Akuna Bay Cruising Club

THE GARDNERS' JOURNEY TO THE TOP END

Wednesday 30 September, 2009

On July 24 2009 Janet & Frank set out for the flight to Adelaide to start their three week journey to the Top End. Little did they know that they would embark on at least 12 different modes of transport during this holiday (see list at end of story).

After a short break in Adelaide they departed on the Ghan on their train trip to Darwin. This trip took just over two and a half days with a short stop in Alice Springs and Katherine Gorge.

The highlights of their four day stay in Darwin included a Sunset Dinner Cruise on Darwin Harbour, a day trip to Litchfield Park including a side trip to the Adelaide River to feed the saltwater crocodiles. They experienced the sounds and violence of Cyclone Tracy at the museum, visited the Mindil Market, ate in some pleasant surroundings and managed a swim at one of the waterfalls.

On Saturday, August 1, they boarded the Orion Expedition Cruise for an eleven day expedition into the Kimberly Region destined to arrive at Broome on Tuesday 11 August. The Orion is specially built for expedition cruising and is equipped with the latest in seafaring technology including large retractable stabilisers, sonar, radar and the highest classification of ice strengthening hull (before an ice breaker). Designed to accommodate just over 100 passengers with a crew of 75 she is voted by the Berlitz Guide to Cruising as one of the best expedition ships in the world.

The next 10 days were filled with adventure. In either the ship's tender or one of the 9 Zodiacs they examined gorges, looked at waterfalls, searched for crocodiles among the mangroves, searched for turtles and whales in the pristine water, and studied the abundance of wildlife especially the many types of birds to be found in the Kimberley. The interesting geological formations, colourful sunsets and remoteness of the area was stunning. The ship moved mostly at night as we travelled down the Kimberley Coast. The ship's German Captain Steffan was most engaging and entertaining. The Expedition team were so knowledgeable and their pre-excursion talks were most informative. Each day they captured on film the activities of the day and this was presented each evening in the Leda Lounge. The mainly Philipino crew were very well trained and performed their duties most efficiently.

The day would start with a hearty buffet breakfast mostly in the Delphinus Outdoor area with either usually a morning trip by tender or Zodiac. A buffet lunch was served in the Delphinus Outdoor area followed by an afternoon trip in the Zodiac (depending on which group you were allocated). Drinks were served at 6:45 pm for the viewing of the day's activities and the Fishing Report before dinner either in the Constellation Restaurant or a special night such as a Seafood, Mediterranean Buffet and Australian Barbeque on the Delphinus Deck. There was an abundance of food with tremendous variety. Entertainment consisted of trivia (our team was named Akuna Bay) in the afternoon and dancing and musical entertainment after dinner. On the last night the crew put on a variety performance for the passengers who were mostly Australian.

This trip was a great experience in a remote area of Australia. There is so much more to relate but space does not allow.

Janet & Frank spent the remaining four days in Broome. Here they were able to swim without fear of crocodiles or sharks. They explored Broome and heard tales of the old Pearling days in this part of the world.

The types of transport on this holiday were aeroplane, train, taxi, barge, schooner, bus, cruise ship, ship's tender, Zodiac, speedboat, Harley Bike and camel.

View Frank & Janet's photos on the photo gallery.