Port Macquarie

Macquarie

Lachlan Macquarie 1762 – 1824

Lachlan Macquarie was the 5th Governor of NSW and arrived in Sydney in 1809. He urbanised the convict settlement by creating street and parks and the layout of Sydney today is based on his plans. 

Governor Macquarie encouraged social reforms, and he promoted getting married in church, morality, police patrols, he encouraged the emancipists and convicts whose sentences had expired to live law abiding lives.
A number of these ex-convicts became business men & others were promoted to government positions. Francis Greenway (ex-convict) became the colonial architect & Dr William Redfern who was condemned to death in England for being involved in the Nore mutiny, he was aboard HMS Standard as surgeon’s mate during the mutiny. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he spent four years in an English gaol before requesting transportation to New South Wales in 1801.
On arrival he was posted to Norfolk Is. where he worked for six years before returning to Sydney. Over time he became the Colonial surgeon and was known for promoting the vaccination against smallpox. 

Governor Macquarie encouraged exploration of the land beyond the Blue Mountains, and it was during one expedition in 1818 that John Oxley followed the Hasting River to the sea and named the area when he reached the sea Port Governor.
In 1821 Port Macquarie became a penal settlement for convicts who had committed secondary offences after arriving in Sydney.

This was the town that we picked for a holiday, but thankfully things had changed in the last 200 years.

perking

Town02

Plenty of free parking for two hours and it was very easy to move the car to another parking place. An easy town centre to walk around with plenty of shops restaurants, and places of interest.

Town 03

The above is the museum – the building was built in 1835 – 1840 it was a shop and a dwelling. The picture is from the museum web site because my outside shot was not good enough.

We thought our first stop should be to find out about the history of the town.   

History 01

The soldier on the left is Maureen.

History 02

As we walked through the museum we passed through the history of the town from the early years of the convict period, to more modern times, which included rooms from the early days to those of the 1950 & 60’s, which were familiar to both of us having been born in the 40’s . 

shops

Shops of yesteryear in a recreated street

For $5 each it was well worth the visit, and the time to see all the exhibits was nearly two hours because it was so interesting.

Niceste peopl

We met some of the nicest people. One was Edmund Barton who was Australia’s first Prime Minister after Federation, which was the 1st January 1901.
Edmund Barton, also known as ‘Tosspot Toby ‘, was the local representative for Port Macquarie.
He gained his nickname from the Bulletin magazine of the time, because Sir Edmund liked good conversations, good food and good drink even at the expense of his health.  

Edmund-Barton

Sir Edmund (Toby) Barton (1849–1920)

The area where Barton’s statue is located is called Conner Hurley Park, which is a beautiful spot for a quiet walk and to sit and watch the world pass you bye. 

Park

Look back

We had a fish & chip ‘tea’ overlooking the sea, with our backs to the building on the right. We had competition from the sea gulls and the pelicans for our fish & chips.
We were grateful for a small boy with endless energy who would chase after the sea gulls, but not the pelicans.

We strolled along the sea wall and came to the ‘painted rock’ area, an area where people can paint the rocks with dedications or comments, as long as the comments are not unacceptable.

painted rock  

Purple

If you look closely, you will see a green car, but I doubt that all the people listed would have been in the one car!
The area is a walk-way along the break-wall along the Hasting River.
The painting idea began as an art competition in 1995 and it has now been allowed to be an outdoor gallery for anyone who wishes to try their artistic talents.

Mekong 1

Being on holiday we visited a number of restaurants, but we only went back to one restaurant twice – once in the evening and a day or so later for lunch.
The Mekong Restaurant was very good and they offered a pint (473 mls) of local beer for $7.50, which is an excellent price for a beer in a restaurant, particularly being draft beer. 
I had to have a second glass just to make sure there hadn’t been a mistake . . .
The restaurant offered Thai / Laos food – the restaurant was owned by a couple, the male being Australian and his wife Laos. 

mekong The restaurant overlooks the water, which allows for a nice warm breeze to waft through.

Laurieton

We visited Laurieton, which is about a thirty-minute drive south of Port Macquarie – a quiet small town with a population of about 2000 in the 2016 census.
Captain Cook in May 1770 named the three mountains that he could see ‘the Brothers’ because they reminded him of a similar group of hills in Yorkshire, England.

By naming them as such, he unwittingly named them the same as the local Birpai people, who had a legend that there were three brothers who were killed by a witch named Widjirriejuggi.
The brothers were buried where the mountains now stand.
The youngest brother was named Dooragan, which is the name of the local National Park.    

ship

While in Laurieton I took a photograph of the above vessel in the harbour.
I cropped the photograph and zoomed in, in an effort get a clear picture of what looked like a fishing boat, or an old trader, but perhaps just a tourist boat . . . 

boat 2 

It reminded me of something out of a Joseph Conrad novel . . .

The romance of the sea.  

John Edmund Flynn 1854-1933, his beach.

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Thanks to Covid Maureen and I were unable to spend our Emirates frequent flyer points, which we had saved for a trip from Singapore to Sydney after cruising to Singapore.
We were keen to spend the points before they were cancelled by the airline.
After considering several options we finally decided to spend them on accommodation, but where should we go . . .

Expo

In 1988, along with our children, we had driven to Brisbane for Expo 88, and to break the journey of over 12 hours driving, we stopped overnight at Port Macquarie and promised ourselves that we would return one day.
It took us 34 years before we returned, and this was all thanks to Covid.
The drive from home to Port Macquarie earlier this month took us five hours, the distance being around 460 km (285 miles) – the drive through Sydney before we could use the freeway was time consuming.
Between Maureen & I we had over 100,000 points so with a little extra cash (about$260) we were able to book a week’s holiday in an apartment in a resort, which was across the road from the beach – the beach is named Flynn’s Beach, after John Edmund Flynn a local surveyor who built his home not far from the beach in 1891. Flynn’s home is still standing so more of that in another post.
The resort that we picked is named Flynn’s Beach Resort, which is across the road from Flynn’s Beach.

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The above has been copied from the Resort’s web site

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The above two pics show the view from our balcony

balcony

We had a table and chairs on our own balcony.

Due to Maureen’s health we picked a ground floor apartment to avoid her having to climb too many stairs.  

Within the resort there were gardens and wildlife, the owners have managed to marry a natural small lake and a flowing creek with a commercial business. The gardens are well kept and as Maureen and I walked by the creek we saw bush turkeys, water dragons, goannas, and ducks. We were told that koalas and possums also lived in the resort. 

Bush turkey

Bush turkey – not known for being ‘brainy or handsome’ but it is a survivor. These birds are born in a moist mound of decomposing leaves and struggle to avoid predators.
The male bird builds a nest in the decaying leaf clutter and invites the females to lay eggs and the male then keeps the nest at the correct temperature by moving the decaying litter on and off the nest to keep the correct temperature. 
The nest can be anything from 1 to 1.5 mtrs tall (3 to 5 feet) and there can be up to 50 eggs in a nest (if he is popular with the ladies). Once hatched and the chicks’ feathers have dried they can fly.
They have enemies, but they are not too frightened of people because they will steal food if you are having a picnic.

creek

The creek flowing from the small lake.

