Trips around Australia in 2009, 2014, 2016 and 2017 (Cruise on the 'Radiance of the Seas').

Driving from Sydney to Melbourne 2009

Saturday 3 October

Sarah dropped us at the airport and we flew with Qantas to Sydney. On arrival we picked up a little yellow Hyundai Getz from Europcar and drove through the rain to our motel in Campbelltown, the Formule 1.  It was a cheap motel but adequate.

Sunday 4 October

We woke at 6.30am due to the 3 hour time difference and found it was still raining.  We traveled south along the 'South Coast' from Campbelltown to Bateman's Bay.  Our longest stop was for church at Port Kembla Baptist where we were made very welcome. There are lots of lovely beaches and seaside towns on the South Coast.  We stopped at Wollongong, Kiama, Gerringong, Shoalhaven, Nowra, Huskisson and Burrill Lake. Each place is beautiful! We settled into a motel in Bateman's Bay and watched the league Grand Final, then walked down town to get a hamburger.


Monday 5 October

In the morning we went for a drive around the beaches near Bateman's Bay. There are many lovely surf beaches and plenty of people enjoying them as it is the Labour Day holiday. After lunch in Bateman's Bay we drove over a mountain range and on to Canberra, the capital of Australia. We stopped at some of the small towns along the way and were particularly impressed by the wooden crafts in a shop in Bungendore. We found our way to the site of the Girls' Brigade Conference, just outside Canberra and were warmly welcomed.  After dinner we got everything prepared for the training workshop and finished the day with worship around a campfire.


Tuesday 6 October


In the morning Ross ran his "train the trainer" workshop for 70 youth leaders at the conference. They were very enthusiastic about the session and were all fully involved and keen to learn.




In the afternoon one of the leaders took us on a guided tour of Canberra. First we visited the ''Floriade' garden festival and saw their spectacular beds of tulips, then we walked across Lake Burley Griffin towards the distinctive Houses of Parliament. We had a look around the National Archives and then were shown some of the city sights and also the water dam at Lake Cotter, near our campsite.



Wednesday 7 October

We left camp and headed for Merimbula back on the coast.  We travelled via a scenic drive and got a bit lost but soon found our way to the Monaro Highway.  It was raining (as it had been for most of our trip!) but then it started snowing!!! Initially the snow was quite heavy but the road was clear but soon the countryside was white and there was ice on either side of the road.  We made it to Cooma and found that the road ahead was closed in two places. After lunch we checked again and the road was 'open with caution'.  We headed off and the snow got heavier! We found the road was still closed but there was one way out still open that would get us to Merimbula.  We finally made it there, but the journey took 6 hours rather than 3. When we checked in at our motel we were told it was the coldest and wettest day of the year! We had a quick look around but it was too cold and wet to enjoy Merimbula.

Thursday 8 October

We drove from Merimbula to Lakes Entrance. There isn't much to see on the way but trees!  It rained much of the time but cleared when we reached Lakes Entrance so we could explore the pretty township, beach and lake. This is obviously a great tourist spot in summer, but quiet when the weather is cold and rainy. We stayed the night at the delightful Tambo Lodge, just north of town.

Friday 9 October

We drove from Lakes Entrance to Bairnsdale and found the the road north to Albury required chains in the Mt Hotham alpine area. We had booked a motel in Albury but had to let the booking go and head for Melbourne instead. We travelled east through the Gippsland towns of Morwell, Moe and Traralgon. In heading East the road got better, the traffic heavier and the weather nicer. Sunshine at last!

In Melbourne we braved the traffic and went to the Koorong Christian bookshop in Blackburn. What a great shop!  We got some great bargains then it was back into the traffic to Port Melbourne where JJ and Heidi were waiting for us.


Saturday 10 October

We returned the rental car then we went to Healesville Sanctuary with Fraser, Debbie, JJ and Heidi. We got into a major traffic jam on the way as there was a big smash on the motorway. We were first in line when they finally opened the road!  The Healesville sanctuary had not been affected by the terrible fires early in the year, but they had moved all of the animals out anyway. We saw the full range of Australian animals including some impressive bird shows.  JJ liked the kangaroos the best!


Sunday 11 October- Friday 16 October

We spent the week with the family following the normal routines: 

·      church at Bayside (in a gym) and then to the South Melbourne Markets.

·      visiting the city and the Queen Victoria Market. 

