The White Rajah


James Brooke (29th April 1803 – 11 June 1868)

The picture is from a painting by Sir Francis Grant in 1847

Sarawak, the name brings forth ideas of head hunters and ‘daring do’ from comics that I read in the 1950’s.

Little did I know that one day I would sail up the Sarawak River to the town of Kuching on the island of Borneo.

Sarawak had been James Brooke’s & his descendants fiefdom since about 1841 – until . .

In April 1942 the Japanese captured Sarawak, and for three years they ran the place as part of the Empire of Japan.

The Japanese surrender to the Australians in 1945, and Sarawak became a British Colony.

In May 1961 the PM of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, put forward a plan for a greater Malaysia, which included Singapore, Sarawak,  Sabah & Brunei. In 1962 eighty percent of the population of Sarawak & Sabah voted to join Malaya to create Malaysia, along with Singapore.

Indonesia and the Philippines didn’t like the creation of Malaysia. So Indonesia  encouraged discontent with the communists of Sarawak and trained them in military tactics, and also supplied armed ‘volunteers’ to causes problems for Sarawak and the newly created country of Malaysia.

The fighting began in 1963 with infiltration forces from Indonesia in to Sarawak. By this time the British were involved in support of Malaysia, who had only gained independence from Britain a few years earlier in 1957.

Later Australia & New Zealand became involved in support of Malaysia.

Knowing little of the details that I know now, I flew in to Singapore to join LST (Landing ship tank) Frederick Clover in April 1966. The company, British India Steam Navigation Co, held the contract to man various LSTs based in Singapore, Malta, Aden etc and I’d drawn the straw for Frederick Clover, based in Singapore.

If you wish to see other photographs of the LST and why I fired a machine gun click on the highlighted letters.

CloverFrederick Clover, alongside in Singapore, her bows open to accept military cargo for Borneo. The photo is old and not very clear.

meAs you see she was an old ship, built in 1945. The captain’s chair had to be lashed down to make sure we didn’t lose it in a strong wind. My hair isn’t moving because our top speed was 10 knots . . . .

3rd mateAt least we had a compass. Although we could have found our way to Borneo using the echo sounder by following the empty beer cans from our previous trips. At that time being Green meant you were sea sick, not environmentally aware.

TroopsWhile we were alongside in Kuching the ‘Auby’ moored astern of us. She was to take a Gurkha regiment back to Singapore. The Auby was a cargo ship of about 1700 tons , with facilities for a few passengers in the for’d accommodation. I can only assume the soldiers traveled as ‘deck cargo’. The Auby carried about 31,000 troops in and out of Singapore during the ‘confrontation’. The picture is not all that clear but the troops can be seen formed up on the quay.

In 2011, Maureen & I attended a reunion in Singapore of cadets from HMS Conway Training College, so after the reunion I thought it would be an ideal time to take Maureen to Kuching and a spot of ‘I remember when’ for me.


While in Kuching we did a river cruise in a small boat, which allowed me to photograph the quay, (see above), which I think is the same one in the photographs showing the Gurkha troops.

IMGP3782r  Our boatman and his boat that we used.

We stayed at the Pullman Hotel, which overlooked the town.


IMGP3766rThis one shows the Sarawak River

Kuching is also known as Cat City – there are a number of anecdotes as to why Kuching got its name. It used to be called Sarawak until James Brooke arrived by sea and asked his guide the name of the place, while pointing to the small town. The local guide thinking that James was pointing at a cat, answered ‘Kuching’, which is the Malay word for cat i.e ‘kucing’.  Against this story being true is that the local Malays who live in Kuching call a cat a ‘pusak’

Another story is that the town is named after a river called Sungai Kuching, which means Cat River. Another idea is that it is named after mata kucing, which is a fruit grown in Malaysia, Indonesia and the northern parts of Australia. The name means Cats Eye.


The mata kucing fruit looks like a lychee.

So with a name like ‘Cat’, Kuching turned itself in to a tourist attraction by becoming the Cat City.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe above cat statues are outside our favourite restaurant.

IMGP3786rcThe James Brooke on the water front.

IMGP3955rIt is also a bar, and you do not have to order food.



Of course we ordered lunch – Laksa – beautiful, and for me a cold beer helped it down.


The following year we returned to Kuching with two other couples, and it wasn’t a hardship to revisit many places again.
During one evening in the James Brooke restaurant I overheard an accent that I recognised – it was a Liverpool accent. The four men having their evening meal worked as contractors for an aircraft company and flew around the world fixing problems. Because Maureen originated in Liverpool it didn’t take long for us to get chatting.

