February 17th
Our final day in Freo/Perth, Australia

I had a wonderful night’s sleep; & the fact that I didn’t have to set an alarm this morning made it all that much better.  With an afternoon tour, I had the morning to do as I pleased.  I was out the door at 9:15; had the usual ‘brekkie’.  It was pretty quiet in there today; most everyone was already off the ship already.  Che came in for a quick breakfast; & we sat for a while & talked about her cat ‘children’. 

Afterwards I went to see Jessie at the Computer Center, hoping he might have some ideas about my photos coming off the camera in ‘read only’ format (as in, they can’t be edited without converting the format first).  He’s not sure why this is happening; & he suggest I ask the photographers (which I did later with no resolution to the problem).  He gave me some tips for changing the format for large batches of photos, rather than the way I had been doing it (one at a time).

Perth without the smokey haze.

This afternoon’s tour was one that I had been really looking forward to.  It was the wildlife & Swan Valley wines tour (PER-DW) which departed at 12:45.  There were 2 buses for this tour.  When I got on bus #8, it was pretty full.  So, I got off that bus & got on #9….the smartest decision I was to make all day.  Bus #9 was a double decker, brand spankin’ new; with an outstanding sound system.  There were only 24 of us on the entire bus.  We had a wonderful guide (Jane) & a darling driver (Kerry).  Debbie McAllister (Asst. Shore Excursion Mgr.) escorted.  I got the next to the last row to myself; & Debbie sat behind me.

It was another perfect day; dark blue skies with lots of wispy, high cirrus clouds.  The temps were in the upper 80’s; & there was a nice breeze.  We left the dock & went  the opposite direction from yesterday’s tour.  We did drive through Cottesloe again; but on the highway instead of the scenic beach road.  This route carried us through several small communities that are considered a part of western Perth.  Lots of interesting scenery was passing by the bus windows; & we were seeing things from the upper deck that I doubt those on the lower deck could see from their vantage point.  You had to climb up & down some steep stairs to get up there; but the effort was worth it.

After about an hour’s drive, we arrived in the town of Guildford, where we visited the Sandalford Winery.  This part of Australia is known for great wines; & Sandalford is one of many small wineries in the Swan Valley region.  It seemed like all you saw for the last 10 miles or so was acres & acres of grapes.  First thing I noticed when we walked in a side entrance……a canvas covered porch which served as a dining room.  Around the perimeter a mister was ‘spritzing’ an aromatic mist.  I’ve seen this ‘misting’ done in some of the outdoor restaurants in south FL as a way of keeping the temperature down; but I’ve never noticed a scent to it.  I’m wondering if there was something to this……as in a way to accentuate the senses for wine tasting???  Does anybody know?


Our group was lead to a courtyard area where a table had been set up with cheeses, 7 bottles of wine, bottles of ice water & lots of wine glasses.  A gentleman explained the 7 wines that were available for sampling; & suggested that you taste them in the order that they were laid out on the table.  He then left; & we were able to pour what we wanted from whichever bottle struck our fancy.  I took a few photos; but had no real interest in the wine.  What I was interested in was the blue sky & those incredible clouds.  As we were getting off the bus I kept seeing Kodak moments everywhere; & the ‘Olympics’ photo competition is always on my mind.

I left the group & went outside.  I had envisioned squatting down under the grape vines & shooting up through them to the sky.  But by the time I got out there, those clouds had gone in the wrong direction.  I shot a lot; but couldn’t compose what I had seen in my mind’s eye a half hour earlier.  Timing is everything.  When we were leaving, the guide told us that everyone is concerned about the smoke from the brush fires this past week.  It’s nearly picking season, & the smoke could damage the grapes before they’re picked.

Another half hour’s drive brought us to the Caversham Wildlife Park, which is located inside the much larger Whiteman Park.  This is really a cool place; & we were assigned an escort, Nate.  This young guy was full of spunk, witty as all get out & a textbook example of a pint size “Crocodile Dundee”.  He knew we were on a tight schedule; & he did his best to keep us in a group (which wasn’t easy).  We meandered through walkways, some shaded areas so it wasn’t too hot.

The very first wildlife contact was with the red & grey kangaroos.  We entered through a gate & right into their area.  Kangaroos were hopping around or lounging in the shade.  Some of them zonked out, sound asleep.  They looked dead except for their shallow breathing.  They must be so used to humans, that we didn’t bother their nap time at all.

Debbie & I were enamored with this one red kangaroo that lay down so we could pet her.  She had a baby in her pouch.  All we could see of it was the tip of its tail & a bit of its leg.  Some people were given food so they could feed them.  It was surreal to just be surrounded by this many of them.