Liz2

Guaranteed to make you jump when he moves, a goanna or Monitor Lizard, they will eat anything that they can catch and swallow.  They were once a traditional food source for the Aboriginals and are often represented in Dreamtime stories.

water dragon

Water dragon – these creatures are shy but have adapted to living with humans in parks and obviously Flynn’s Beach Resort.  

pond

A general view to show how the apartments are located to the creek and small lake area.

children's pool

The children have not been forgotten –

adult pool

nor the adults – both pools heated when required.

livingroom

The photo above is our apartment showing the living room and behind me when I took the picture is a dining area. We had two bedrooms, one with a double bed and the other with two large singles.
The kitchen was to the left of my photograph – as you can see there is shelf access to the living room for convenience. All in all it was a good size accommodation, which would have been big enough for a family with children, or another couple to share the cost.
The kitchen had everything we wanted from fridge freezer to microwave and full complement of crockery and cutlery. 

beach

and across the road we had Flynn’s beach  . . . . .

Rain and more rain

qe2

The British celebrating ten years of service for Concorde’s trans-Atlantic service, accompanied by the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows, and Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship, which also carried passengers trans-Atlantic but much slower.

On arrival at JFK (New York’s major airport) we taxied to terminal 7

JFK arrival

There wasn’t any mistake as to our location because British Airways had their own terminal since 1970, when at that time they were the only foreign airline to operate their own terminal at JFK.

The sign dominated the building.BA terminal

In 2022 British Airways will be moving to terminal 8 and terminal 7 will be demolished.

Back to my arrival into the USA. Once off the aircraft British Airways had a dedicate customs hall for Concorde passengers and dedicated baggage handling area. It was the fastest entry into any country that I had ever experienced.

I was met by a Company driver and taken to a hotel not too far from the airport. It was an odd hotel with security bars on the windows as if they were locking people in rather than treating them as guests. The bedroom door had about five locks.
It occurred to me that if there was a fire in the hotel, by the time I had unlocked the door it would be too late to escape. Oddly enough I cannot remember the name of this hotel, and I no longer have the bill.

I had arrived on Wednesday 12th March, and was booked out to fly to San Francisco on Friday evening, the 14th March, with United Airlines.

The time I spent at the Company offices was uneventful. The Friday evening plane to San Francisco had a departure time of 7.00 pm.

I ordered a taxi for 5.00 pm because even though I was economy (what a come down) I had plenty of time to check-in. Just before the taxi was due to arrive it began to rain, and it was very heavy rain.

Taxi

I loaded my suitcase and bags into the taxi,and we set off in heavy rain. It was about halfway to the airport when the taxi ‘suffered’ a puncture in the rear right tyre and we came to a halt.

The driver got out and kicked the tyre and began to unpack his tools to change the wheel. I asked if he had an umbrella, which he did so I suggested that I hold the umbrella while he removed the wheel. His accent told me that he was not born in the US.
I was now standing in pouring rain on a very busy highway, it was getting dark, and I did not have a clue where I was, and the clock was ticking.
The driver was having a hard time trying to unscrew the bolts that held the wheel in place. During a short break when we shared the umbrella the driver commented that in America it was customary for a passenger to share the cost of the replacement tyre.
I asked him if he thought I had arrived in the last shower . . a comment that he did not understand and stood looking at me in the rain as if I had lost my mind.
I then suggested that it was drier in the taxi, and he could radio for a replacement taxi as I had a flight to catch.

Finally, the replacement taxi arrived and I moved everything into this vehicle.

I paid the first taxi for transporting me to where we stopped and started a new fare in the replacement vehicle, I was not interested any other local old wives’ tales about new tyres – I was soaked and my shoes squelched as I walked, I was not a happy chappy.

DC10

I arrived at the airport, and it was packed with travellers. I found the check-in counter  for United Airlines and it was swamped with people – apparently the idea of a queue was un-American.
Not being used to a bun fight when checking in I considered my next move and realised that if you can’t beat them join them, which is what I did.
Everyone was soaked, thanks to the rain, and the whole area smelt of damp humanity, but with the use of height and elbows I managed to get to the check-in counter and secure a seat. From memory it was a DC10 and the configuration was 2 – 4 -2 and I managed one of the starboard side two, which was non-smoking.
seating

They did not have the facility to offer a film to distract the passengers, nor did they have headphones to listen to music. My neighbour slept most of the way, & I read.
The flight time was around six hours and passengers at that time could smoke on an aircraft. The airlines would segregate the smokers, but of course they could not segregate the smoke which drifting through the passenger cabin.
The time difference between the two cities is three hours, so taking off at 7.00 pm in New York meant arriving in San Francisco at 1.00 am the next day, New York time, which was 10.00 pm in San Francisco.

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San Francisco Airport in the 1980’s

I was met by the local manager and taken to a hotel – my body was around 2.00 am NY time, so I was told to rest up because tomorrow was Saturday, and he would be pick me up late morning and take me to his home for lunch.

The visit to San Francisco was a real joy – the local manager couldn’t do enough for me.
While in his home he explained the basic rules of American football, which was on TV at the time – even after watching it for about an hour I was non-the wiser as I kept comparing the rules to rugby, which does not require the players to wear armour. . . .
The team’s name was the 49ers and they were quite popular in San Francisco

49's

Not being interested in sport, but not wishing to be rude, I did my best to show an interest in the game but found the constant stopping for one thing or another took the edge of the game for me. I could not understand why they all kept stopping the game.

In the evening I was taken out to dinner for ribs, a meat dish that I had not experienced before. 

ribs

I must admit there was plenty of meat on the bone – which was unexpected. For some reason I always thought the dish would be shy of meat or have very little meat attached to the bone.
My other problem with this dish is that I hate getting my hands ‘dirty’ when eating, but I was able to cut most of the meat off with the use of a knife and fork and only managed a token attempt at using my fingers. The taste was very good and sometime later I tried ribs again, but in another country, it was not the same.

The following day being Sunday the manager picked me up from the hotel to show me San Francisco – forget the tour companies, find a local!

What did I want to see – asked the manager…
Lombard Street?

lombard st

But before Lombard Street I wanted to drive along the Steve McQueen route in

bunout

Bullitt  – but at a lot slower speed!
Car chase in Bullitt

Lombard Street was followed by –

Golden Gate

The Golden Gate Bridge – opened in 1937

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Fisherman’s Wharf, where we had a quick lunch.

cable car

Of course I wanted to see the cable cars.

Andrew_Smith_Hallidie

Andrew Smith (later he added Hallidie to his name) 
 Born in London UK, 16 March 1836, died 24 April 1900.
He is credited with inventing the world’s first cable car.

He sailed from Liverpool to New York and eventually made his way to the gold fields of California, but if you wish to know more of this very interesting individual try this link  http://www.cablecarmuseum.org/archive/Library/HallidieBio.htm

Coit_Tower_2021

Coit Tower built in 1933 I wanted to see the views from the top.

gaol

From the car park one can see Alcatraz Island with the well-known prison.