I asked one fellow where he lived on Merseyside and he told me Birkenhead. I mentioned that I came from Lower Tranmere in Birkenhead, and we then swapped details of the exact area. It turned out that he knew where my childhood street was, because he lived quite close.

The following night we met him again and he said that he had phoned his father in the UK, who was retired and still living in Lower Tranmere, and told him of meeting me. It turns out that his father was our milkman, and he used to deliver milk to my home when I was a child. Talk about a small world.

During my remember when holiday I couldn’t understand why the river never dropped as the tide turned.

FrederickCloverDressed overall for the last voyage to Singapore before the ship would be sold.

Generous meals, as the guest of various army units, helped to break the boredom of being in an out of the way port. We were not there to make a profit through trade, but in support of our own troops, a huge difference.

When we heard that the ship was to be sold on our return to Singapore, we decided to have a farewell dinner along with a number of army officers. Tables were booked at the local Chinese restaurant and all the ship’s officers left the ship, leaving just a watchman. It was a quiet night with little river traffic so we felt a single watchman was enough. The majority of the crew were allowed shore leave, because they would soon be out of work once we reached Singapore.
The evening went well until we returned to the ship and found her lying at a strange angle. What had happened was that the tide had gone out and the river had dropped causing the ship to settle in the mud. Being flat bottomed she would have settled upright if the watchman had slackened off the mooring lines – he’d not done so, and Frederick Clover was lying with a very large list away from the wharf – her mooring lines were bar tight with the strain.
There was little that we could do but wait for the tide to turn and raise her back to normal, which fortunately is what happened.

So during our holiday I asked why I hadn’t seen the river drop as the tide went out – it was all down to a barrage that had been built at the mouth of the river in the late 90’s, which controlled the flow of the river. The gates would be opened each Friday afternoon to flush out any rubbish etc.


They do have the facility to allow small fishing boats to enter the river – which means that they must have a lock system.

At least I wasn’t going mad, because I was sure that the river would drop as the tide changed.

WhiteIf you are interested in Sarawak and the island of Borneo, but don’t wish to read a great tome, try the above book, which is an easy and interesting read.

The wife of the third Rajah, Sylvia Brooke,  who wrote her own autobiography in 1970, also wrote a synopsis of the life of James Brooke, which was bought by Warner Brothers film studio.
Errol Flynn wanted to play James Brooke, but in the script that he wrote, after reading the synopsis, he had James Brooke arriving in Borneo with a young woman dressed as a boy.
Sylvia Brooke refused to allow Flynn’s story to go any further, because there wasn’t any ‘love interest’ when Brooke arrived in Borneo. According to Sylvia Brooke James Brooke was the first white man to set foot in Borneo – which I find hard to believe.

Finally when Somerset Maugham visited Sarawak, it was suggested that James Brooke’s life would make a good film, but Somerset Maugham said, no it wouldn’t, because there wasn’t any love interest.

James Brooke’s life was full of love, he inspired love and felt love, so perhaps it is time for the right actor to take up the challenge and recreate The White Rajah.

Calcutta & Burmah Steam Nav Co

I China-Nav-British-India-Cape-of-Good-Hope

The Calcutta & Burmah Steam Navigation Company was registered in Glasgow in 1856. One of the first ships of the company  was Cape of Good Hope, built in 1853, (420 gross tons). She was a steamer, but also rigged as a brig. At 190 feet long, she still managed ninety days from Southampton to Calcutta to begin her carrier as a mail ship.

The Company had the contract from the Indian Government (nominally the East India Company, which governed India & Burmah) to run a schedule mail service between Calcutta and Rangoon. It became a success and the following year the Company was called upon to carry troops from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in support of the Government during the Indian Mutiny.

The Company could see a future in the carrying of troops, supplies and horses on behalf of the Government, so additional ships where bought.
In 1862 they changed the name of the Company to British India Steam Navigation Company.


Over the following years the BI, as it became to be known, grew to be one of the largest shipping companies in the world. By 1922 it had grown to 158 ships, which at that time was the largest merchant fleet in the world.

At the outbreak of WW2 they had 105 ships, and lost 51 during the war including one in which my father sailed (fortunately he survived). The Company also managed a further 71 vessels, and sixteen of those were lost.

