Queen Mary 2 Circumnavigates Australia – Our Adventure

When the Cunard 2014  World Cruise schedule was published some 18 months ago my wife and I took a fancy to a segment of Queen Mary 2’s itinerary that circumnavigated Australia. We have on many occasions visited Australia’s Eastern Seaboard together but had not ventured further afield. With a view to extending our trip in both Australia and Singapore we booked our flights twelve months prior to the voyage and sat back waiting for the ‘right’ opportunity to make our Cunard booking.

That opportunity came when I crossed the Atlantic on QM2 in November and was keen to link a Future Onboard  Deposit to the booking in order to maximise On Board Credit.

Shock Horror! Three months prior to the cruise there was not a single balcony stateroom available for sale. The ship was virtually fully booked and all that remained was a very small selection of ‘Inside’ staterooms which, considering this was a 23 night voyage, were not really our cup of tea.

Following a couple of weeks of discussion and a few further attempts at checking availability we took the decision to make a variation on our  initial plan.  We decided to track the ship from port to port with the exception of her call to Bali and the Whitsunday Islands which we had only visited some two years previously…

We had arrived in Sydney a few days in advance of QM2 so took the opportunity to explore Sydney and its environs, including a full day excursion to the Blue Mountains and the famous ‘Three Sisters’ rock formation…

 

Meanwhile, on the day of her arrival every opportunity was taken to capture every angle…

 

 

including  climbing one of the Sydney Bridge Pylons to take in this view of Sydney Harbour

 

 

The next port of call after Sydney was Brisbane where we were to spend four nights This proved possibly the least easy port to photograph our favourite ship,  due to the fact her berth was so far away from the city centre – indeed, it was almost at the entrance to the Brisbane River. Needless to say a quick car hire job sufficed which not only got us to Myrtletown to see the ship but also gave us a glimpse of The Sunshine Coast.  Anyway, here she is berthed at the Grain Terminal…

 

 

Brisbane is Australia’s third most populous city and is ideally situated alongside the Brisbane River…

 

It is a sunny, sophisticated city laying on the winding and meandering Brisbane River.  Lush riverside walks, botanic gardens and a myriad of cultural institutions abound while, in addition,  a vibrant inner-city centre made our visit to Brisbane a big hit.  This also proved to be a city with serious visitor attractions, first-class wining and  dining and a very tourist friendly transport system. Certainly a place that will feature soon in one of my ‘One way to do’ series.

In keeping with our cruise related itinerary we again did a pre-booked excursion. (For the sake of the blog we looked upon them as ship’s excursions.)  Our Brisbane choice was a boat cruise to the Moreton Bay island of St. Helena, a heritage listed island that, in the 19th century, became a convict prison and Queensland’s first penal settlement…

 

Our cruise and guided tour were booked through  http://www.brisbanecruises.com.au/st-helena and we would have no trouble in recommending this company.

Overall we were very impressed with Brisbane and it is such a shame that cruise ships cannot access the city any closer. Still not to be missed though.

Next on our itinerary was Australia’s northern city Darwin for five nights. Again we arrived ahead of QM2 and had ample time here to see most of what was on offer before the ship’s arrival.

As for  observing the Queen Mary 2,  Darwin was the ideal place. We had done a recce the night prior to her arrival and discovered an excellent seafood restaurant right at the end of the adjacent pier to where  QM2 would be berthed. This is it viewed from QM2 the next day when we had been invited on board…

 

How amazingly close is that?

 

Darwin’s balmy weather and melting pot of food and cultures is the city’s tourism secret. It’s dramatic history – from World War II air raids to Cyclone Tracey – is displayed in the museums and galleries that abound. It has a vibrant, tropical  and  youthful energy that we found hard to resist and we certainly entered into the spirit!  Indeed, on one day we went native and hired pedal cycles, venturing as far as East Point, home of Darwin’s Military Museum…

 

 

More about Darwin in a future ‘One Way to do’ series.

Our ‘ships’ excursion from Darwin was a full day tour to the Northern Territories ‘Litchfield National Park’ where, amongst other things,  we were amazed by the size of the Cathedral termite mounds…

 

 

Our tour to Litchfield National Park was courtesy of     http://www.darwindaytours.com.au/ddt3.php and again proved excellent value for money.