I did not get a chance to visit Alcatraz due to time limits – it closed as a prison in 1963.
I had Monday and Tuesday (17th & 18th March) in the office and flew to Los Angeles on Wednesday to visit the LA office, late Wednesday and all-day Thursday so I booked my ticket with United Airlines for a Sunday departure to Australia.
I planned to visit Universal Studio on Friday (21st March) & perhaps Disney World on Saturday (22nd March), after all I might never return to LA in the future, and I would be able to buy presents for my children.

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Universal Studio 1986

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Disney World 

Once again the best of plans . . . . I woke in anticipation of Universal Studios only to be greeted by very heavy rain, which put a damper (excuse the pun) on a visit to Universal Studio. 
I waited for the rain to ease but it didn’t – it rained all day and the next day, so I spent two days locked in a hotel. The rain was so heavy it would have been ridiculous to have attempted to visit either attraction, nor I could not be sure that they had not closed due to the weather.

United

On Sunday I reverted to being a business class passenger for the long flight to Sydney.
I checked in for the United Airline flight UA 815 and I asked if the bubble was available, and if they would be showing a film or two during the flight – I was told that they would be showing a film in the Bubble.
I then asked if the flight would be non-stop because I was in a hurry to get home. I was told that it would be non-stop.

In February of 1986 United Airlines took over Pan American Airlines Pacific routes and assets, which included 18 aircraft for USD $750 million.

Everything was routine as we took off and the normal meal service began.
After lunch I asked when they would be showing a film (movie) and was told by an older stewardess that they would not be showing a movie in the Bubble.
The lady was not impolite she just sounded a little surprised that I thought there would be a film in the Bubble.
I mentioned that the stewardess (in today’s pc world ‘flight attendant’) was no longer young, because she would have been in her late 40’s or perhaps early 50’s.
At that time in the 1980’s female flight attendants where ‘youth-full’ and the more mature were in charge or rostered on shorter flight sectors rather than LAX to SYD, which is a 15 hour 30 minutes sector. The female flight attendant that I spoke to was not in charge.

I asked if there were any seats downstairs that I could use while watching a film, there wasn’t any because they were full.

Later in the flight we were told that we were diverting to Fiji because we were getting low on fuel . . . now I felt very sorry for the flight attendant that I had spoken to earlier, her working day had just been increased by an extra two or three hours. 
Crew beds on long flights had yet to be ‘invented.’

My feelings at the time were that I was flying with a domestic airline trying to be an international airline, and they were failing.
I suppose the takeover of Pan Am and the gaining of the international routes the previous month had overwhelmed the management and they were plugging holes to keep things going. . .

I do not have any idea what United Airline is like today, because I never flew with them again.    

Flight of fancy

BA 747

Boeing 747 – the work horse of flying in the 1980’s

How something simple can grow & grow!

In 1986 I was asked to attend an operational meeting in London, to which I agreed.

I warned Maureen that I would be away for a few days because I was going to London.

Later it was decided that I should fly over to New York from London and see their office and how it differed from ours, and of course to meet the staff. Connections in the international transport field made the world go round.

Later that day I warned Maureen again that I would be a way a little longer than I first thought

The following day the GM said to me ‘After New York why not ‘nip over’ to San Francisco and see how they operate, and on the way back call in at Los Angeles . . . . . . then you can come home.’

That evening I informed Maureen . . .

I felt tired out just thinking of all the flying and the meetings. Some might think international business travel is romantic, but my itinerary was work, not a holiday, and the only foreign sites that I would see would be airports and airport hotels, because our business was air transport, so the operation of airports was my focus.

It was decided that I should fly British Airways rather than Qantas because BA was keen to increase our spending power with them through their cargo system.
British Airways knew that they could not compete for our OBC traffic (on board courier) because Qantas had the best timetable that fitted our requirements.

Some years earlier, being an ex-employee of British Airways, I had ‘done a deal’ with BA Australia for a particular product of ours that generated over 100,000 kilos of cargo a year. British Airways’ price per kilo encouraged us to ship our non-urgent traffic through them – but they wanted us to increase our traffic.

So why not spend money with BA passenger department which would keep Qantas on their toes if we appeared to be getting ‘close’ to British Airways.

Competition is great leveller.

I was booked economy by the company, but thankfully BA took pity on me, and I was upgraded to Business class from Sydney to London.

At that time video on demand from your seat was not available so a passenger had to make sure he/she had a couple of good books to help pass the time.

I was allocated a seat in the ‘bubble’.

Bubble 02

The Bubble was an area upstairs at the front of the B 747 – some airlines created a bar area in the bubble, but British Airways at that time used it as a business class area. It was a quiet area and seating was limited.

seating  

This picture gives you an idea of the area. As you see there was a small screen at the front. The passengers had earphones and could listen to music or talks about various subjects.
After the lunchtime meal had been cleared away a film would be shown and you could listen to the film via the headphones.
If you had seen the film hard luck because the only thing you could change was the sound, you could not change the film. You could still listen to music if you wished.
In other areas of the aircraft a pulldown screen in each passenger area was used for passengers to view a film. The pulldown screen was much larger than the screen in the Bubble.  

The London visit went well – but what I did not mention to the London office was that I would not be flying economy across the Atlantic because I had a ticket for the Concorde  . . . the Company used Concorde for the OBC courier service, so I did not want any problem with me not being a courier. 

The Australian GM had taken pity on me . . . and it was Concorde’s tenth anniversary of flying the Atlantic. 

02

I was dropped off at the passenger terminal and made my way to the dedicated check-in area for Concorde. 

checkin

You never had to queue for Concorde

The departure lounge was not like any other departure lounge this was Concorde! Everything was just ‘so’, but unfortunately, I could not find any pictures of the Concorde lounge of 1986.

On checking in my suitcase was checked and I had to show my hand baggage because the overhead lockers had limited space.

baggaeI was given a baggage tag for my hand luggage; I had passed the test.

timetable

I was given a small timetable to show that I would arrive in New York before I left London . . .note the check-in time. Today one has to check-in so early that Concorde would arrive in New York before you had passed through security.

seating plan 2Seating plan of the aircraft

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As you see there is not a lot of room, but everyone could see through a window, and I was fortunate not to have anyone in the seat next to me. 

If one has a ‘problem’ with this aircraft, it is the height for tall passengers. I was (at the time, I have since shrunk) 6 ft 2 inches tall (1.829 mtr) and I had to bend my neck as I walked down the aisle.

tall man

I found the above picture on the internet and this person commented about the height when boarding Concorde. He is six feet tall, (1.8 mtr) so add two inches and my shoes . . . 

It was obvious that the cabin crew had to meet certain heights before they would be allowed to fly Concorde. None of the cabin crew that I saw had a neck bending problem. 

Stewardess

Did you know that the time it took for a cabin crew member to pour a glass of Champagne the aircraft had travelled ten miles (16 km).

speed

Wherever you sat you could see the speed indicator and the height at which we flew. The height above is 16.5 km and the speed shown is twice the speed of sound. When we went through the sound barrier obviously, we did not hear it because we had left the bang behind us, but I felt a slight jerk in the back.
We cruised at 60,000 feet.

Cruising at 60,000 feet generates heat on the airframe, which causes the aircraft to expand by between 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm).