The Company celebrated its hundredth anniversary in 1956 by launching their latest troop ship Nevasa.(20,527 gt)


Nevasa – from the painting by Robert Lloyd

In 1962 I joined the Company, and after the appropriate sea time and passing my exams I was appointed Third Mate in the Bankura (6,793 gt)


In 1967, while serving in the Bankura we sailed from Calcutta to Rangoon – as the port was still called then, in the country of Burma (the ‘h’ had been dropped). The picture below is the front cover of the ID card issued by the Burmese authorities at that time, and at the bottom is the inside.

Burma ID card

ID Burma 2We were alongside for two days, one hundred and eleven years after the first BI ship, the Cape of Good Hope, called in to Rangoon.

I liked Rangoon, but it would be forty five years before I returned – but this time on holiday in 2012, just before the country changed and became more democratic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stayed at the Traders Hotel – the white building on the right. On the left is Scott’s Market, now called Bogyoke Market but everyone we spoke to referred to it as Scott’s.


IMGP4392rInside the market – gold, jade, silver what ever you wished. Ground floor.


Higher up the less expensive items were for sale.


Near Scott’s Market is Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, built in 1894, which is the oldest colonial cathedral in Myanmar (Burma).

Our hotel was inexpensive, so we stayed on the Club Floor – I was surprised at how ‘cheap’ it was. I did check the rates recently (the hotel has changed its name) and there is no way that we could afford to stay there – never mind staying on the Club Floor!

When we came to pay they had the facility to accept credit cards, but not in the normal way – the details had to go through Singapore – I think because the Government of the time wouldn’t allow the normal procedure.

IMGP4400rThe tea room in the main foyer (ground level not the Club Floor).


View from the Club Floor.


Club Floor dining room.


We asked one of the staff where could we go to experience Burmese food with the locals.

Just round the corner and the food was delicious and cheap (cheap for us). We changed money on the street as well as the banks – the bank insisted on ‘clean’ unfolded notes. At that time the Australian dollar was higher in value than the US, so we were obtaining about 876 local Kyat for one Australian dollar. Handing over $50 note we then stood there counting 43,800 Kyat . . . . . the space in my pocket was too small so it took two pockets to stow the cash!

We did go to a bank near Scott’s Market to change money – the rate was similar to the street value – a guard on the door eyed us as we entered. I did notice that he was not wearing any shoes, just flops flops .

220px-ThongsI considered that all I had to do was stamp on his toe and I would be able to rob the place. EXCEPT that when I walked in I saw the rear wall behind the tellers was a solid wall of money, and at the exchange rate that we were offered, to make a robbery worth while, I’d need a forklift to carry more than a few thousand dollars worth of Kyat!

IMGP4419rWhen I took the above picture I had my back to the bank’s main doorway, so attempting a fast get away, using a fork lift, didn’t seem all that practical.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASmall street always attracted me  – you didn’t know what you’d find.


Local take-away.


We wondered down near the river as I wanted to see if the Strand Hotel was still standing. On the way I had to take a photograph of the coloured buildings, because I recognized the area !


This is what the Strand looks like today, but in 2012 it was tired and not a patch on its glory days. It was built in 1901 and acquired by the Starkies brothers of Raffles, Singapore & Eastern & Oriental in Penang fame. In 2016 it was refurbished to be once again one of the finest hotels East of Suez.

4m6bcnd5-1404183075In 2012 we had a drink in this bar, and sat at the far end – the staff were indifferent to us, and the service extremely slow, I only hope they have lifted their game since the refurbishment.


The Strand Café today – the above three photographs have been downloaded off the net.


The Irrawaddy River or as Kipling said The Road to Mandalay – the Road to Mandalay for Kipling, was the river – listen to the words.

I stood on the river bank and remembered my first visit, while breathing in the smells of salt water, the river and the ever present smell of Asia, something of which  I never get tired. To complete the memories, we decided to cross the river by ferry.

IMGP4426The ferry terminal and the ferry on the river approaching.


One or two other people had the same idea.


Hot & cold food sellers spend all day floating back and forth trying to sell their wares.

IMGP4435Looking back at the ferry terminal


A houseboat, not a bit like the modern holiday river cruisers.


Memories . . . .

IMGP4443rApproaching the other side of the river.


Once ashore we each hired a tri-Shaw, which also had room for a ‘pusher’ – if the trishaw was bogged or on a hill the pusher jumped off and pushed the bike & passenger.


IMGP4456rA touch of the old Raj . . .for Rangoon railway station.

While I was in Burma – in 1967 and 2012 I never felt afraid or threatened. I found the Burmese to very friendly people, and perhaps one day I’ll return.

