December 2, 2013

Elizabeth Cook 009

If you notice a new shiny red catamaran around Sydney Harbour, its Elizabeth Cook, the latest vessel to join Captain Cook Cruises Sydney Harbour Fleet. Named after Captain James Cook’s wife, she is SeaLink Travel Group’s new $2.6 million state of the art catamaran and first true multi-purpose boat, allowing her to operate in all corners of Sydney Harbour.

Lucy Hughes Turnbull, Chair – The Committee for Sydney, officially launched Elizabeth Cook recently in the traditional maritime way, breaking a champagne bottle across the bow, after a blessing by Father Dooley.

Designed in Sydney by Incat Crowther and built in Tasmania by Richardson Devine Marine, this new generation 24metre Rocket catamaran was designed to be eco-friendly and more fuel efficient, equipped with the latest technologies that will help reduce her carbon footprint.

Featuring two levels, the main passenger cabin has seats for 116 passengers with a further 31 seats located on the lower outside deck, while the open upper deck seats 51. There is also ample space for passengers to stand and view the sights. Elizabeth Cook will operate as a ferry, transfer service and host sightseeing cruises, especially the popular Hop On Hop Off service almost immediately. She will also be used to host charters and corporate events.

Managing Director, SeaLink Travel Group, Jeff Ellison said the company was very excited to have built a new vessel for Sydney Harbour. “We believe this is a prototype for the future. As well as being eco-friendly and cost efficient Elizabeth Cook offers a new level of comfort including large windows, a professional marine interior and a 360-degree viewing sundeck” Mr Ellison said.

Sandra Tiltman 



April 8, 2013

Pentecost Jump 1-VAN106

Located in the South Pacific Ocean and just 3.5 hours flying time from Sydney is the Republic of Vanuatu, an island nation formerly known as the New Hebrides. Captain James Cook named the islands during his second voyage of discovery and Europeans began settling there in the 18th century.  Vanuatu’s two largest towns are Port Vila on the island of Efate, which is also Vanuatu’s capital and Luganville on Espiritu Santo. 

Pentecost Jump 2Unlike anything you have seen before, bungy jumping is something that the locals on Pentecost Island do with a difference.   Nagol, meaning “land diving”, involves local men and boys jumping from a man made tower with a vine secured around their legs.  The aim is to touch the ground with their shoulders.  This annual ritual needs to be seen to be believed and can be witnessed between April and June each year on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Nagol goes back nearly 15 centuries, long before the world’s first commercial bungy operation opened in 1988.  Each April, when the first yam crop is ready for harvest, the people on Pentecost Island begin building towers from branches, vines and tree trunks.  It takes five weeks to construct a suitable 20-30 metre tower.

Local men carefully select a vine, knowing that a few centimetres can make all the difference.  After tying the vine to their legs, they dive headfirst from the tower platform at 72km per hour, aiming to land with their head curled under so that just their shoulders touch the ground.  It is believed that this feat will make the ground fertile for the following year.

Land diving is reserved for the locals but it’s worth travelling to Pentecost Island to join with the entire village as they gather to sing and dance while watching the tribal daredevils tempt fate.  This awe-inspiring ceremony is something that you will never forget and well worth a visit.

Pentecost Island also offers visitors pristine beaches, reefs, untouched forests, mountains and jungles as well as exotic wildlife.

Sandra Tiltman    

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March 25, 2013

QM 800w

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 was berthed at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal on Tuesday morning, March 19.  The surrounding area in the historic Rocks was buzzing with activity.  Lines of taxis were waiting to transport the disembarking passengers, delivery trucks unloading supplies for the next voyage plus the many excited Sydneysiders who had just come down to see this famous ship.

Docking facilities at the Terminal have recently been lengthened to accommodate this giant Queen, which previously could only dock at the near by Garden Island Naval Base.  I am sure the Base’s Admiral is very happy about not having to move his naval vessels to make way for the Queens.

Queen Mary 2’s arrival in Sydney from her historic New Zealand circumnavigation marked the return of some items from the State Library of NSW’s renowned Captain James Cook collection.  The items, which had been on display in the liner’s library during the twelve night voyage, included personal possessions which the master navigator had with him on his 18th century voyages to New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Items included Cook’s tea caddy and a spoon, also signed 1768 correspondence about his preparation for the first New Zealand voyage on Endeavour and an excerpt from Cook’s handwritten draft journal from his first voyage to New Zealand, including his account of Endeavour’s arrival at Poverty Bay and a violent first encounter with Maori.

This is the second time the State Library of NSW has entrusted Queen Mary 2 with items from its prized collections.  In 2012, Queen Mary 2 carried Matthew Flinders’ historic journals and map atlas from his circumnavigation of Australia on the liner’s own maiden circumnavigation of the country.

Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said the Cook items had been a highlight for the Australian and New Zealand guests onboard during the historic voyage.

“We’re so grateful to the Library for allowing Queen Mary 2 to take these Captain Cook possessions on a similar journey to his 18th century exploration of New Zealand, albeit under vastly different circumstances this time,” Ms Sherry said.

Queen Mary 2’s circumnavigation included a maiden visit to Milford Sound in New Zealand’s stunning World Heritage listed Fiordland National Park, where she made history on becoming the largest ship to visit.

Sandra Tiltman      Photo:  John Pond

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