·      playgroup, swimming, shopping, walking etc.

Initially both JJ and Heidi were a bit sick which slowed down what we could do. Also we were affected by Melbourne's legendary weather with extremes of sun, wind, rain and hail. Phil and Sarah arrived part way through the week to sell badges at the Armageddon Expo at the weekend so it was good to catch up with them.



Saturday 17th October

Fraser, JJ and Heidi took us to the airport for a morning flight and Sarah picked us up in Wellington. 

We had a lovely couple of weeks in Australia: providing an input to the Girls’ Brigade Conference; seeing the lovely coast between Sydney and Melbourne, and visiting with the family.

Next time, though, we will be better prepared for Australia’s variable weather at this time of the year.

Sydney to Brisbane 2014

Sunday 30th March.

Sarah took us to the airport and we flew to Sydney. We picked up a brand new red Hyundai i20 rental car and drove up to Port Stephens where Debbie and Fraser had rented a holiday home.

Monday 31st March.

We spent some lovely family time at Fingals Beach and also our local beach in Shoal Bay. The beaches around  Port Stephens are truly beautiful with lovely white sands.


Tuesday 1st April.

We went to the mall and then explored Soldiers Point, Anna Beach and Gan Gan lookout. It is pretty hot so had a swim back at the apartment and a rest before spending the afternoon at the gorgeous Little Beach.


Wednesday 3rd April.

In the morning we went for a long walk and climbed through the bush to see some old gun emplacements. We were pretty tired after this and had a refreshing swim in the apartment's pool. Then in the afternoon we went on a dolphin watching cruise. We saw about 30 dolphins including a few babies. The cruise was great because there  was the opportunity to swim in a drag net alongside the boat or to go down a waterslide into the sea. Lots of fun!  In the evening JJ and Heidi put on a magic show.


Thursday 4th April.

Even though it's April it is still hot because the weather is perfect with long sunny days and little wind. Today we  went to beautiful Bilugi Beach which has massive sand dunes and rock pools that the children explored. It was too hot for us though and we soon headed back to the apartment for a swim and a rest.  In the evening we baby sat so Debbie and Fraser could go out for dinner.

Friday 5th April.

The day was cooler so went for a walk to Little Beach with Luke and Dan while the rest of the family exercised. Then in the afternoon we had a look around the local shops while the family went for a bike ride.


Saturday 5th April.

We left the family and drove north along the Pacific Highway to Coffs Harbour. The 400km journey took over 5 hours. We checked in to the magnificent Novotel Pacific Bay Resort and had a wander around the luxurious grounds and a swim in the pool (just before a big thunderstorm).


Sunday 6th April.

We had breakfast, and went to the gym before leaving for the Gold Coast. The 300 km journey took 4.5 hours including stops at Kempsey and Byron Bay. We found our way to Geoff and Andrea Grigg's lovely place in        Elenora and had a great evening catching up with them.

Monday 7th April.

Kathy went for a morning walk with Andrea then we all went for a drive up to Mount Cougal. We walked up to an  old timber mill, passing through lovely bush and by spectacular waterfalls. After lunch at the Mall we went for a    walk along Currumbin Beach then Geoff and Andrea took us out for dinner at the Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club. A great day!


Tuesday 8th April.

In the morning we went to the gym with Andrea, then in the afternoon went for a drive along the famous Gold Coast. We stopped at Burleigh Heads and climbed to the top of the hill for more spectacular scenes of the coast. Next we had a look around the local mall and then in the evening Jacko and Melika joined us for dinner.

Wednesday 9th April.

We farewelled the Griggs and headed north to Brisbane.  We stopped for lunch with Donovan Burton, Kathy's nephew, then dropped the car off at the airport. We had done 1250km. We were picked up by Janet Wyvill and had coffee at the University with her friend Graeme. We then met with her parents Lou and Orma and went for dinner to the high end Alegria restaurant. After an amazing meal Janet dropped us at Carman's in Bracken Ridge,for more sharing about family and old times we experienced together.


Thursday 10th April.

We had a nice time catching up with Mike and Gaye and then went for a short drive to see Sheree's new shop. In the afternoon Mike and Ross played golf while Gaye and Kathy did some genealogy. In the evening we watched  videos and reminisced.


Friday 11th April.

We went on a long drive inland over Mt Glorious then past the Wivenhoe dam through the Esk Valley, returning   through Kilcoy. These were all parts of Queensland we hadn't been to before. In the evening Dawn and Phil Hartnet came over for dinner, together with Sheree and her family

Saturday 12th April.

