SYDNEY TO HOBART! Maybe not the blue water classic ocean race, but a quick, fun cruise all the same.
Updated: Feb 28
Many years ago, maybe a few too many to mention, I was a liaison officer at the Cruising Yacht Club, in Sydney, (the CYC), for a couple of seasons for these
classic ocean yacht races. In fact, my first ever sail on a yacht was on the 82 foot Anaconda II for the
'Great Champagne Race' on Sydney Harbour,
just prior to the 1984 Sydney to Hobart yacht race. I wish I knew back then, how lucky I was!
We had actually been celebrating onboard the previous night, crashed on deck, and woke up to cases of champagne and caviar being delivered,
as well as the social set of Sydney arriving, looking their absolute best... We, however, were in crumpled clothing, tussled hair, no makeup and didn't have a care in the world, (or a ticket) so we stayed on for the ride. Stowaways!
It was a great place to be, a great time of year, and a great time of my life!
Thankfully, not many photos were taken back then -
we really did truly live for the moment!
Fast forward to now, and we jumped aboard our first 'Princess' cruise, for a short little Sydney to Hobart ourselves - oh, and alongside 3000 others.
This time, I had a friend I've known since high school, join us, along with her buddy, and we were also catching up with some dear friends who now live in Hobart.
Why fly to see them, when we can cruise?
What I do love is...sailing out from 'Sydney Cove'.
Seriously, maybe I am biased, but I believe this is the most beautiful harbour in the world. Not only having such landmark sites as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and The Opera House; but the whole harbour is magnificent. From 'Kirribilli House' (The Prime Minister's Sydney residence) nestled by the bridge to Fort Denison bang in the middle of the harbour; Taronga Zoo overlooking the Sydney skyline with the synonymous green and mustard coloured old Sydney ferries chugging by; scores of yacht clubs alongside stately waterfront mansions; stunning Sydney sandstone rock formations and the glorious North and South Head as your exit out -
Ummm, what's not to love?
Yep, I'm a fan.
Okay, so it was time for a few cocktails at sunset, leaving behind this magnificent site.
Life is good. A day at sea, then Hobart for a whole day and evening with our mates who live there. Heaven.
But first, perhaps a little R & R...
This was our first ever Princess cruise, and whilst we found it wonderful for the older age bracket - (they were very well taken care of)... we were after a little more action. It's just our opinion, and I sure hope we are still travelling in our 80's.
Bless them. x
Happily arriving early into Hobart on our 3rd day onboard, we were relishing our day ahead. Our friends, Heather and Peter had big plans for the day, and we couldn't wait to go ashore and meet them, after a year of us not seeing each other.
It was forecast to be a tad cold, showery, and even snow on the looming Mount Wellington that overlooked Hobart, so we rugged up for our day of surprises.
So, we left a big ship for a little one! First stop was a sailing ketch on the Huon River, leaving from Franklin, which was about a 45 minute drive from Hobart.
The showers passed through, so they hoisted the sails and we enjoyed a lovely cruise up and back on this quiet little river, with just with a few passengers for company, along with some delicious homemade fudge brownies and cups of tea.
We were enthralled hearing the story of this family who owned and sailed this yacht, and the fact they bought it in Denmark as a derelict 'fixer-upper' for the tidy price of a carton of beer. Many years and many dollars later, they sailed away from Scandinavia, to sail around the world, with a new baby in tow. When they finally made it to Tasmania, they loved it so much, they stayed.
He is a master craftsman boat builder, and now teaches young kids the ancient art of building timber boats. I highly recommend Yukon Tours, as a lovely addition to a visit to Hobart and it's surrounds.
It was a morning very well spent!
Heather had packed a delicious picnic lunch for us to have, so after leaving the boat, we called into a beautiful spot by the river, which Heath had already scoped out for us on a
'pre-visit-recon', and we shared a lovely meal with some local ducks.
Next stop on our fabulous 'Heather itinerary', was a request I had put in during our last visit, and Heather had remembered, so sweet. I love old cemeteries.
I find them fascinating, and 'The Hobart Cemetery' was fabulously interesting. Some of the older headstones had been removed from another site, and just placed randomly in an area...this definitely caught my eye, and was worth photographing.
Heath had done loads of research on this place, and we drove/walked around, learning the different stories about who was buried there, all the different religious groups having their own sections, and sadly, the area for the orphaned children, during the age of despair and disease.
Following this, it was a stone's throw to the famed 'Boatsheds on the Derwent'. Wonderful pieces of real estate - all these cute little boat sheds that are used mainly on weekends, as the law states you can't stay overnight in them.
