Friday, March 20, 2009 – Day 5 Cruising Sydney

I can’t believe how quickly we’re loosing track of days, so we’re going to start labelling the number of days we’re on the cruise to help keep track.  We’ve been in Sydney 2 days and this really is a fabulous city. 

Today was busy and experiences were many.  We left early to walk to the visitor centre to get walking tour directions.  We eventually found the visitor centre and it was extremely well stocked with lots of free maps (including a street map of Sydney which we could have used yesterday – I didn’t tell you that we’d got lost and stopped in at a Post Office to ask for directions and/or a better map than what we had; well they photocopied the page we needed out of a book to save us the $17 Australian dollars – how great is that).  Back to today, after we got loaded up with maps IMGP8526 we headed up Harrington to York, along to King and followed the arrows to the Maritime Museum.  Everything is well signposted (except to find the visitor centre).  Remember, if you look at a map on the road, someone will be by your side immediately to give you help (hence memorizing the street names :-)).

We purchased the “Big Ticket” which allowed us access to all the ships and boats on the wharf outside and entrance into the museum itself.   IMGP2832 The HMAS VAMPIRE was the last big gun-ship built in Australia before  the introduction of guided missiles.  This destroyer served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1959-1986 before it was stripped of its guns, decommissioned and donated to the national Maritime Museum.  It is extremely interesting.  Gerrit can add more technical details if he wishes :-).  We then went on board the HMAS ONSLOW, a retired submarine.  This vessel has been kept in top order.  Both the VAMPIRE and ONSLOW were receiving a fresh coat of paint while we were there visiting.  The ONSLOW served in the Navy from 1969-1999.  After the submarine IMGP8560IMGP2804

was decommissioned it was also donated to the National Maritime Museum.  It was quite frightening to see how little room these sailors had.  At any one time over 70 men were on board, during our tour we had about 8 people with us and it felt cramped. 

The absolute highlight of the tour was IMGP8692 of the replica “ENDEAVOUR”.  This magnificent replica of Captain cook’s famous vessel of discovery.  This is a complete replica in all every single detail and the museum keeps it spotless.  Oh yes, all the guides on board all the vessels and in the museums are volunteers.  We just can’t get over the number of volunteers there are in this country!!

IMGP8644 This vessel was in commission from 1768-1771 for Captain Cook’s circumnavigation.  A wealthy naturalist, 24 year old Joseph Banks actually took the captains quarters.  He and Cook were good friends and worked well together during the 3 year voyage.  Cook later served on 3 other ships but was killed on February 14, 1779 at Kealakekua Bay. 

Today this replica of the ENDEAVOUR still sails.  36 voyage crew sail with the ship, relaxing and sleeping in their numbered hammocks just as Cook’s men did in the 18th century.

Later we took the ferry back from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay.  IMGP8780 We had dinner at a lovely little restaurant close by the ship.  Gerrit enjoyed some free internet while I sipped on red wine.  The Volendam sails tonight at 10:30pm for 2 days at sea before arriving at Whitsunday Islands (it’s about 700 nautical miles from Sydney).

Finally in closing, I must thank my dear new friend Anne (of Anne and David) from back home.  Anne gave me a voyage journal to keep notes, and it’s the best thing – I keep my notes in it and then update the blog with more detail at night.  Thanks Anne.

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