Circular Quay at night

A snapshot of Sydney harbour on our way to a train station after seeing Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Maids.

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After High Tea at Gunners’ Barracks

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Cruising Day 1

On the 26th September I boarded a P&O cruise ship. The itinerary included New Caledonia, Port Vila, Lifou, Mystery Island and the Isle of Pines. My friends had thoroughly enjoyed their previous cruise. I was a little more sceptical.  Today Tonight had provided a glowing advertisement of the Pacific Jewel to its audiences. I generally find that taking the opposite view of current affair programs is a sensible approach to life. For example, I think taxi drivers on a whole do a good job. I try not to misrepresent people I’ve never met (like immigrants and people on welfare). I am not interested in diets or shopping and I think Media Watch, libel laws and accountability are fine ideas. What could a business who targeted Today Tonight viewers possibly offer me? Two thousand people drinking, partying and participating in group activities in a confined space? If only pyramids could float.

It could be an upside-down floating pyramid if you squint really hard

I joined my friends at Hickson Road wharf in Sydney, dreaming of a stress free holiday with cocktails and tropical islands.We were effeciently herded through large temporary shelters that evoked a certain post apocalyptic atmosphere, through check in, identity photographs, customs and onto the cruise ship.

First we stopped at the Plantation restaurant for a belated buffet lunch. There was a lot of food that reflected its mass production and cheap, frozen ingredients. Knowing that this was my future breakfast and lunch for the next nine days made me sad.

We made our way to the Sailaway Party on the top deck. Waiters handed out cocktails and beer. The MC required that the people on deck respond to her question “Are you ready to party?!” positively, loudly and in unision. On stage, entertainers dressed in Australian flag shorts land skirts sung a medley of Australiana songs. Vanessa Amarossi, Men at Work, Christine Anu, Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, Waltzing Matilda. There was a mistimed countdown to pass under the Harbour Bridge. One of the circus performers waved an Australian flag. As we sailed past the Opera House, people happily waved to one another – ship to shore. Behind us, some individuals tried to raise an ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi” but lost enthusiasm after two rounds. The Governor Bligh harbour master guided us out of the harbour and the sun began to set. The jingoistic performance petered out and people begun to drift back inside the ship.

Exploration of the ship ensued. Today Tonight had not lied. I was on some kind of bogan-boat – a floating amalgam of a live-in RSL and Westfield. I booked myself into an overpriced massage to get over the shock.

More from Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island and the Bienalle Festival

On the last day of the Bienalle arts festival in Sydney, I caught the free ferry over to Cockatoo Island. The island has changed a lot since my last visit in  2008. There have been some interesting choices made regarding the historical values of the island and their integrity in order to make the island a functional venue. Quibbling aside, it was a beautiful sunny day and many people were out enjoying their weekend.

Venue 505

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Thanks J. for having your birthday party at Venue 505. So good to have small venue music gigs with good food, good music and great company.

Rain clouds over Sydney

The view from our picnic at Balls Head.

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