19-22/4/16. Leaving Brisbane we set off for Darwin, a journey of four full days at sea. The time has passed in a very pleasant, if lazy, manner.
We have been trying to limit the damage to our waistlines by taking some exercise. There is a 200 metre jogging track on Deck 12, although the opportunities to actually run are limited to early in the morning because of the number of people walking, either to get from one part of the ship to another or, as we do, doing laps. We have taken to spending a large part of the morning walking 8-10 km. In addition, there is a gym where Stephen can get his fix of cycling (sort of) on the stationary bike. The swimming pools are not really big enough for exercise as such – more like places for cooling off.
We thought that a series of lectures on topics relating to the Pacific area (first explorers, Papua New Guinea, Ned Kelly, etc) sounded interesting. How wrong we were. The first one was just a series of short unconnected pieces, seemingly lifted verbatim from Wikipedia, that was the sort of thing a disengaged 14 year old boy would come up with for a school project that he was unable to evade. Christine tried the second one (on PNG) out of curiosity to see if it was as bad. It was!
There have been two opportunities to wheel out our Op Shop glad rags for formal dinners and we are quite pleased with effect – nicely set off by the absence of a tie to go with Stephen’s long sleeved travel shirts and (the crowning glory) his trainers! (Well at least they are better than his only other shoes which is a pair of sandals.)
The course from Brisbane has taken us past the Whitsunday Islands (which we passed at night) and inside the Great Barrier Reef. Then we rounded Cape York, the most northerly point on the Australian mainland, and sailed through the Torres Strait coming within 50 miles or so of Papua New Guinea where we lived for 6 months immediately after we were married. Unfortunately the combination of distance and haze meant that we could not see PNG. Because of the depth of the sea around the Reef and through the Strait it was mandatory to have a Reef Pilot on board to help with the navigation and, once we were clear of the dangerous areas, he gave a very interesting presentation on his role.