Sunday, 13 December 2009

Canberra, Australia

Dear Ethel, Family and Friends,

Well, since our last post we have travelled a further 4800km back to Canberra, fortunately not in a campervan though, we decided to fly. We searched the internet for a week for a cheap way to get back to the east side of Australia and eventually we found Qantas flights cheaper than Virgin and Jet Star. It seems that if you’re looking for flights well in advance, the budget airlines are the way to go but If you’re looking for flights a week or less in advance, look at Qantas.
We really enjoyed our stay in Perth and the trip over and the last week was spent exploring Perth and the surrounding areas. As we were right in town, we toured the city on the free city busses. The water front area near the Bell Tower is a spectacular spot and also has the giant Ferris Wheel as well the ferry port and waterside restaurants. We also explored the beach side areas of City Beach and Scarborough and the inner city areas of Subiaco and Northbridge offering great food and dining opportunities. We also travelled a bit further afield to Rockingham, 50km south and a tranquil seaside town still unaffected by high rise and other modern big city problems. Another place we visited was New Norcia, a monastic town, owned and run by a group of Benedictine Monks, which has some interesting history and buildings.

One of the high lights for me was visiting Fremantle, home to the WA sailing fraternity. As a sailor myself, it was great to visit as it was the venue for one of Australia’s greatest sailing victories when we won the Americas Cup in 1987. Apart from the fascinating town centre, many historical buildings and street scapes, the Maritime museum and wharf E-market shed, we decided to take a closer look, on the water. We saw a tall ship at the wharf the Leeuwin II, a replica of an earlier tall ship that sailed in these waters 200 years ago. We went out on a twilight sail between 4 and 8pm and sailed about 3 quarters of the way to Rottnest Island, an Island about 20km offshore from Perth. It was a fabulous cruise as it unfurled about 8 of its sails with the aid of a crew of 6 professional sailors, the officers and a team of volunteers, about 20 on our cruise and additional help from the guests, including me. It was a lot of fun doing the navy chant, 2, 6 heave, as we pulled up the sails. After all the sails were up, some of the more adventurous folks (me) climbed the mast and the bow sprit, took the helm for a while and generally pretended to be a pirate for a few hours, great fun.

The following day though it was far more serious, I headed to the Fremantle Sailing Club with an appointment to sail on a racing yacht, an ‘Adams 13’ about 45 foot, named ‘The Long Boat’ with skipper and owner Ole and his wife Annie and crew, eight in total. FSC is a very big Club and marina with a lot of active sailing and racing vessels. The day I sailed there, a two day ocean race started at 9am that morning so the afternoon race we participated in was short on numbers, however there were 9 other yachts in our class and there were 3 other divisions. It was a splendid day but a bit short on wind but it was a great way to see the bay and the coastline from the boat.

We have been in Canberra a week now and looking for work and for house sitting positions and deciding what we should do next as we needed some stability back in our lives. I checked out the Canberra Yacht club during the week and went down for a sail today. I sailed on a ‘Magic 25’ class sports racing boat named ‘Houdini’ and had a lot of fun although it was very light wind. The boat has a trapeze which I haven’t used before but I had a great time up on the side of the boat.
It looks like we will be in Canberra for Christmas and we are still homeless, jobless, car less and still trying to decide what to do next. Once again we will let you know one way or another.

All the best for now.

Ric & Louise