We got up early and Mike and Gaye took us to the airport. There was a security breach there so we were       screened three times before we got away. We flew Virgin to Wellington and were picked up by Sarah. After a look at the developments in their backyard we were off home.

We sure did have a lovely time in our two weeks in Australia.

Melbourne to Adelaide. May 2016.

Saturday 21st May. To Echuca.

We went into Melbourne Central on the train and picked up a Suzuki Swift from East Coast Car Rentals. It took about 4.5 hours to get to Echuca, a little longer than we expected due to the time it took to get out of Melbourne. We checked in to the Old Coach Inn and then went down to the wharf area to explore. Echuca certainly is a wonderful place with its historic paddle steamers on the Murray River.



Sunday 22nd May. To Mildura.

We went back to Echuca’s port area to do a little shopping and to see it in daylight. We then headed for Mildura, a drive of about 5 hours, following the Murray River. It was a pleasant drive through rich farmland with much cropping and many vineyards. We checked in at the Mid City Plantation Motel and then walked downtown to explore the port area. It is much more developed than Echuca but with fewer paddle steamers.

Monday 23rd May. To Murray Bridge.

Another long (but very interesting) drive. Again about 5 hours. First we followed the Murray west from Mildura through a major grain growing area so there were enormous grain fields for well over 100km. We stopped at Paringa, Renmark and Loxton, lovely tourist towns on the Murray and the centre of the Riverland area. We then travelled south stopping at Karoonda to see a pioneer village, before arriving in Murray Bridge and checking in at the Adelaide Road Motor Lodge. Later we went and had a look around the local mall. Murray Bridge is much bigger than the places we have visited so far, but equally dependent on the Murray River.



Tuesday 24th May. To Adelaide.

In the morning we went on a lovely cruise on the paddle steamer Captain Proud. The cruise took 3 hours and included a very nice lunch. We were seated with people from Waikanae who had recently lived in Paraparaumu! Cruising on the Murray is just wonderful! Afterwards we drove to Adelaide stopping at Mt Barker, Hahndorf and Mt Lofty. We checked in at the excellent Adelaide Granada Motor Lodge and then walked along the road to a big shopping centre and mall.


Wednesday 25th May. Adelaide.

It was raining so we had a quieter day. We went to an outlet mall then explored Glenelg and the northern beaches.


Thursday 26th May. Fleurieu Peninsula.

We drove south and visited Noarlunga, Goolwa near the mouth of the Murray, (with a great paddle steamer and a concert by elderly ukulelists), Victor Harbor (where we walked over to Granite Island where there is a penguin colony), Yankalilla and Normanville. A really lovely day out!


Thursday 27th May. Adelaide City.

We explored the city centre in the pouring rain. We used the free bus to get to the city then saw the new War Memorials, the River Torrens, the Rundle Mall and downtown. We got pretty wet so headed back to the motel and the rain stopped!  Adelaide certainly has a lot of lovely parks around its city.



Friday 28th May.

We explored the massive Ikea store and then returned the rental car and flew back to Melbourne.  

Yet another great holiday driving around Australia! 

70th birthday cruise around the Top End of Australia.  February/March 2017

Cruising on the Radiance of the Seas.

8 February. To Sydney.

We flew from Wellington to Sydney on Qantas then caught the train into Circular Quay. It was just a short walk to the Australia Heritage Hotel in the Rocks (which was rocking with lots of people out on a summer evening). After a quick wander down to see the Harbour Bridge and Opera House we settled in, looking forward to our cruise tomorrow.


9 February. Departure from Sydney.

In the morning we went back down to the Opera House for some photos and videos and Sydney sure looked great on a clear sunny day. The harbour was dominated by the “Ovation of the Seas”, a much bigger ship than the “Radiance of the Seas” we are on. We had to get to our ship by tender because there was no room at either cruise ship/terminal. After freshening up at the hotel we walked to Darling Harbour and caught a ferry to the terminal, then the tender out to the “Radiance of the “Seas” – quite a rigmarole! Our cabin – 4502 – is spacious and comfortable. The ship has 2300 passengers on board and is quite luxurious. We had dinner in the Cascades restaurant before departing Sydney at 7.15pm.