Looking out the window I could see the horizon, which was edged with a rich indigo blue.
The experience is such that you think you can see the curvature of the Earth , but you cannot see the curve – we were not high enough at 60,ooo feet (18,288 mtrs).
see-that-thats-the-curvature-of-the-earth- The aircraft window is small, so you have to be a lot higher to see the curvature of the Earth. Some people said that they could see the curve of the Earth when flying Concorde, but that was after a few Champagnes . . . .   

The menu for that day’s flight. 

menu

Menu 01

Any drinks ?

wine

If you remember Trivia Pursuit here are a couple of facts about Concorde

The maximum temperature on Concorde’s nose when cruising at the speed of sound (Mach) is 127 degrees C and at Mach2.2 Concorde’s maximum speed, it reaches 153 degrees c (307 F).

At Mach 2 we were doing 23 miles a minute (37 km). 

On the 7th February 1996 the flight from New York to Heathrow took only 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds – breaking the previous record by over a minute.
There were 100 passengers and six cabin crew onboard.

certificate

It doesn’t matter how old you are one will still keep the record of flying Concorde . 

British Airways Concorde fleet 1986.

British_Concorde_fleet_1986

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Each passenger was given a small satchel containing various items, which included their latest magazine as a memento of the ten years of service, which is why I was able to show many of the items above. 

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Flight of Fancy

Fiji Is. or the Cannibal Islands . .

political-map-of-Fiji

The first European to see what we now call the Fiji Is. was Abel Janszzon Tasman during his 1642/43 voyage. He had already visited Tasmania, New Zealand, and Tonga.

Later Captain Cook passed close to the island during his last voyage in 1774.

The islands had been part of the Tongan empire and the local natives in Fiji referred to their home as Viti, and the Tongan’s referred to the islands as Fisi. Thanks to the mispronunciation the British (Capt. Cook), the islands became the Fiji Islands.

flag

The flag of Fiji – the union flag represents the links between Fiji and the United Kingdom. The coat of arms shows the agriculture of Fiji, cocoa, sugar, bananas and coconut. The British lion at the top is holding a cocoa pod in its paws.

  The natives of Fiji were known to be cannibals and had been for over 2500 years. The last known act of cannibalism took place in 1867 when a Methodist missionary and five local Fijian student teachers were killed and eaten in Viti Levu. If you look at the map Viti Levu is the larger of the two main islands, which is on the left.

WilliamBlighCaptain William Bligh 1754-1817

Captain Bligh was cast adrift by the mutineers of HMS Bounty on the 28th of April (London time), 27th April ship time in 1789.
Bligh and eighteen of his crew were set adrift in a six meter (20 foot) open boat. After stopping for water at Tofua (one of the islands of Tonga) one of his parties was killed so he decided to sail directly to Timor, which at that time was a colony of the Dutch.
Bligh considered that all of the islands in between were dangerous, and he would not risk his men again.
The above map has a red arrow to indicate that Bligh sailed between the two main island of Fiji and was in fact chased by local natives in war canoes. Bligh managed to steer his craft into a rain storm and losing his pursuers. 

After an epic voyage of 3,618 nautical miles (4,164 land miles or 6,701 km) in an open boat he arrived in Timor on the 14th June 1789, with all the men who had been cast adrift with him, save for the man killed in Tonga.
During the voyage Captain Bligh kept a diary and he charted his way through the Fiji islands and his charts were so accurate that they can be used today. He was an excellent navigator.  

There have been several movies (films) made of the mutiny –

1933 -In the wake of the Bounty – Mayne Lynton
The film was an Australian production and Errol Flynn played Fletcher Christian. This was Flynn’s first film roll.

1935 – Mutiny on the Bounty – Charles Laughton  

1962- Mutiny on the Bounty – Trevor Howard

1984 – The Bounty – Antony Hopkins 

and in 1985 Mutiny came out as a musical – Frank Finlay as Bligh. 

Mayne Lynton, Charles Laughton, Trevor Howard, Antony Hopkins all played the part of Captain Bligh.

They all portray William Bligh as the ‘enemy’ but on his return to England he was court martialled for losing his ship and acquitted because the authorities could not find him at fault.
Within a year of arriving back in England he was appointed to command another ship and set sail on another breadfruit voyage.

In the late 1980’s when I visited Fiji and did not have to contend with cannibals, just the friendliness of the locals.

FGH-Historical1I stayed at the Gateway Hotel near Nadi airport. 

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It was a friendly hotel and far enough away from the runway that the jets did not disturb my sleep.
The above is a more modern picture of the dining room from their website.

Airport 2

airport

In 1987 the airport was not all that busy – I took the above pictures shortly after arriving. Nothing like it is today.

Unispeed

Our agent was Unispeed, which became part of TNT Express some years later.

Compared to some of the other islands that I had visited Fiji was the ‘Big Smoke’. It had far more courier and freight traffic than any of the other islands, and our agent had offices in each of the three main towns, Nadi, Lautoka and Suva.

Nadi is the main airport, which is about 120 km (70 miles) from Suva the capital of Fiji and had a population of about 20,000 when I visited.

North of Nadi is Lautoka which was, during my visit, the main seaport and located in this town was the island’s largest sugar processing plant and a large brewery. Lautoka was much larger town than Nadi and it was about a twenty- minute drive between each. The population was around 40,000 the map does not show the importance of Lautoka. 

PNAN to SuvaBy bus it would take about five hours or more, and by car about three hours for a journey from Nadi to Suva. The road was too narrow to drive at high speed, plus wandering locals and their animals all playing ‘chicken’ did not help our overall speed.

Once we passed Sigatoka (see map between Nadi & Suva) we had reached the Coral Coast, which even then was the holiday area for international visitors.

The Coral Coast as a holiday destination began in the 1950’s when the Korolevu Beach Hotel was built. Today a visitor has a choice of dozens of hotels from high end international hotels to small family run resorts.

fiji_beach

Is it any wonder that this coastline has become very popular?  

During my visit I was fortunate to see quite a lot of the island because I wished to meet the clients of our Australian and New Zealand shippers because I wished to build a two-way link via the company that I represented. 

It was an interesting time particularly when I met the head of customs, and he insisted on a Kava ceremony.

Kava is a Tongan word for ‘bitter’.
In Fiji a formal kava ceremony will often accompany important social, political or a business function similar to a business meeting in Australia where the two parties might have a glass of wine when concluding a friendly business meeting.

kava-plant-health-benefits-risks-healthy-2000

The leaves of a Kava plant.

The plant leaves and the root are dried in the sun after which the dried plant is pounded to a fine powder and then mixed with water in a large wooden bowl.
Our agent and I sat on one side of the bowl and the customs officer, and a senior member of his organisation sat on the other side. The customs officer mixed powder and water together.
When he was satisfied, as the honoured guest I was presented with a portion of the kava mixture in a coconut shell. As the coconut shell was offered to me, I clapped my hands three times and then accepted the shell. I then drank the contents in one go – before our meeting I had been ‘educated’ by our agent as to protocol. 

