which is amazing. I remember that the driver we had in Wyndham had said that his grandfather was one of the two runners that rescued passengers of the ship – now I know what a grand feat it was.

It was a bit of frivolity after that – we had the “Orion Cup” horse race. We had initially five “horses” – Clothes Horse (Ricky the waiter), Manila Maiden (Cat from reception) One Hung Low (Harry) and Too Phar Gone (Brad). Heinkickin (Anja) was disqualified after a blood test proved too many cocktails in the sample!

The horses had to be auctioned first – there was no shortage of people who paid up to $150 for each horse. Then we could put a $10 bet on which horse we thought would win. Each horse was allocated either a heart, diamond, club or spade, and then the cards were drawn. The first one to 13 was the winner – and it was mine. I won $30. Paul still hadn’t ventured indoors – he felt it was safer on deck. He also missed out on the champagne that flowed to celebrate all the winners!

After lunch, we had another lecture entitled “Why aren’t there Monkeys in Australia” which was a really interesting biography on Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, who I had never heard of. It was he that discovered and recorded many of the species that had been attributed to Darwin. Both of them British, and Wallace being a descendant of William Wallace of Scotland. Fancy coming to Australia to learn about your own history!

Then, crepes suzette on the deck. How can you resist? They were delicious.

We had a final recap in the Leda Lounge this evening on the whole cruise – it has gone so quickly. It seems only yesterday that we were being welcomed on board with champagne. We had a compilation of photos from every day of the trip – all put to music – and the bonus is that we will all be given one when we leave the ship tomorrow. Perhaps I can pass some of those wildlife shots as my own? Maybe not! Dinner was again exquisite – maybe we will have to go to Serge’s restaurant in Sydney to see how it compares! Back to the packing, one bag to leave in Darwin and one bag to take for three nights to Bamarru. See how that goes then!

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