Saturday, 21 February 2009

Day Forty Two: Yorkeys Knob… tee hee.

OK I know what you are thinking……. Why is there no apostrophe in Yorkeys, right? Well we have it on the very best authority that despite this town being known for a man’s appendage that there never has been an apostrophe in its name. The Knob is not what you dirty minded people are thinking either, (and again we have it on the best authority) that Yorkey was a sugar worker in the days when sugar cane was cut by hand and in an unfortunate accident he lost his………….. forearm! With the result that he had a knob of bone and muscle where his elbow ended and from then on the town was named after this part of his anatomy. See there is a clean explanation for everything if you look hard enough! We certainly drove through his town but I can’t say that we actually noticed it as we sped through due to the fact that we were running late all day.

We were at the Theatre Royal well before our allotted time and got our Tour A1-1 badges that designated which tour we were on and we joined the throngs of other A’s, B’s G’s etc. These groups were called in turn and exited down the stairs onto the tender that was to take us ashore and this is where the confusion started. We had been told that we would be using the Oriana’s lifeboats and there was a couple of them buzzing around but what did we find when we finally got down to the exit deck but a bloody great sea cruiser that was awash with all the tour groups all mixed up together. Along the way we all had to put our bag near a sniffer dog’s nose to check that we weren’t taking any forbidden food such as sweets and biscuits ashore and this was about the only efficient part of the process. You can imagine how long it takes to embark and disembark 8 or 9 coachloads of passengers, we were sitting and waiting on the tender longer than it took to get across the 2 miles of water to the waiting coaches. By the time that Hilary and I got off, and we were among the last, they were pleading with us to hurry up because the train was waiting for us, but of course there was nothing we could do about it. You move at the pace of the slowest and believe me there were a lot of people with walking sticks and wheelchairs that could not be passed. So with that we were constantly being harried all morning, the train ride was great and even though there were 3 of us sharing a bench seat those in our group were fair and even changed around so that we could all take photos out of the train windows. Some of the views along the way were spectacular and we have posted some of them so that you can share them with us but despite being promised a stop at the final railway station so that we could buy postcards we were rushed through and back into a coach so that we could then drive into the rainforest and join our DUKW.

These vehicles are ex WWII, built in 1942 by women and can run on land or water, they have been modified to run on propane so that they are reasonably eco-friendly. We did a nice tour through the rain forest although we didn’t see many animals we did manage to spot a large blue butterfly and later on a tame cockatoo. It was good fun and we had a very confident young lady about Jessica’s age who drove the DUKW and gave a running commentary at the same time. But all the time we were conscious of the fact that they were desperate for us to get back to the coach so that they could whisk us off back to the Oriana, we rushed through the visitors centre, missed out the kangaroos and koalas – at least we had already seen those – couldn’t find any postcards that were relevant to the train ride and we were generally miffed that what could have been a very enjoyable experience turned out to be only a very good one.
Once the coach got us back to the harbour the trip back to the ship was actually very good, we sat outside on the top deck of one of these large cruisers, it had been raining but we found some dry seats, and had a nice pleasant 10 minute trip back where we could have a nice cup of tea and a couple of biscuits. I will leave Hilary to tell you her version of what happened but one last thing before I go….. we went to the cinema last night to see Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in Australia, a very long film but edited for the ship down to 2 3/4 hours. It was a bit predictable but we did learn a lot about how the Australians treated the Aborigines and their children as well as about the Japanese bombing of Darwin in WWII. No doubt the invasion of Rabaul – our next stop – will amplify what actually happened with the Japanese.

Tiz a very pee’d off I. The tour office will hear about the way the tour was handled as soon as they open again. If the tender had taken the tour people ashore on time we could have had a very much better day and been able to take time to enjoy the whole experience. The train ride and the DUKW ride were excellent and enjoyable but the period between was upsetting. Enough of that. It has been another beautiful day in a beautiful setting. We are sailing between countless numbers of small islands all looking lush and very tropical. We were lucky that the rain shower today happened after our ride on the train and the views from the top were spectacular. The temperature each day is reaching close on 90f by mid morning. Sam took some great photographs of the train and rain forest ferns. The train track was built by hand with a work force using picks and shovels and dynamite starting in the mid 1880’s with the grand opening in 1887. The labourers suffered many hardships including landslides and fever. In 1911 some of the track was damaged by two cyclones and it took 800 men and 4 ballast trains 10 weeks to repair the damage. I am thankful that they did because the train makes a great experience for the traveller. The rain forest was amazing, we saw plants which were hundreds of years old and a poisonous plant which causes incredible pain if you touch it. Apparently the pain is similar to shingles and recurs every time the affected skin is made colder, warmer, put in water etc. and this can continue for up to 6 months… one to be avoided if possible. The ferns were huge and the fans were enormous – Australia is full of wonderful and different things to see and do, it is so much more than I ever imagined. The rain has set in now so we will probably stay in the cabin until we sail at 5.00pm. Dinner tonight is smart casual so, thank goodness, I do not have to dress up to the nines! Now I am off to be a very grumpy old woman to the tour office. Take care, God bless.

Apparently she had a really good go at the tours people and feels better for it now, it probably won’t change anything but she got it off her chest. I just might try and write up a procedure for them to show them how to organise their tour operation. We forgot to tell you that our last formal meeting on the Captain’s night produced some good photos and an especially good one of Hilary, I will have a go at re-photographing it and reducing it so that you can see it. Just got back from the movies again and this time it was a nice little romantic film called something like Miss Pettigrew’s Day Out, set in 1939 it was a neat little pastiche of life in the upper class as war approached. That’s it for tonight, I will add the photos and let us know what you think of them. Good night.


Marlene and Tara said...

Hi guys! So sorry the trip wasn't quite as good as it could have been. Hilary grumpy? Don't believe it, I bet she tore them off a strip in her usual calm manner! Hilary - I hope you have thought of buying some tea tree oil whilst in Australia - as it is where comes from and its really cheap. If you were able to get some aqueous, you could make yourself up a new potion. In a small pot of cream, no more than 8 drops of tea tree.
I am in the process of advertising for a lodger so that I can stay here. I have given it a lot of thought and am not ready to return to Plymouth yet. I want to at least spend the summer here with all the beautiful beaches and countryside. Tara and I are well. Missing you of course but so happy you are having such a wonderful experience. There's nothing like travel to broaden the mind.
Lots of love for now. xxx

samw7 said...

Hi There
Sorry that your trip wasn't as well organized as the others. You would have thought by now that they would have the logistics sorted. However, it sounds as though what you did see was beautiful. Jess and I saw Miss Pettigrew when I was in China and we both enjoyed it. It's a cool day here and my friend Carol is visiting. We are probably going to see Doubt so that I can add one more film with Oscar nominations that I've seen before tomorrow's show. UT basketball game tonight. Oklahoma is expected to kick our butts but I am optimistic our boys will stand strong. Love to you both.