The shell was refilled and given to my companion, and he clapped and drank his share in one go.
My companion was the ‘Matanivanua’ what we would call a Herald. He did most of the talking as in explaining why I was in Fiji and my position as the regional manager for the Pacific Islands.
During the chat the cup had moved around to the chief customs officers and then his companion. 
I accepted a second but much smaller amount of mixture because I was beginning to have an odd feeling.
I was warned that Kava would make me feel relaxed and give a feeling of wellbeing.
I did not have a feeling of wellbeing and I did not feel relaxed, because I could not feel my lips and part of my tongue.
The feeling was like a visit to the dentist after the dentist has injected a painkiller before he starts drilling for oil.

As the painkiller begins to wear off you are unable to drink without dribbling.

Fortunately, my companion realised that something was wrong and brought the meeting to a close.
We all shook hands as I burbled my gratitude to the Chief of Custom’s kindness while wiping my face under the pretence of the heat.
He gave me an odd look because his office was airconditioned . . . .

I have not touched kava since. 

During the next few years, I visited Fiji and number of times, and even experienced a Coral Coast resort because this location was closer to Suva which was my business location on one trip.   

desk

I took the above picture in the Nadi office, and this picture encapsulates for me the friendliness of the Fijian people.

When I stayed at the Coral Coast, I think I stayed at the Ramada Reef Resort, which is now the Resort Palm Cove and is part of the Accor Group.

swimming-pool-98263

The above picture is from the current Resort Palm Cove advert. 

sun

Farewell from the Coral Coast. 

Cook Islands

Sunset

Cook Is. sunset 

255px-Flag_of_the_Cook_Islands.svg

Cook Island flag with the union flag which denotes the historical link with the UK, and the fifteen stars represent each of the islands that make up the Cook Islands.

map

The map will give you an idea of the location of the Cook Island – they are three and a half flying hours from Auckland. You can see a read mark that I have placed on the northern island of New Zealand that indicates the approximate location of Auckland.

The capital of the Cook Island is on the island of Rarotonga and is called Avarua. 
The total land mass of all fifteen islands adds up to 240 square kms (93 sq miles). The ocean economic zone under the Cook Is control is 1.96 million square kms (757 sq miles).

A spot of trivia Captain Cook visited the islands in 1773 and 1777 and he named one of the islands as Hervey Is. and later the whole group was known as the Hervey Is.

The change in name came about because of the Russians in the 1820’s.

220px-Kruzenshtern_I_F

Adam Johann von Krusenstern  1777-1846

Adam Johann von Krusenstern was a Baltic German Admiral, born in Estonia from a Swedish aristocratic family, who had remained in Estonia after Estonia became part of Russia in 1787.
He joined the Russian Imperial navy, and even served six years in the Royal Navy, but in 1803 he in command of one ship in company with another Russian ship sailed around the world via Cape Horn, the north Pacific, and Cape of Good Hope. In his report to Tsar Alexandra, he referred to the Hervey Is as the Cook Is. to honour Captain Cook.

His work was translated in to English and later into Dutch, French, Spanish, Danish and Italian. Hervey Is. had become Cook Is.

300px-Крузенштерн_Radich

The above is a picture of the Padua. Launched in 1926 for F. Laeisz of Hamburg and was the last of the P-Line (so name due to all the ships in this line began with ‘P’). The ship sailed under the German flag of the day – 

Flag_of_Germany_(3-2_aspect_ratio).svg the Weimar Republic, and later

1920px-War_Ensign_of_Germany_(1938–1945).svg  under the Nazi flag, and later again

1280px-Merchant_flag_of_Germany_(1946–1949).svg the Merchant navy flag of Germany from 1946 – 1949

images in 1946 she was surrendered to the USSR and became part of the Russian navy. She was renamed Kruzenshtern after Admiral Adam Johann von Krusenstern. 

188px-Flag_of_Russia.svg her flag today, & if you wish to know more click here.

Back to the Cook Is.

I flew from Sydney direct to Rarotonga in March 1987, the flight time being five hours forty minutes.
I left on a Sunday and arrived at 7.00 pm on Saturday – perhaps a time warp Captain Kirk, which gave me two Sundays in that week.

cyclone-shelters-all-need-a-ramp

It had only been three months since the Cook Is had been devastated by Cyclone Sally and the 190 km winds.
From December 1986 through to January 1987 Hurricane Sally swept across Rarotonga and cause a lot of damage.

Our agent was the only IATA agent on the island, which came in handy for Skypak, plus it was one of the few buildings undamaged by the cyclone being brick and steel.

rar The island had one tarmac road that circumnavigated the island, and I was driven the twenty miles (32 km) around the island in forty minutes and saw the rebuilding of life in the Cook Is. The people were all very friendly and as we were not in any rush to complete the journey, I was happy to wave to anyone who waved at me. 
The population of the island at that time was about 9,000 people and I think I waved at most of the islanders. My arm ached by the time we returned to the office.

NAvaruaTownAvarua was a quiet place in 1987.

The acceptable currency was either New Zealand dollars or Cook Is. dollars. I think there is a saying in the USA, that if anything is not correct it is as bad as a three-dollar bill. The saying has not translated to the Cook Is.

3 dollar

sheet three22102021bill 2

I found the above currency in one of my books that I used as a bookmark – the book was

Aggie

club-raro-resort

I stayed in a small resort just outside of Avarua called Cook Is Raro Club, I found the above from their web page – it has changed a lot since 1987. While I was there the reconstruction was in full swing. 

gardens-94804-crop

Bedrooms were like a small chalet, very pleasant and the sound of the sea could be heard.

coral-beach-lagoon-52971-crop  

Our agent had arranged for me to be a temporary member of the local fishing club. The idea of the club was not sitting on a riverbank with rod and line but chasing the marlin deep sea.
After studying the photographs around the wall of the club it looked an exciting trip, but due to my limited time I only saw the members in the evening and had to refuse their offers of a fishing trip

fishing-club-reopens-we-had-a-lot-of-catching-up-to-do

In 1987 the club was a much smaller building among overgrown trees and grass and you could not see the sea from the club due to the undergrowth – what a change today.
The Cook Is. has become a holiday island, but thirty-five years ago it was a quiet back water. Few people could afford to visit, unlike now with cheap holiday flights, and not just from New Zealand and Australia. (Pre covid of course) 

Entertainment in the evening was limited and it was a long walk to Avarua from the resort and quite hot even in the evening.

TJ

At the harbour I did enjoy a beer or two with our agent at Trader Jacks. It had been damaged by the cyclone, but the beer was cold and conversation with the locals was always interesting. Oddly enough the damage to the place gave it a strange air of history. I believe that it was closed and had to be rebuilt. It was reopened in 1989, and as far as I know still going strong.Trader 1

A cold beer and a cool breeze what more could be better.

The above pictures of Trader Jacks are of the modern buildings, rather than how things were when I visited Rarotonga. Trader Jacks had only been open about six months before Cyclone Sally visited the Cook Is. 

sunsett

The Cook Islands are well worth a visit if you get the chance to be wandering around the Pacific.

American Samoa

flag

American Samoa is the only area south of the Equator controlled by the USA, not counting the Antarctic.
 The above is the flag of American Samoa and Pag Pago (pro Pango Pango) is the capital, which is located on the island of Tutuila.