 

All too soon it was time to move on and our next five day ort of call was Perth, Western Australia

 

 

 

Our ‘ship’s excursion’ from Perth took us on yet another boat trip: this time to the offshore island of Rottnest. Once again we hired bikes – you can just make them out on the stern of the hydrofoil – and we made our way around this fascinating island which had so many beautiful idyllic bays…

 

Rottnest is also the indigenous home of the Quokka – which we felt so fortunate to capture on camera (see above added to the collage)

 

Queen Mary 2 was berthed in Fremantle on Thursday March 6th so we made that a full day discovery of  Fremantle before a planned witness of  her sailaway…

 

 

Of all the sailaway events  we did witness on this ‘adventure’ Fremantle proved to be not just the best but also, for us, the most emotional – we wanted to be on her…

 

It was the big occasion. QM2 had been berthed next to P&O’s Arcadia and, even at the distance we were from them at the harbour breakwater entrance, the party music from both ships reverberated everywhere. As she reached us at the end of the breakwater the sound of Rod Stewart’s ‘We Are Sailing’ almost brought a tear to our eyes.

 

The next day we flew to Adelaide. A city with  a well planned grid system for easy navigation and  with an outstanding  cosmopolitan feel, it is well blessed with an excellent mix of  historical buildings and even more modern architectural gems. It also boasts one of the most diverse botanical gardens,  a 125-acre public garden at the north-east corner of the Adelaide city centre and a stones throw from the equally famous Ayers House Museum…

 

Our ‘ships excursion’ from Adelaide was a ‘no brainer’. Prior research had revealed that Adelaide sits but a short distance from the Barossa Valley, so we pre-booked a full day Barossa and Hahndorf Wine Experience  with …http://www.adelaidesightseeing.com.au/tours/barossa-and-hahndorf-wine-experience.

 

The following day we were at Port Adelaide in our hire car to witness the arrival of Queen Mary 2…

 

 

An all too brief meeting with our favourite Queen here because this was also the day we set off on our road journey along the Great Ocean Road towards  our final port of call, Melbourne.

The Great Ocean Road is an amazing drive and we passed many interesting features, multiple National Parks and some interesting townships, none more so than Kingston, which sports this rather unique restaurant advertisement…

 

We had pre-booked accommodation near the 12 Apostles at a place called Pebble Point,  an exclusive bush retreat nestled behind the cliff tops and rock formations of the world famous Twelve Apostles…       http://www.pebblepoint.com.au/accommodation.html

Our accommodation was one of five spacious luxury tents that  are conveniently situated at the end of the Great Ocean Walk…

 

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…and very convenient for our first serial of the following day, a pre-booked helicopter flight over the 12 Apostles and the Bay of Islands…

 

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all of which can be watched as it happened on the following ‘Youtube’  links…

 

 

 

 

We also took the opportunity to view the major formations from a closer standpoint, The Grotto

 

 

…and London Bridge

 

At this juncture I must add a heartfelt thank you to an American Lady who came to our rescue this morning. Those who have watched the second part of the helicopter video will have detected that when coming in to land we overflew our somewhat disabled hire vehicle. A replacement was not due till much later in the day and having met Sarah she kindly offered not only to chauffeur us around the remaining sites but also, as she was heading in that direction, take us on to Melbourne. You were very kind Sarah and it was a great  pleasure to meet you …

 

And so our final destination port was reached, Melbourne

 

 

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…where we enjoyed three full days exploring this amazing city, another great subject for my  ‘One Way to Do’ series.

 

We also paid homage, for the last time on this adventure, to the iconic ship that had given us the inspiration for this trip.

And where better to say a temporary farewell to Cunard’s iconic flagship than from Princes Pier, a 580 metre long historic pier on Port Phillip, in Port Melbourne.  From completion in 1915 until 1969 it was also a major arrival point for new migrants, particularly during the post-war period.

 

 

Our visit to Melbourne also coincided with my wife Barbara’s birthday. As lovers of seafood where else should I take her than the so billed Best Romantic, Seafood, Waterfront Restaurant in Melbourne, Sails on the Bay…

http://sailsonthebay.com.au/

 

The following day we flew back to Sydney and transferred to our flight to Singapore for a three night stopover and perhaps the last occasion for a little Cunard promotion atop another hospitality icon…

 

But that’s another story.

5 responses to “Queen Mary 2 Circumnavigates Australia – Our Adventure

  1. Fantastic photos Richard, Barbara you look amazing! Look forward to hearing from you when you get back to Solent Towers!

  2. Wow a brilliant way to see parts of Australia, what an adventure. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. Sorry for a very late reply but I missed this blog as we were on QE world cruise. Fabulous as ever and worth the wait. Brought back good memories of our 2012 QM2 world voyage around Australia. Super photos and you had a great time as well. Thanks you for posting .
    Maggiemou.

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