All the Rivers Run


The old river boat Ruby (built 1907) that used to work the Murray River in Australia. In addition to cargo she would also carry 30 passengers. She was sold to become a house boat in the early 1930’s, and in the late 1960’s was a feature in a local park in Wentworh (NSW) and over time started to deteriorate until she was rescued and restored as a floating museum along the Darling & Murray Rivers. The above link show the Ruby as she is now.


A smaller boat called Success.(built 1877) – her remains are now in Echuca on the Murray River.

To take advantage of the river and to open up the inter-land, the State governments of South Australia, New South Wales  and Victoria decided to build a network of weirs and locks so as to control the flow of the Murray River. They planned to build twenty five weirs and locks, but only eleven were ever built, because as the petrol engine became more efficient, and the railways grew the river traffic fell and the desire to create an inland trading route faded. The locks and weirs did allow over 1000 kms of river to become navigable, even in the dry periods, which helped to develop inland farming and cattle industry.

If you have the opportunity to read All The Rivers Run by Nancy Cato, which was published as a trilogy  – ‘All the River Run’ (1958), ‘Time, Flow Softly’ (1959) and ‘But Still the Stream’ (1962), you’ll feel the flow of the Murray River in Australia. If you don’t have time, because time now flows too fast, check out the TV series, which can be bought on DVD. It was a TV series produced in 1983 and the sequel in 1989. Be careful that you don’t get the later movie of the same name (1990), because it isn’t a patch on the TV series.

51WqYpfqGVLOf course when we did our road trip a year or so ago I wanted to see, and cruise on a river boat on the Murray River.

The paddle steamer PS Philadelphia, in the TV series was ‘played’ by PS Pevensey, (built in 1911), based at Echuca, which is a town on the Murray River, in Victoria.

DSC03532r We bought a ticket on the Rothbury – the Master was a fund of stories and history of the river.

DSC03533rWheelhouse – as we steamed along the children onboard where given the chance to steer.


Wheelhouse from the foredeck.


Other river boats tied to the bank, this one is the Coonawarra.


Avoca – she didn’t look all that healthy.

DSC03541rApproaching the lock – the flag is the flag of the River Murray.


The water has been emptied to allow us to steam down stream – and you can see the difference between the two levels of the river. The watermark along the side is clear.


I took this of the PS Melbourne after our trip to show how far down a boat drops from the entrance point of the lock.


Smaller boats can be hired for a group picnic.

DSC03550r.jpgor you can hire one for the family holiday.

DSC03551rc.jpgI found this funny – two uniformed surf lifesavers who are about 900 km from the sea via the Murray River.

DSC03552rSwim between the flags!


During the rainy season the river can get quite high – the top of the bank has been carved out by the river.

DSC03555rThe only sound on the river was the sound of our paddles- it was very relaxing and peaceful.

Our cruise was a four hour cruise and eventually we had to turn back to negotiate the locks again.


The water rushed in to fill the lock as we floated upwards.


As we approached our landing stage a few swan had to move  . . . .

The difference between the American paddle steamers and the Australian paddle steamers is that the American paddle boats have their paddle on the stern and the Australian have the paddle on the side of the boat.


American paddle steamers. Picture from the internet.

The American boats operate mainly in large wide rivers (Mississippi) and the Australians in very winding rivers such as the Murray, and the side paddles allows the boat’s captain more manoeuvrability in tight places. He can have one wheel going forward and the other in reverse for greater control.

DSC03563rcI had to take a picture of this car as Maureen & I made our way to a restaurant after leaving the paddle steamer. I am not ‘in to’ cars, because for me they get me from A to B and that’s it – but the registration plate caught my eye – it just said – FP  . . . . . .make what you will out of the registration . . .


Dramatic New Zealand fiordland.


Approaching the entrance of the first fjord that we visited  – Dusky Sound – at 8.15 am. The following few hours saw us cruising through Breaksea Sound and Doubtful Sound.



The mist hung around the peaks.


The deck was a favourite place for most of the passengers – stereo clicking of cameras never stopped.


We were aiming for the gap.



 DSC08194rA picture is worth a thousand words . . . as we enter Milford Sound.


A bit nippy, but we wouldn’t have ‘mist’ it for the world.



Small pleasure craft on the right.


Waterfalls every where.DSC08227rTourist boats approaching a waterfall.


They had a system of handing out tots of whisky to anyone who wanted to try their luck at gaining a drop or two of water to add to the whisky from the waterfall. I think it had to be from the waterfall, not the side spray. Not sure what the prize was if you managed to get the correct amount of water and not lose any whisky.