The US had been interested in this part of Samoa from as early as 1839 and when Germany & Great Britain were expanding their influence in the Pacific the US  wanted to block Germany who had taken control of W. Samoa in 1899.

In 1871 the US signed a treaty with the local chieftain for an exclusive use of the harbour, which was one of the deepest in the Pacific. The US wanted to create a coaling station for their steamers. It was also in an area of one of the best whaling areas in the world.

In April 1900 the US flag was raised over Tutuila, which is the name of the island, to stop Germany from expanding their influence, because they had already claimed W. Samoa.

My visit to American Samoa was in 1987, which had been arranged by our W. Samoa agent because TNT Skypak wanted an agency in Pago Pago.

Samoa Air

We flew to American Samoa from Western Samoa, at that time Samoa was called Western Samoa, the name did not change until 1997 when the country became just Samoa.

Some of the passengers on our flight were weighed before being allowed to board, and some of us were not.
As you see the aircraft was small, so every kilo was counted and the Western Samoans are known for their size.
The flight from Apia to Pago Pago was not long, about forty-five minutes, but it was still an international flight. Our baggage was stowed behind the last passenger.
We flew at our maximum height, which was 4,500 feet (about 1370 mtrs) above sea level, and there is a lot of sea to be seen in that 45 minutes.

Our Samoan agent and I acted as OBCs (on board couriers) carrying documents from Australia, New Zealand and Samoa. Our new man in Pago Pago was an accountant who already had three businesses as well as being a public accountant, so he now had to learn the international courier industry jargon, because we were carrying his first consignments.

We landed at Tafuna Airport (airline code PPG), which is about seven miles (11 km) from the city.
The road to the city wound round the base of the mountain, which only allowed one lane of traffic in each direction. The road was very crowded and narrow so trying to pass the vehicle in front was not recommended. The journey took us over half an hour and the humidity was off the scale, plus the vehicle was not air-conditioned so within minutes of leaving the airport we were dripping with perspiration.
My first impression of American Samoa was not positive due to the very poor maintenance of such an important road between the airport and the city.
In 1987 the population of Tutuila Island was about 36,000.

2-Rainmaker (2)

The hotel that our Samoan agent had booked looked very inviting, the Rainmaker Hotel, which used to be called the Pacific’s Intercontinental Hotel.

poolside1

The above is from an early advert for the hotel – it was not as attractive when I visited, but it was the only hotel on the island! 

The hotel began life in 1965 and was refurbished after a US fighter plane crashed into it in 1980. The accident cost the lives of six servicemen and two tourists.

1200px-RAINMAKER_HOTEL,_PAGO_PAGO,_AMERICAN_SAMOA  A shot of the hotel when closed.

After a nice cold shower, I was given a tour of the town by our new agent. It was interesting, but my over whelming memory is the smell of fish. It did not matter where you were I could smell fish. Pago Pago housed the fourth largest tuna processing works in the world. 
The canning of fish and pet food, with the processing of fish bones and skin into fish meal did not help the atmosphere of the island.

Pan Am

In 1946 Pan American Airlines started a service from the US to Sydney via Pago Pago using a DC4.

DC7

In 1956 Pan Am updated to a DC7 

DC3

In 1959 Polynesian Airlines (Apia based) began a service between W. Samoa and American Samoa using a DC3.

This is how the rich and famous arrived at Aggie Grey’s Hotel in Apia.

Once again, even though the fish smell was strong I still found joy visiting places that I had read about, so of course I had to follow in Somerset Maugham’s footsteps as I had read Rain, which he wrote while in American Samoa.

Somerset Maugham - CopySomerset Maugham 1874 – 1965

Somerset Maugham was visiting the Pacific Islands in 1916. His ship Sonoma arrived in Pago Pago where he left the ship and took up residence in a guesthouse.

1920px-SADIE_THOMPSON_BUILDING This is the guest house were Somerset Maughan and his companion stayed for six weeks while he wrote the outline of a short story called Miss Thompson.

He used some of the passengers on the Sonoma as models for character in his story. There was a single lady travelling on her own, who became Miss Sadie Thompson in Maughan’s book. 

Sometime later when he was finalising his story from notes, while staying at a Hollywood hotel, he met an American playwright who was roaming around the hotel one night because he could not sleep. His name was John Colton and Maugham thought he would offer his new story to Colton to read, and perhaps it would help him to sleep.

The following morning Colton wanted to buy the story and turn it in to a play. Somerset Maugham agreed, but Colton did not have enough money to buy the rights, so Maughan offered his hand and said we split any profits 50 – 50 and John Colton agreed. 

While in America Somerset Maughan was also trying to find someone to buy his story. A magazine called The Smart Set bought the story.

220px-Smart-Set-April-1921-FC

It was published in 1921, which opened a new avenue for Maughan’s work.

Later when Miss Thompson was to be included in a book of Somerset Maughan’s short stories the title was changed to Rain

It was as Rain that the play ran in New York for 608 performances between November 1922 and May 1924.

In 1928 it was made into a silent film with Gloria Swanson in the lead part.

Gloria

In 1932 it was Joan Crawford who had the lead part in a film called ‘Rain’.

Later it was June HavocJune_Havocwho played Sadie Thompson

and in 1953 Miss Sadie Thompson was played by

Sadie

Rita Hayworth

Blue Pacific Blues

Click on the link for a little bit of the film and Rita Hayworth singing . . or you might give a round of applause to Jo Ann Geer, who did all of Rita Hayworth’s singing.

RitaThe guesthouse (now renamed) where Somerset Maughan stayed in 1916 has become so famous that they have a sign outside.

sign

On the first picture of the guest house, you will see a yellow sign, I cropped it out for clarity. 

Now back to the Rainmaker Hotel – and the surrounds – the ‘mountain’ that dominates Pag Pago is the cause of the high amount of rain that drenches the town, so even though the mountain is called Mt Pioa it is more commonly known as the Rainmaker Mountain, hence the name of the hotel.
Pago Pago harbour has the highest rainfall of any harbour in the world.

The Rainmaker Hotel had 250 rooms and was THE place to stay, with famous guests such as Marlon Brando, William Holden etc who were on their way to Aggie Grey’s in Apia.

failed

The Rainmaker Hotel fell into disrepair and became derelict, and was demolished in 2015

BUT . . . there is always but . . . 

sadie_thompson_inn.jpg (2)

Sadie Thomason Inn flourished

and

f564582c_z

Sadie’s by the Sea flourishes

0f4efde7_z

I wonder what Somerset Maughan would have thought of Sadie’s today,
but sex sells, because Sadie Thomason was a deported prostitute from Hawaii, which is why she was on the Sonoma.

Tusitala part two

1986

In 1926 Aggie married Charles Grey

When one reads the history of Samoa, particularly through the 1800s to the mid-1900s the list of characters that flowed in and around Apia, the capital of Samoa, would keep a Hollywood producer in work for years.

Aggie grew up across the road from the International Hotel and one day, when she was a child, she saw carpenters dismantling the wooden building very carefully. This strange happening was mentioned to her father who told Aggie and her sisters that a Mr Hetherington had bought the building and planned to rebuild it on the bank of the Vaisigano river.

The International Hotel was rebuilt exactly as it was originally in 1870.