Next we walked over to a pavilion like area where one of the handlers had brought out this huge wombat.  It was just a big blob of fur, lying there on its back, spread eagled on this guy’s lap.  This girl was huge & old; & we’re told that once they reach a certain age they do not like being around humans.  But this gal was the exception.  She didn’t seem to mind the attention; but we were warned not to touch her anywhere except her back legs.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell if she was asleep or just lazy.  I don’t think I ever saw her move on her own; she only moved when the handler changed positions.  It was quite funny actually.

We walked past a large fenced area that had emus.  They have a nasty disposition; & I was pretty daring trying to put my telephoto lens through the fence wire to get some close shots.  They made a beeline over towards me; & would have been happy to peck the glass out of my new camera lens.  I was able to stay one step ahead of those buggers.

Next we visited the dingoes.  They are beautiful wolf-like animals; & Nate told us that he is the only handler that has contact with them.

We briefly looked in on some red fox, one reptile & some beautiful birds.

Bobtail shingleback lizard 


And last; but certainly not least…..koalas.  They have a small fenced in area where they bring groups of koalas & place them on eucalyptus tree trunks.  We were allowed to enter through a gate to touch & photograph them.  Nate was the only person allowed to hold one; & he told us that by law they can only be in direct contact with humans 30 mins. a day.  The one he was holding was a pretty big one; & she had a death grip on his shirt with those huge claws.  I kept looking for signs of blood coming through his shirt; he must have pretty thick skin.  Nate had to literally drag us all out of there.  In my opinion, the Caversham Park is the perfect setting to interact with these species.  Their areas are maintained as if they were living in the wild.  And then there were zones where they could be comfortable in their environment; but still have human interaction.  I think it was a win-win for us & them.

The ride back to the ship took another 40 mins. or so.  By now it was rush hour; & traffic was an issue.  We came back by the way of Cottesloe Beach Road, where the skies were filled with these huge kites.  It’s very windy along that stretch of beach on the Indian Ocean; & it’s a very popular kite flying area.

All aboard was 5:30 to be ready to sail at 6.  Since I had spent some big money on the camera, I was able to take advantage of the tourist customs tax refund.  But in order to get a refund, I had to see the custom’s people on the pier before I reboarded.  There was a long security long; & the custom’s people were packing up their computers to leave.  This nice man (John McKinnon, who I later realized was a WC Passenger traveling with his Mom), grabbed my hand & pushed his way around the people in line, shouting ‘emergency, emergency’.  It was embarrassing, but nobody balked.  Because of his intervention, I was able to get almost $60 refunded to my credit card.  Thank you, Mr. nice man, whoever you are.

Since I didn’t have lunch, I was getting hungry.  So, I headed up to the Lido deck with the intention of having a burger or something from the Trident Grill.  They had closed early; & the area was cordoned off for a special evening event just for the full world cruisers (another one of those “us” & “them” moments, she says jokingly).  I saw a sign that said the evening was called ‘Pan A Mania’ (catchy, huh).  I could tell the décor looked right out of the 70’s; & there were a few women walking around in vintage Pan Am uniforms.  It looked like it was going to be lots of fun.  Although I didn’t understand what it all meant at the time, I have since heard all about it & learned it was a big success.

There were a few visitors still onboard; & we didn’t sail right at 6.  I took the camera out on the aft deck to shoot some photos.  It was beginning to get a little chilly; but the late afternoon sun was beautiful.  I was able to get a shot of the odd shaped Maritime Museum on the way out of the harbour.  There were people out on the jetty on both sides of the ship waving us goodbye.  It was a wonderful 2 days; & I was sad to be leaving there.

I was really hungry by 6:45; so I placed my dinner order early.  Liz brought it about 7:15.  I started with an appetizer of butter braised lobster with sweet corn custard & tomato confit.  Excellent!

This was followed by an appetizer portion of tonight’s pasta special; tagliatelle with half wild mushroom sauce & half Bolognese sauce.  Also very good.

My entrée was pan fried Dover sole with roasted potatoes & steamed vegetables.  The fish was cooked perfectly, flaky & WHOLE.  This is one of the ‘ah-ha’ moments when you say…..if I was in the dining room the waiter would be deboning this fish.  It was a challenge; but I managed.  And the advantage of doing this in your cabin???  If you couldn’t pull all the ‘meat’ off the bone with your fork, you could always suck it off the bone.  (Did I really just say that?)  It was a great meal.

I did a little computer work; but got to bed early so I could read.  It was nice being back at sea & rocked to sleep.  We have 3 (hopefully) relaxing days at sea; & the real FUN begins.  Port after port, after port………

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