DSC08243rSo much for summer you can see the snow on the hills (top left).


I zoomed in  . . . an ex POM photographing snow  . .


Milford town right ahead – to get to Milford  you can fly in by small plane, we did see a helicopter flying around, but I am not sure if it was a taxi from Queenstown or a sight seeing helicopter. You can walk in by the Milford Track – five day four night walk – or drive from Queenstown to Milford, four hours.


This waterfall also has a small hydro system that supplies electricity to Milford.


A little of Milford can be seen on the bottom right. This is as close as we would get. Using her bow and stern side thrusters the Dawn Princess turned on the spot.

DSC08258rAs we turned Milford came in to view.


Time to leave . . .


Not again, another Yellow Submarine.

The yellow boat is the pilot boat. We had a National Ranger on board who spoke of the various Sounds and how they came about as well as other points of interest etc.
We also had a pilot onboard and the yellow pilot boat followed us as we made our way to the open sea.

DSC08264rAs we steamed out the sky started to clear.



We reached the sea and the pilot boat came alongside to take off the pilot and the ranger. I was pleased that it was not all that sunny, because I found the whole experience quite dramatic.
Later I spoke to some of the ship’s staff in the tours department and they commented, without knowing my thoughts, that they preferred the visit when it was not all that sunny because they liked the drama of the changing mist.

Next stop Sydney.

Dunedin or Dùn Èideann


Nev’s Big Yellow bus

– much cheaper than the cruise ship tours and only about eight passengers – easy to get on & off.

We were picked up by Nev’s driver / guide and ferried the thirty minutes from Port Chalmers, where we docked, to the centre of Dunedin. The cruise company charged $15 for the shuttle service to / from Port Chalmers to Dunedin and Nev’s charge was $35 to pick us up from the ship and take us to Dunedin and then start a two hour tour in and around the city. No brainer really.


Coming alongside at Port Chalmers.


The Iona Presbyterian Church (1883) dominates the port area.

Dùn Èideann is the Scottish Gaelic spelling for Edinburgh, and Charles Kettle, the surveyor of Dunedin used the same construction plan to design Dunedin as was used for Edinburgh. His wish, in 1848, was to recreate a Scottish city in New Zealand.
He named all the streets in Dunedin after the streets in Edinburgh, and built the Dunedin  buildings in the same Gothic Victorian style as Edinburgh, so you can still see this influence in many older Dunedin buildings.

We left the ship around 9.00 am and thirty minutes later arrived in Dunedin city centre, where we were dropped off to do our own ‘thing’ for an hour and a half.

DSC08082rPart of the main shopping street taken from the city centre market area – the Octagon Reserve.

DSC08081rThe market was not a food market, but general item market and at 9.30 am it had not yet begun to trade properly. There were a few stalls operating, but we were more interested in the various local sites than shopping.

DSC08083rRegent Theater built in 1928, it can seat 2000 people. To help to keep it going, after the refurbishment in 2010, the management have an annual second hand book sale, which has grown to be the largest secondhand book sale in NZ, and some consider even in the southern hemisphere. The sale raises over $100,000 a year towards the upkeep of the theater. The books sell for about $1 each, having been donated for free by the residents of the city.


With my back to the theater and on the side of the market area this shows the town hall and St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral.

DSC08088rWhen cruise ships are in port the cathedral offers free organ recitals during the day.

The first church was built here in 1862, but the current cathedral was not started until 1915 when the foundation stone was laid. It was consecrated in 1919.

800px-Town_Hall_DunedinPicture from the internet my own effort was very poor.
The foundation stone of the town hall was laid in 1878 and the town hall opened in 1880. It has the feel of Edinburgh.

DSC08089rDunedin and Edinburgh have been ‘twined’ since 1974.

I’m sorry to say, but the weather reminded me of Edinburgh as well – cold and windy with showers, and I had to wear long pants for warmth, and it was supposed to be summer! I’m sure I’ll get in to trouble for that remark. :-o)

DSC08094rAfter we’d wandered around on our own we joined the others for the tour of Dunedin and the surrounding area. The above picture is Otago Boys High school, founded in 1863 and is New Zealand’s oldest boys’ secondary school.

DSC08099rBaldwin Street, which is listed as the steepest residential street in the world.

The steep part is concrete because if it had been tarmac and during a hot summer the street would have melted and flowed downhill . . .