There was a character known locally as ‘Obliging Bob’ for his good manners and how he managed the International Hotel.

Robert Easthope (aka Obliging Bob) was born in England (Cumberland) in 1848.
At an early age he picked life at sea as his career and ended up in Samoa in 1894. By February 1896 he was managing a hotel called Club Hotel followed by The Tivoli and then the International, which was the most popular at that time.

Tivoli

His nick name came about because he was well mannered, and nothing was too much trouble. He would use his own boats to ferry his guests to their ship, which would be moored in the harbour before sailing.

When he died in 1932 at 84 years old, he was the oldest British resident in Samoa.
Billy Hughes, the slave trader used to drink in the International Hotel before it moved to its present location. When I visited this hotel Billy Hughes would have recognised the outside, nothing had changed.

 

AG 1989

On my second trip to Apia, I stayed at Aggie Grey’s again and it had changed somewhat. This time I was not shown to the fale as I expected, but taken upstairs to the ‘new’ extension, which was airconditioned and overlooked the sea. It was a pleasant hotel room, but not as ‘Samoan’ as the fale. The above picture is the ‘new’ hotel.

A little bit more about Aggie Grey – when she was a child she watched the International Hotel be rebuilt, but little did she know of her future connection with this hotel. 

Charlie and Aggie were great entertainers, but there was a problem, Charlie was a gambler, and they had three children, plus Aggie’s four children from her first marriage. Her entrepreneur skills showed early because when she was in her early twenties, she opened the Cosmopolitan Club. 

Later in 1933 she borrowed £200 to buy the old British Club, which was renamed ‘Aggies’ through which she sold illegal alcohol because the New Zealand Government, who controlled Western Samoa, declared the island to be ‘dry’.  The ‘dryness’ included Europeans as well as the local islanders. The Europeans were not happy.

The British Club had been the old International Hotel. 

To get around the problem of ‘dryness’ the NZ Government authorised the medical officer in Samoa to issue ‘points’ to the Europeans and depending on your position in society and rank, you were allocated ‘points’ on a monthly basis. Technically the points were for the use of alcohol for medical purposes. This system went on until after 1960!

beer

Today Samoa has its own brewery bought from Germany.

In 1942 the Americans arrived due to the war in the Pacific and Maggie opened a snack bar selling coffee and burgers from a location next to the current hotel, and she also operated a sandwich cart around the streets. Things were picking up – but in 1943 her husband Charlie, died. She was now on her own with children to feed, so had to come up with an income.
She moved the business in to the old British Club, which was now called Aggies, and Aggie Grey’s was born.

From this location besides the food, they also sold ‘bush gin’ which was a palm toddy at $2 a bottle.
The toddy was created from the coconut palm tree and a local would climb thirty feet (nine meters) up the palm tree to tap into the sap, and allow it to drip in to a glass jar.

Barley-Water-Benefits-For-Skin-Hair-Health

The tree sap looked like barley water.   

The liquid had a fizzy tang to it . . . 

Wiley

There was an unfortunate incident due to ‘bush gin.’ The Admiral Wiley Pictured above) was anchored in the harbour and unloading stores. The Captain went ashore for a few glasses of bush gin, which caused him to become unsteady.
It was dark and the only way the captain could return to his ship was via a native boat, but the instructions were that native boats were not allowed near military ships. The watch keeping sailor on the ship could not believe that the person in the native craft was his captain.
After a long argument the sailor allowed the captain to board and the Captain went to his cabin.
The captain still full of bush gin, was as mad as anything at the idea of being refused to board his own ship, so he left his cabin and started firing his pistols at the sailor. The sailor had no choice but to return fire and killed his Captain.

The First Mate was told to take command and to be prepare for sailing. The problem was that the First Mate worked in haberdashery before he had joined the navy and had taken a six week crash course in commanding a merchant ship – he was incapable of taking the ship to sea, so the ship had to wait for a competent merchant seaman officer to arrive and take the ship to sea.

During the time that the Americans were located in Samoa they had to place military police outside Aggie Grey’s premises because officers would arrive in jeeps but when they wished to drive back to their ship or barracks, they would find that the jeep had been stacked on rocks because the wheels were missing, the petrol had been syphoned and parts of the engine were missing.
The local Samoan society believed that everything that they owned was available for anyone to use, so it was not theft but a cultural problem for the Americans.   

The war was over and James A Mitchener a naval historical officer wrote

Tales of the south pacific

This edition was published in 1947

Michener became friendly with Aggie, and I believe that she contributed her ideas during the editing process.
I must admit that reading his book while wandering around the South Pacific added to the experience for me.
One might say that James A. Mitchener became the Tusitala of the 20th Century Pacific Islands.

James-Michener

   James A. Mitchener 1907 -1997

In 1952 ‘Return to Paradise’ a Mitchener story was turned in to a film and Gary Cooper played the lead role. The American crew stayed at Aggies and at the Casino run by Aggie’s sister, there were a total of fifty Americans, but in every other aspect the US film company used local Samoans and the dancing girls (Samoan dancing) were trained under Aggie. 

roberta-haynes

Roberta Haynes 1927 – 2019

Aggie also directed and trained Roberta Haynes in her dance sequences. 

Roberta Haynes’ ashes were taken back to Samoa by her son and interred at a chapel at the Return to Paradise resort in 2019.

If you wish to see a short piece of the film click below.

Return to Paradise

In addition to Gary Cooper 1901-1961 gary-cooper-2  who was awarded three Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and a number of other awards,

  Aggie Grey’s hotel has been visited by

Dorothy Lamour 1914 – 1996,  dorothy-lamour-6 She received a citation from the US Government for selling $300 million worth of War Bonds during WW2. She was known as the ‘Bond Bombshell’. 

 

Marlon Brando 1925-2004,  marlon-brando Two Academy Awards, Three BAFTAs, Two Golden Globes.

 

Raymond Burr 1917-1993, raymond-burrTwo Emmy awards & and a stamp issue by Canadian Postthumb_raymond-burr-canada-stamp

 

Robert Morley 1908-1992, Robert Morley  CBE, but he declined a Knighthood

 

William Holden 1918-1981  WILLIAMHolden Academy award winner

to name a few.

The above were film actors, who became famous due to their ability to entertain, even though they did not have Facebook, Tick Tock, , Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube nor did they Twitter on & on . . . but they were good at their job and entertained us.

When Gary Cooper was seriously ill and close to death amongst the huge number of well-wisher’s cards & letters there was a telegrams from Queen Elizabeth and the Pope, and a phone call from President John F. Kennedy, Gary Cooper was famous, they even used his name in this song. 

Putting on the Ritz

In 1971 Aggie was ‘stamped’ with success (please excuse the pun)

stamp

Aggie

Aggie died in 1988 at 91 years of age.

Her son took over the running of the company and in 2013 Aggie Grey’s hotel was sold to Chinese investors for US$50 million and is now operated by the Sheraton Hotel Group. Aggie Grey’s Hotel is now known as the Sheraton Samoa with a subtitle ‘Aggie Grey’. 

Hotel sold

The hotel was rebuilt after major damage during the cyclone in 2012 when the Vaisigano River (which I have mentioned earlier) flooded the hotel up to the third floor (American) or second floor if you are British.