After a busy half day or so, already, we spent time back in downtown Hobart, where Pete and Heath have a fabulous, convict built, redesigned home, so we could rest up before our next adventure. These amazing friends of ours had booked a horse and carriage ride with
Heritage Horse Drawn Carriages, which was to take us on an historical tour of
Battery Point - a beautiful residential area above the river, with so many architecturally different old homes, all beautifully restored, and to cruise past them in a horse drawn carriage, with the 'clip-clop' of horses feet, really gave you the feeling of the olden days. Our driver/tour guide was charming, well informed on the history of Hobart, and an utter delight to spend the hour or so with.
l got to sit up front with the driver...(it didn't take me long to ask for that favour) and it was a pleasure watching these gorgeous horses enjoying what they were doing, as weIl loving each other, as they'd sneak a smooch in every time we'd stop and talk about a site next to us.
At the end of this, our driver delivered us right to the restaurant that our friends had booked for dinner. Our favourite place in Salamanca to eat, 'The Rockwall' restaurant. BEST steak in town, and their wine list is amazing too.
What a brilliant day.
So great to catch up with best buddies, and do some delightfully 'different' things on yet another quick trip to Hobart-town. We wandered back to the ship, utterly exhausted,
Tomorrow is another full day - the convict jail/settlement of Port Arthur, and it's Melbourne Cup day too. Could be a biggy! Time to rest up for that! ;)
Waking up, moored just off Port Arthur, we were greeted by the most magnificent of days. Weather forecast was completely wrong, and in our favour. We were looking at a sunny day of around 16 degrees.
And it was just a short tender into the dock, to walk ashore for a leisurely day strolling around these beautifully kept ruins, and graceful gardens. Hard to imagine the toil and sorrow that this place once was.
Full of convicts, transported from 'Mother England', sometimes for as much a stealing a loaf of bread. It never even had any fences. There was nowhere to run back in those days.
That said...many who served their time, either chose to stay, or couldn't afford to return to England - but the good guys were granted a piece of land...much more than they would get back home - so became the birth of our nation. Be it in Tasmania, or NSW...these guys carved a life out of nothing, and some of them prospered in this new world. In times gone by, no Australian would own up to convict heritage - but not now...
What hard yakka trail blazers these guys must have been.
I'd be proud to have them in my background!
We piggy backed on a walking tour, as they had them running free of charge, and enjoyed an entertaining, yet educational run down on life in Port Arthur back in the day. If you ever get to Tassie, this place should be number 1 on your itinerary.
So, as we were walking on to explore the surrounds, someone came up to us saying,
"Excuse me, it's...Trevor, right?"
And we were like: "Yeahhhh...?"
To which this guy said, (and as he said it I recognised him immediately)....
"We were at your commitment ceremony onboard a ship out of Singapore..."
OMG, I said, "David, and Anne, right?" Yep!
These guys we met on our Southeast Asia cruise nearly two years ago now, and had invited them, along with 2 other couples we had just met as well, to our 25 year vow renewal ceremony with the Captain, just off from Vietnam.
However, whilst we have stayed in touch with the other two couples via Facebook, unfortunately we never got to exchange details with these two, so we never stayed in touch. It was AWESOME that David came up to say hi, and "Glad you're still married" !!! Lol.
It's a small world, hey!
So afterwards, we ran into these guys quite often on the ship, it was fantastic.
Yet another plus about travelling.
Back to Port Arthur...
Glorious photo ops everywhere!
Come to Port Arthur.
Listen to the guides' stories.
Read the info boards outside each building/room.
Talk to the volunteers. It's amazing. This was our second visit, and we learnt so many new things.
Maybe, about 1pm, we were done ashore - happily, so we took the tender boat
back to the ship.
Melbourne Cup day was on, and being played on the big screen over the pool. So we scored a couple of deck chairs...
Trev napped whilst I made friends with the drinks waiter...;) Haha, so 'us'.
Time for a frozen margarita - AKA brain freeze -
and to watch 'The Race the stops the nation', by the pool, off Port Arthur. Happy days indeed. I didn't even have to frock up.
Life is great!
Cheers to watching the 'once a year horse racing experts', win/lose and get
more than a tad 'messy'. Hehe.
Another great day, followed by an evening of cutting some fine moves on the dance floor. Trev was happy I had some girlfriends to do this with, so he left us to it. Probably just as well...;)
The following day saw us cruise slowly through the Freycinet Peninsular and past
Wine Glass Bay.
Even the Captain announced that we were having unprecedented favourable weather, which made the journey so pleasurable. Passing the seal colony of the tiny 'White Island', bang on 7am, right off our stateroom balcony, just as it was announced the previous evening.
However, no-one told the seals to be there.
The rest of the bay was tranquil, with the stunning rock formations fairly close to the ship. So much land still uninhabited, to me, it's exactly how Van Dieman would have first seen it, back in the 17th century.
So from here, we headed back north, for our trip back to Sydney. Another sea day to enjoy the last bit of this mini-trip, then it's back to home, work and the grindstone again. Gotta keep working towards the next getaway!