Once a year Cadbury’s have a sweet rolling event – Jaffas are released at the top and bounce their way down to be caught by hundreds of children

250px-JaffasJaffas from the internet


Picture off the internet showing the slope if the road is flat compared to the house.

DSC08102rRemember when railway stations were a work of art?

DSC08103rI suppose they would have had the same feeling that one gets today at an airport – but why do I prefer railway stations? For me, a railway station is far more romantic, think Casablanca .

DSC08106r   The Silver Fern about to depart – will the lady with the blue bag make it?


A brief encounter ?

DSC08114rThe feel of solidarity – stained glass windows – very church like.


From the city it was just a short ride to some high points for the views.


Working our way down to sea level.

DSC08138rcSwimming beach, but I wouldn’t fancy a swim at this beach considering there is little between it and the Antarctic. Perhaps if I wore a wet suite I’d brave the water.

DSC08135rWe were still in the outer suburbs, when across the road the local sheep didn’t seem to mind our yellow bus. Dunedin can be seen across the hills.

It was the end of our tour and the next stop was our cruise ship, just in time for lunch.



DSC08019rAn unusual memorial to those who died in the Christchurch earthquake. 185 chairs all shapes and sizes painted white to remember the victims of the 2011. They stand on the ground where once stood a church – the church was destroyed by the earthquake.

Across the road the cardboard cathedral was pointed out to us.


DSC08023rThe other side of the cardboard cathedral. It can seat 700 hundred people. The ‘A’ frame incorporates eighty six cardboard tubes each tube weighing 500 kilos. The picture is slightly off center because I took it from a moving vehicle, and we couldn’t stop.

Cardboard_Cathedral_a_touch_of_purpleThis picture was taken from the internet – the original church on this site was demolished because of the amount of damage to it during the 2011 earthquake.


Artists are encouraged to beautify bare walls left after damaged buildings had been removed.


Part of the original Christchurch cathedral, which was badly damaged in the earthquake. I suppose it still is the cathedral because it is still consecrated.  DSC08031rNobody was able to tell me if it would be repaired or demolished.


Other damaged buildings were being kept upright by placing sea containers two high to support the outer walls of the buildings.

DSC08034rYet again, others were being held up with girders.


We had lunch in a shopping centre built out of sea freight containers. All the buildings in these photographs have been created by using containers.


This area was for banks and the post office.


Maureen and I sat in this area, which was an eating area for various types of take away food. To my right was a small bar with two containers cut open to allow the air to flow through the seated area. The bar sold draught beer, which might be an important fact for some readers – it was for me when I was there, it was a warm day . . . . .

DSC08028rChristchurch was far from miserable. Everyone we saw seemed happy and the place had plenty of spending tourists .I did hear that the council wanted to remove the sea container emergency shopping area, but the area has become a tourist attraction as a symbol of Christchurch’s fortitude.


Rebuilding is in full swing everywhere.

DSC08047rIt was a beautiful day for walking across the River Avon – very English.

DSC08048rYou could feed the ducks or just sit quiet under the trees. The river flowed gently.


Fortunately the war memorial survived.


Our driver / guide took us the scenic route back to Akaroa and our ship. The scenery was breathtaking. Every bend brought something new to photograph.


We stopped to admire the view towards the harbour only to see a London bus, which means someone took a wrong turn between Dulwich Library and Oxford Circus.

ShipsWe’d crossed the hills and were now down on the flat driving to Akaroa and our tender boat. You can just see the two ships anchored.

An enjoyable day, and the ending couldn’t be better – it was an Italian night on the ship.


Our table stewards – port & starboard, dressed for Italian night.

Akaroa & Lyttelton


Entering Akaroa, which in English means ‘Long Harbour’.

Our ship anchored off the small port and used the ship’s tenders to get the passengers ashore.


The wharf where we were dropped off by the tenders.


A beautiful area where I just couldn’t stop taking pictures – I only wish my photographic skill had been better.

I’d booked a local travel company to show us around – one because he was cheaper than the cruise company, and two because his mini-bus could only take about eight to ten people, so getting on and off would be a lot quicker and the driver / guide would be a lot more personal than on a fifty six seater coach.

During our trip I found out a little about the area.
Jean François Langlois, was a Frenchman who made his living in whaling.. He ‘bought’ tracts of land from the local Maori people for about £6 worth of goods, and later a further £234 worth, before returning to France to sell land in lots to French migrants. When all had been sold he and his migrants set sail for New Zealand.

In the meantime the British had found out about the plan and they claimed the area around Akaroa as British territory – par for the course at that time.

