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


With 80 opera singers, 45 live musicians and Sydney Harbour with its magnificent backdrop of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and illuminated city buildings, Opera Australia’s Carmen is currently enthralling audiences each evening.  Seated outdoors in the specially constructed tiered grandstand, built on the shores of Sydney Harbour, alongside the Royal Botanic Gardens at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, this experience is like no other visit to the opera.

This is the third time I have seen Bizet’s Carmen, but this outdoor performance on the purpose built stage on Sydney Harbour, resembling a blood stained bullfighting ring, is certainly the most exciting.  The set features a neon lit outline of a bull as well as the giant 9 metre high red letters, spelling out CARMEN.  Two cranes lift props on and off the stage during the performance, but a highlight of the evening is watching enthralled as one of the cranes lowers the resplendent Toreador, Escamillo, onto the steeply raked stage from a great height.

Carmen is sung in French, with English subtitles projected onto the wall under the stage.

Two casts alternate at the performances, with Rinat Shaham and Milijana Nikolic starring as Carmen.

The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Brian Castles-Onion, sits under the stage in an orchestra pit which houses 45 musicians at each performance.

The colourful costumes and other special production surprises add to the wow factor that the audience will experience.  Even those who are not opera devotees should enjoy this performance.

I was worried during the evening that one of cast members would fall off the stage into the water, as they seemed to get so close to the edge, but this never happened.

This exciting, not to be missed production of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: Carmen will finish its all too short season on Sunday, 14 April 2013.   Sandra Tiltman

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