10 February. At sea.

A great day at sea! In the morning we went to a watercolor painting class then played mini golf. After lunch at the Windjammer (nice) we had a rest then went to the gym and had a swim in the pool and spa. Dinner was formal at Cascades and really lovely. In the evening we went to a boys band show. It certainly didn’t take us long to get into the swing of things on the Radiance of the Seas!


11 February. Brisbane.

Our ship docked at the main Brisbane grain port, rather than at the Cruise Ship Port. We spent the day with our friends Mike and Gaye Carman (after they had worked out where our ship was!). We had a brief view of the Brisbane city centre and river but it was pretty hot (37 degrees). Back on board we had dinner at Cascades and then went to a Pianoman musical show.


12 February. At sea.

Another great day at sea. We sure know how to get the best out of all the various activities on the ship. After breakfast we took an aqua-aerobics class and then went to the gym so we got plenty of exercise! Then after lunch we lay in the sun, read and had a swim. Dinner was in the Windjammer and afterwards we sat and listened to the Rosaria Strings – beautiful violin and guitar music. This led to the evening show by Strings Alive – a truly amazing violin/guitar duo.


13 February. At sea.

A quieter day as we headed north through the Whitsundays towards Cairns. In the morning we went to a cruise presentation then after lunch we had a read, went to the gym and then had a swim. After dinner at the Cascades we went to Variety Show, featuring the ships orchestra, musicians, singers and dancers. Top quality.

14 February. At sea.

We were supposed to stop at Yorkey’s Knob, just out of Cairns and had booked an off-shore excursion to Cairns and Kuranda with a boat ride in the rainforest and a stop at the Aboriginal museum. Sadly, the sea was too rough for the tenders so there were a lot of disappointed people, especially those who came to see the Great Barrier Reef. We were not too disappointed as we had been to Cairns in 2002 and had already been to all of the attractions. Safety must come first. Instead, we had what is becoming a typical day at sea. We went to a presentation after breakfast then the gym, a swim and a read after lunch, then a quiz show and listening to music after dinner. The day ended with the best show we have ever been to on a cruise – by the amazing Strings Alive.

15 February. At sea.

Ross had a bit of a cold so we had had a quiet day. In the morning we had our AGM then in the afternoon we went to an interesting talk on the role of a pilot. (All ships of any size must have a local pilot on board when in these waters). Then we went to the gym, had a swim and read. Dinner was formal in the Cascades and then we went to the variety show ‘City of dreams’ in the theatre. Pretty average.

16 February. At sea.

We are really getting into the swing of it now! In the morning we went to a great lecture about Captain Cook. Then after lunch we had a rest then a walk and a swim.

17 February. Darwin.

After docking in Darwin we went ashore and took a bus tour to the famous Litchfield National Park. It was a long way to travel but worth it, as we had wanted to go there for a long time. First we saw the massive termite mounds, including the magnetic ones that are aligned north-south. Then it was on to the Wangi Falls, followed by lunch and then the Florence Falls. All very impressive. The tour included a look around Darwin where we saw the town centre and waterfront. (It was the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese - the same ones that bombed Pearl Harbor). Also we heard about the effects of Cyclone Tracey (Christmas day 1974) which flattened the city. Big trees and a much stricter building code now protect buildings in the city from cyclones and termites (which can even eat through concrete).



Back on board we moved staterooms. We had a problem in 4502 with noises and were kindly moved to 9246, a balcony stateroom - the first we have ever had.

18 February. At sea.

Another quiet day at sea. After breakfast we went to a presentation about Bali and the Australian ports we are yet to visit. After lunch we enjoyed our balcony then went to the gym and had a swim and a sunbathe. Dinner was at the Cascades, but we were a bit disappointed as the Windjammer had a much better seafood buffet.

 19 February. At sea.

We headed north west through the Timor Sea towards Bali. We did our normal walk, gym, read, sunbathe routine before having dinner at the Cascades. It is amazing how you can be out in the hot sun up here by the equator and not get sunburnt.

20 February. Bali, Indonesia.

We had a lovely day exploring some of the main sights of Bali, Indonesia, with our friends Roy and Jean Holmes. After being tendered in to Bali’s port, Benoa, we were picked up by our driver TBall for the day’s tour. TBall took us to a traditional Balinese house, (separate buildings for each room);  the 11th century Batuan temple;  the sacred Monkey forest and temple in the centre of Ubud; the Ubud rice fields, the Ubud Palace for the King (equivalent to the Mayor); the Ubud market and the Tegenungan waterfall. Hiring a driver for the day like this is a great way of seeing the sights. It would be impossible to do it on your own with the traffic, heat and Asian hustle and bustle. After dinner at the Windjammer we went for a walk then went to a excellent show by Don Windsor, a baritone, backed by the superb ship's orchestra.