Anyway, on their arrival the French migrants decided to stay and Akaroa now has a strong French influence even after 180 years .

220px-akaroafrnamesStreet names have a mix of English and French.

dsc07964rFrench baker and the French flag can bee seen flying over various buildings.


Even the local police station has a French influence, but with Kiwi policemen inside.

Many of the decedents of the original sixty three French emigrants still live and work in Akaroa, and their family names have not been anglicized.

Along with the Dawn Princess the Seabourne Encore was also anchored in the harbor.

dsc07959rDawn Princess on the left and the Seabourne Encore on the right.

Our mini-bus had to wait for a couple of passengers off the Seabourne Encore so Maureen and I had a look around.


The lighthouse is now a museum.


A little warmer than Wellington! Picture taken from the lighthouse looking back to the wharf.

dsc07968rOn leaving Akaroa for Lyttelton, before making our way to Christchurch, the route took us around the furthest point that the harbor stretched inland. As you see the tide was ‘out’.

dsc07974rcA short time later we began the climb to cross the local hills that surrounded the harbour.


DSC07980rc.jpgTaken from the bus as we climbed – the picture is looking back at Akaroa harbor.


A comfort stop at a small village / town called Little River.


The work man was maintaining the museum piece – the station is close to trains.


London Street in Lyttelton today – the town was knocked about by the earthquakes, which is why cruise ships no longer call here. I was last here in the late 60’s and only had vague memories of this street until I saw a large photograph on a board. I took a photograph of the photograph.


This I recognized – a pub that we used to visit.


The pub was demolished, (the above shows what it left) due to it being damaged after an earthquake. I read that the after shocks caused more damage to this building than the actual earthquake. The pub was over a hundred years old when it was damaged, but the cost to restore it was too high, and leaving it was a threat to public safety.

At the end of London Street we came across a temporary replacement for a missing building


This is now a bar called the ‘Port Hole’ – made from two shipping containers – not sure if it is still in business.

On the road out of Lyttelton we passed The Mitre Pub,  (see photo below) which was the closest pub to where we docked when I was at sea.
At the end of a day of working cargo, and the shore-side ‘Dockers’ had left,  we used to visit this pub and we would often see some of the crew off a Danish ship of the Maersk Line.
I think the Maersk Line ships were ‘dry’ i.e they were not allowed to drink alcohol while on board, so when the crew went ashore . . .  let’s just say they were noisy.
After a few beers the singing would start and the one song they would always sing was  Maersky Submarine – they replaced the word yellow with Maersk – funny how certain places bring back memories.


I wouldn’t mind, but Marsk Line ships didn’t have any yellow colouring.


Leaving Lyttelton we used the tunnel through the hills rather than climbing the hills, to take us to Christchurch.

Windy Wellington


The sun is behind us as it chases us in to Wellington Harbour.

dsc07883rWe are aiming for the gap.

We were fortunate in Wellington because an old friend from my Conway days lives in Wellington and he had ‘volunteered’ to show us around. We’d both joined Conway on the same day, and had been in the same class, and we’d kept on touch since leaving Conway 1962.

Because private cars are not allowed on the wharf we used the ship’s shuttle in to the centre of Wellington, where we met my mate.

We considered using the cable car to the lookout, but decided to drive for convenience later in the morning.

300px-wellington_nz-cablecar-topviewPicture from the internet.

dsc07887rIt was an interesting place because the terminus for the cable car was also a museum.

dsc07889rThey had old railcars on display where the passenger sat on the outside (as well as the inside) – health and safety hadn’t been invented.


The above is a photograph of a photograph showing passenger of yesteryear. I didn’t see any lap straps, but in those times one was expected to look after oneself and not expect the State to do it for you.


Old St Paul’s the original wooden protestant cathedral, built in 1866. It is one the best examples of timber gothic revival churches in the world. When the new cathedral was built in 1964 this church ceased to be a regular place of worship, but still remains a consecrated church. The steeple is ‘stunted’ due to the high winds that Wellington has to suffer.

dsc07900rMaureen & our guide. Note the flags, which belong to the Royal Navy, the New Zealand Merchant Navy and the US Marines (second division), which were all stationed in Wellington during WW2.


The inside had a very calming feel. There were some people siting quiet praying.


I’m not big in to stained glass windows, but did like this one.


For my Welsh readers you’ll be pleased to know that the slate on the roof of the church is Welsh slate – the church was re-slated with Welsh slate in 1924.

dsc07906rNew Zealand Parliament House- the building on the left is known locally as The Beehive. It houses the offices of the PM and various ministers as well as support staff.