Sheraton

The hotel re-opened for business in July 2016

Tusitala part one

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My next stop was to visit our agent in Apia, Western Samoa.

Western Samoa consists of two main islands and several smaller islands.
The island called Upolu is the main island where the capital Apia is located and Faleolo airport and the airline code for this airport is APW, if you plan to visit.

map_of_samoa (2)

The distance from Faleolo airport to Apia is about 40 km (25 miles) and the trip took about 40 minutes.

Our agent was the Union Maritime Services and the agency generated about six or more courier shipments a day, which for a trading company on a small island was a lot – our agent was also the agent for cruise companies, bus tours and other shipping agencies, so generating outbound courier traffic was not a problem.

Our agent booked me in to Aggie Grey’s Hotel, which was a joy for me having read about this lady.

1986The entrance to Aggie Grey’s Hotel when I arrived.

I was allocated a fale and I knew what a fale was, and wondered how private it would be  . . 

samoan-fale-in-amanave

The above is a fale – or house without walls – but I need not have worried because I was shown to a fale near the pool at Aggie Grey’s.

Fale

The fale that I was allocated looked something like this, it had a bed that was on a raised area, like a stage, above the rest of the floor and I looked down on the sitting area.

river

I later found out that because the hotel was located alongside the Vaisigano River, which had a tendance to flood in heavy rain – hence the raised bedded area.

My fale had an air-conditioning unit above the sitting area, a little noisy, but I soon got used to the sound, which was preferable to the humidity at night.   

When I stepped out of my fale I had this to look forward to . . 

pool

The dining room was tropical with a difference compared to other Pacific Islands that I’d visited – in Aggies a huge amount of tropical fruit was available.
Large ceiling fans kept the dining area cool, and I was never bothered with flies or insects.

apwsi-walkway-2809-hor-clsc-Copy
As I walked along the pathway to the dining room bananas hanging from the support poles were available – I could help myself as I walked – the bananas were not very large just over a mouthful, but they had a very pleasant taste.

Musa-Ice-Cream-HARDY-BANANA-PLANT-Tasty-Fruit

From memory they were called apple bananas.

The above picture is how the walkway looks today, but not all that different than in 1987. 

In the evening being a lone travel, I always have a book with me but instead of being shown to a single table I was ushered to a table with four or five others and introduced by the head waiter.
It turned out that we were all lone travellers wondering around the Pacific Islands on behalf of our companies, and later in my trip I did meet some of my dining companions in other locations.

At the end of the meal a bottle of port was placed in the middle of the table with the compliments of Aggie’s Hotel, a nice gesture that helped the chat amongst strangers.

A little about Aggie – her father was an English man, William J. Swann, who was born in England in 1859 and while he was a boy his family moved to New Zealand. At seventeen he was sent back to England to study medicine. He was home sick but bright, and passed his exams to become a chemist, like his father.

The Swann family moved to Fiji in 1867 where William concentrated on tropical diseases and later became a ship’s apothecary that traded around the Pacific islands. After some years he gave up the sea and decided to settle in Apia in Samoa and opened a business as a chemist. 

In 1891 Swann courted and married Pele the daughter of a local chief. The wedding was a great time for feasting and celebration. 

At the wedding was an honoured guest of the bridegroom, Robert Louis Stevenson, who had arrived in Apia in December 1889 and loved the place so much that he bought land just outside Apia, which became Vailima estate.

R L Stev

Robert Louis Stevenson 

R.L Stevenson became known in Samoa as Tusitala, which means ‘writer of stories’ in Samoan. 
1890.Vailima.Samoa_

Robert Louis Stevenson’s house Vailima in 1890 – he died 3rd December 1894.

Swann and Stevenson became very good friends, and they would often dine at a particular Chinese ‘shanty’ restaurant near the water’s edge. This place was owned by Kai Sue who used to talk about his time with Bully Hayes who was a well-known ‘black birder’ and shady character.
Bully Hayes had Shanghaied Kai Sue because he needed a cook aboard his schooner. Hayes kept Kai Sue on his ship for over two years.   

220px-Only_known_photograph_of_William_Henry_Bully_Hayes

The above picture is of “Bully” Hayes aka William Henry Hayes and is dated 1863 – it is believed that another ship’s cook in 1877, after being threatened by Bully Hayes, shot him and threw him overboard. Nobody was concerned about his death.
If anyone is interested in ‘Blackbirding’& ‘Bully’ check out a book called ‘Cannibal Cargoes’ by Hector Holthouse.

Back to the Swann’s children – their first child was Maggie, who was born in 1893, their second child was Agnes Genevieve born in October 1897, and their third child, Mary was born 1899. 

Protestant-Church-Apia

In 1917 Aggie married Gordon Hay-Mackenzie, a New Zealander who was the manager for the Union Steam Ship Company in Samoa.

They had three services on their wedding day – a church service at the Protestant church, a service so that they were married under New Zealand law, and finally a service so as to be married under Samoan law.

As you see the church is quite famous and has adorned a stamp for 50 sene, which means 50 cents.
A Samoan Tala (ST) or dollar at today’s rate of ST 1 = about $0.50 AUD 0r $0.36 USD.
In 1918, during the global flu epidemic, Aggie boarded the Talune for the voyage back to Apia after visiting New Zealand.

eight_col_Talune S.S Talune

The passengers onboard feared the disease as did Aggie, but she became ill during the voyage and nearly died.
Once the passengers left the ship in Apia the flu spread far and wide. The Samoans did not have resistance to this disease and thousands died. Fortunately, Aggie survived. 

To put it in perspective, during the flu epidemic in 1918, Europe lost 1.1 % of their population, but in Samoa 90% of the population were affected and 30% of adult men, 22% of adult women, and 10% of children died.

Robert-Logan-reading-proclamation-of-occupation-in-Samoa-August-30-1914

Colonel Robert Logan

Colonel Robert Logan was the New Zealand Administrator for Samoa having held the position since the outbreak of war in 1914.
He did not have enough people to help bury the dead from the epidemic.
Many were cremated, but the Samoan Islanders were not keen on this so the Colonel gathered Solomon Islanders and Germans who were still in Samoa after WWI to dig a large pit to bury the dead.
The Solomon Islanders were then told to find the dead and to place the bodies in the pit.
To sweeten the unpleasantness for the Solomon islanders the Colonel gave each worker two ‘nobblers’ of whisky, which is about 10 fluid ounces or just under a half of today’s standard bottle of whisky!  

They had just about filled one pit and had found a Chinese man in a fale stretched out, so they picked him up and placed him in the pit.
The Solomon Islanders began to scatter lime across the bodies when the Chinese man came back to life (he had been asleep) and ran off.
The islanders chased the man shouting that the doctor had said he was dead, so he must be dead, so stop running so that we can bury you properly.

Thankfully due to the ‘nobblers’ they soon tired of chasing the ‘dead’ Chinese man.   

In 1925 Aggie’s husband Gordon Hay-Mackenzie became ill with tuberculosis and went to New Zealand in the hope of a cure, unfortunately he died soon after arriving in New Zealand.

Age 12 cropAggie in 1912 

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