21 February. At sea.

We headed south for the west coast of Australia. The sea was totally flat and the temperature rose noticeably.  In the morning we watched the 10 storey egg-dropping competition and in the afternoon entered a boat in the Battleboats competition and came second. During the final formal dinner at Cascades the staff sang happy birthday for Ross’s 70th birthday (why we are doing this trip). Then we watched a Tango show which had brilliant music, singing and dancing.


22 February. Port Hedland.

Port Hedland is a town of some 15,000 people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It sits on a natural harbour and is used for the exporting of iron ore. About 100 million tons of iron ore are shipped  from the port each year, the biggest tonnage of any port in Australia. We went by shuttle into the town but didn’t last long as it was so hot, and everything was covered in red dust. Back on the ship we enjoyed watching the amazing port operations in action and then a big thunderstorm. After dinner we watched the movie ‘Sully’ on the big screen around the pool, then went to a show by the illusionist Phil Cass.


23 February. At sea.

In the morning we learnt how to make animals from towels (a cruise ship tradition). Then in the afternoon we went to the gym, swam and read. After dinner we farewelled our friends Michael and Vicki, and Frank and Kaye, then went to a show by the Diamonds - three young singers.



24 February. Geraldton.

We had a lovely (but very hot) day in Geraldton, a port city of some 40,000 people, about 400km north of Perth. We walked to the main attractions: the HMAS Sydney memorial (645 people lost their lives when the Japanese sunk this ship in 1941); the Francis Xavier Cathedral; the lovely surf beaches and the Western Australia Museum. A highlight was meeting Fiona Davidson for lunch. We walked a long way in 40 degree heat and were proud of how we stood up to it. In the evening we had dinner and farewelled our friends Roy and Jean Holmes and then went to the farewell show featuring a juggler.



25 February. Freemantle.

We docked in Freemantle, had breakfast and left the ship smoothly. We then walked to the Australia Hotel, just over the road from where the ship berthed.

The cruise on the ‘Radiance of the Seas’ was excellent and a fitting way to celebrate Ross’ 70th birthday. Special highlights were:

  • The comfortable cabin (and being moved to a balcony cabin after problems with noises).
  • Outstanding food and being able to eat with lovely people.
  • Meeting special friends Roy and Jean Holmes.
  • Enjoying the sea days with plenty of exercise walking and at the gym;  swimming and reading.
  • Meeting the Carmans in Brisbane and Fiona Davidson in Geraldton.
  • Great visits to Litchfield National Park; Bali with TBall, Port Hedland and Geraldton.
  • Staying fit and healthy and being able to appreciate the luxury and privilege of cruising around the Top End of Australia together.


We took the hop on/hop off tram to see the main sights of Fremantle. The city really was humming, even though it was very hot. (The lead story on the news was how hot it was on the last day of summer: 39 degrees). After a rest and a look around the nearby shops and markets we took the free CAT bus to see more of Freo before settling in at our hotel (the first one built in Freo). In the evening we watched a programme on TV about a big cruise ship doing the same trip that we had just completed!

26 February. Freemantle to Perth.

In the morning we took the Swan River cruise from Freo to Perth. A great experience! There were lots of boats on the river and luxury houses living all along its banks. In Perth we walked up to the Goodearth Hotel. Fortunately the temperature was not as hot as other days. In the afternoon we caught the free bus downtown and explored the city centre. The malls and waterfront were alive with people – another very happening place.


27 February. Perth.

In the morning we took the excellent hop on hop off tour of Perth. We were really impressed with Kings Park and with all the development that has gone on in Perth since we were there about 20 years ago. It certainly is a lively city and looks lovely with the Swan River and all the beautiful parks, set off by the sunny weather. In the afternoon we walked down to the city centre and had a look around before catching the free bus back to the hotel and getting ourselves ready for our flight to Melbourne.



28 February. To Melbourne.

We took a taxi to the airport then flew Jetstar to Melbourne where we were picked up by Phil.

This was a wonderful holiday and a very fitting way to celebrate Ross’s 70th birthday.


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