Between the two buildings (the Beehive and the Parliament Building) there is a tunnel, which allows the  ‘wets’ and the ‘dries’ to remain dry when they have to vote. OK, so it is a bad pun . . . if you’ve not heard about the ‘wets’ and the ‘dries’ look them up under British politics.

DSC07908r.jpgParliamentary Library – to the left of this building is the Parliament Building and further left the Beehive.


Another lookout point, Mount Victoria.

dsc07915rand this is a Wellington summer . . . .at least I was able to wear shorts . . .


This year was my first visit to Wellington in 49 years.
I was third mate in the Juna (7,583 gt) in 1968 and we were alongside the wharf in Wellington on the 10th April, 1968.

On this day Wellington was hit by the worst storm since settlement in the early 1800’s.

The winds reached between 100 and 150 kts (185 to 280 kms / hr) and we on the Juna, had every rope that we had out to keep us alongside the wharf.
Around 6.00 am the ferry from Lyttelton to Wellington, the Wahine began to enter the harbor.

wahineWahine, just under 9,000gt

The Wahine had past the light house and had entered the harbout before being struck by the storm, which had become a cyclone. For a more detailed report may I suggest this site.

The Wahine lost steering and struck rocks, after which the captain ordered his passengers and crew to abandon ship. Some the lifeboats could not be used due to the list.



Some of the passengers made it close to shore on rafts and the waves dashed them against the rocks, and many were killed so close to the shore. In all there were 744 people on board, but 51 died as a result of the ship foundering.

police-012Some of the lucky ones were helped by local people and the police.

I’ve used the above from news items of the day – if anyone wishes to know more and watch the troubled vessel check this link  Wahine it is a ten minute news film of the ship in distress, and of some of those rescued.  New Zealand history site for quick overview.


Even on a quiet day it looks dangerous.


The same area on a calm summer’s day when we visited the scene.

On a happier not we had lunch at the Chocolate Fish  . . .apparently chocolate fish is the name of a local chocolate bar.

dsc07925rI had the fish, which was very nice, and it didn’t taste of chocolate.

dsc07922rAs we left the restaurant I saw two ships alongside – ours was the one on the left and the one on the right was – The World  – this is the closest that I will ever get to seeing The World.


As we arrived back to the Dawn Princess we had to pass The World.


I did like, what I think they are, spa baths on the balcony of The World, remind me to e-mail Princess Cruises . . . .



I do enjoy watching a professional at work whether he/she is a brick layer, carpenter, jet pilot or chef.
Having been interested in food since a child I like professional cooking shows on the TV, such as Nigella Lawson, Luke Nguyen, Rick Stein etc and find them to be entertaining and informative, so when Maureen and I heard that the Dawn Princess’ Executive chef and the head Maitre ‘D would be giving a demonstration and talk about cooking during our recent cruise, we made sure that we had a seat.

The talk was fun and the chat between the two men entertaining. The head chef created a three-course meal in less than half an hour while chatting about his life at sea and how he became to go to sea. The Maitre ‘D ‘fed’ (excuse the pun) the Chef various lines that created backchat between the two men.

I took the above photograph during the creation of the pudding, and must admit he was very generous with the brandy!

Each dish for each course was carried around by one of the stewards so that people could see the finished product. We were in the center of the audience so I was unable to take any photographs.

We were not near the front, but they had overhead cameras and the large screen behind allowed us to follow the chef’s moves.



At the end of the show other chefs arrived – pastry chef, sous chef, chef de partie, baker, and other staff from the kitchen (galley).


They all received a very large round of applause because the food on the ship was very good.


I know I’ve posted the above before, but the dish illustrates the high standard of food very well.

As the various kitchen staff left we were offered a short tour of one of the ship’s galleys.


Everywhere stainless steel for cleanliness.



Even the deckhead (ceiling) was stainless steel, and spotless.


Cleanliness was the order of the day – everyday.


The baker bakes bread three times a day, so that the result for the passenger is always fresh bread. The above is just an example of some of the bread available.

dsc08323rAs we moved through the galley the creative art of some of the staff came to light. All made from fruit and vegetables.





Where ever I looked I saw stainless steel.





Maureen with some of the galley crew, and a sugar model of the ship.


As we left the galley we had the chance of buying a signed copy of the cook book that the chef had produced. It was quite popular, but as Maureen has more cook books than our local library she declined spending the $42.


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