That’s Entertainment . . . . .


The holiday has started for some . . . the beginning of another cruise for us.

In addition to our normal duties on board, plus ferrying passengers ashore in the lifeboats, we were expected to help entertain the students in the afternoons, during sea days. Most afternoons were free for the students, lessons being held in the morning on sea days.


This photograph & the one below are thanks to John Coulthard

I made sure to stay away from the girls with hockey sticks, out of respect for my ankles.


I preferred frog racing – much calmer . .

In the evenings we were expected to be around in full uniform to dance with the students – always a pleasure to comply with certain orders.
Curfew for the students was 9.00 pm.

If we extended our stay in port, while at anchor, we would have a ‘regatta’ – teams of students would man the lifeboats and ‘row’ them around the ship in a race. The only difference is that they didn’t use oars, because the lifeboats had ‘Fleming Gear’, which is a handle by each seat so that the passenger pulls the handle back and forth and a shaft drives a propeller.


The above shows the white bars, which are ‘jacked’ back and forth to drive the propeller.


The race is on . . . we cadets would dress up as pirates and shout at our ‘rowers’ – a popular film at the time was Ben Hur, which has a number of scenes of slave rowers, rowing to the beat of a drum.
So we tried this to get everyone in time . . . sometimes it worked, but . . .

On one particular cruise it was a Catholic school cruise with many younger students – ten or eleven to fourteen years old, and the teachers were the nuns. The nuns used to take part in many of the games and also the boat race. I had three nuns in the bow of my boat and my ‘crew’ were finding it hard to move the boat fast enough with the dead-weight in the bow. As a pirate I used to carry a whip, which I could crack while shouting pirate slogans such as ‘Row you swabs! faster, faster!’ and other such niceties.

The nuns, dressed in their black habit ‘uniform’ and a smaller version of the cornette, the traditional nun’s head gear, (something like the headgear in this picture),nun

were enjoying the sail until I cracked my whip and shouted for them to ‘Row, sisters!’
I was quite surprised when all three bowed and grabbed a handle and started jacking it backwards and forwards. We increased speed, but not enough to stop us coming in last.
Later I was called to see the Captain and ‘asked’ not to become too enthusiastic when shouting at the nuns, because they were also on their holiday. I could take a hint.

Also during sea days we were expected to give half hour talks about the happenings on the bridge while at sea, these talks were to both first-class passengers and students. They began at 9.30 am and went on until 4.00 pm, with a short break for lunch. The groups were quite small because we couldn’t allow too many at one time, because this would interfere with the operation of the bridge. In today’s world one would not be able to get anywhere near the bridge.

This part of our duties was nerve racking until you had your patter down to a fine art. The jokes always raised a laugh, the questions were nearly always the same, and it became enjoyable being able to speak to so many people from all walks of life.


All BI deck & engine room crews came from India. The catering staff for the Europeans were from Goa, because they were mostly catholic, which helped, because we didn’t have the religious food restrictions due to pork or beef.

I found the above photograph on the internet to give an idea of a ship’s bridge in 1965 compared to today.
Today’s bridge is all enclosed with repeater computer controls at the centre, and on each bridge wing.
In 1965 we didn’t have computers, satellite communications, and we definitely didn’t have Satnav or GPS. We used our eyes, and took bearings of prominent points of land. A bearing of the right-hand land mass and another on the left, and where they cross on the chart that’s where you were . . . this system has worked very well for centuries.


We did have primitive RADAR – compared to today’s RADAR – and an echo sounder, and a lead line for obtaining how deep the water was close to land. At times we used the echo sounder, and then cross checked with the lead line!

The Dunera had the ability to go forward or astern, plus the experience of the Master in taking her alongside without the help of thrusters – perhaps a tug to nudge her alongside.
How times have changed, the Dunera bridge wings were open to the elements, whereas today the bridge is air conditioned, and you don’t need wet weather gear to go on watch.

Today the officer on the bridge controls the engine, whereas we used to use a telegraph to communicate with the engine room.


We moved the lever to what speed we wanted. This action was mirrored by the repeater in the engine room, and the duty engineer would acknowledge the order by working the engine room repeater telegraph and mimicking the order back to the bridge. A simple system that worked well.

I digress, during the bridge chats with the students and passengers I was nearly always asked how we found our way around the ocean. Light heartedly I used to refer to the log that was streamed aft, which was used to estimate our speed.

The idea was that the ‘rocket’ shaped item, which is called a rotator, would be towed behind the ship and spin so registering our speed. The rotator would be spinning below the surface on the end of a rope. It did look as if the rope was running out from the ship in to the water. Passengers had been shown or told of how the system worked.
So, tongue in cheek I would say that the end of the rope was tied to the quay in Southampton, and when we wanted to go home, we just hauled the rope in until we reached home. Most people just laughed, or at least smiled – except one elderly lady believed me, and later was speaking to the captain about how we found our way home . . . . . I was called up by you know who, and told to change my punch lines.

The student dormitories were male or female and we had security staff that patrolled the ship at night. The head of security was called Master at Arms, who wouldn’t stand for any messing about from the students, or anyone else.

The students ranged from eleven years of age, to late teens and early twenties. I did sail with a Swiss school cruise where some of the students were a little older than me. The Swiss cruise sticks in my mind because the Swiss girls bought all the Old Spice after shave from the ship’s shop thinking it was perfume.
For me it was very disconcerting to dance with an attractive girl smelling of after shave. I had to remember to use a different brand of after shave for myself, just in case she thought I was using perfume!

Old spice

The one thing I can say about my time in Dunera, is that I was never board . .


Darwin or Palmerston or Darwin?

Our first port of call on the way to Japan was Darwin, which is the capital of Northern Australia, with a population of about 150,000.

Charles Darwin in 1881

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882

In 1839 Lieutenant John Lort Stokes of HMS Beagle, was the first British person to spot the harbour of what was to become Darwin.  Commander of the Beagle, John Wickham, named the harbour after Charles Darwin who had been a ship mate of them both in an earlier expedition while in HMS Beagle.

It is ironic that Charles Darwin never visited the town, which carries his name.

It was not until 1869 that a permanent settlement was set up by the South Australian government, who at that time was responsible for the Territory.

George Goyder, the Surveyor General of South Australia arrived with 135 men and women to settle at Port Darwin. The town that was created was called Palmerston, after the then British Prime Minister.


In the 1870’s the 3,200 km telegraph line was completed between Darwin and Port Augusta in South Australia, which connected Australia to the rest of the world.


DSC00349rI took the above pictures, considering the significance it doesn’t look much does it ?


A lot has changed in the field of communication in 147 years.

The name of Palmerston was changed to Darwin in 1911, and Darwin was granted city status in 1959 due to population growth.

As we entered Darwin harbour the sun began to rise behind us, and I love sunrise and sun sets. This one was taken from our balcony.

DSC00304rI’d checked Trip Advisor and through this web site I found a company that offered walking tours around Darwin, cheaper than the ship.

We met at 8.30 am so as to avoid the heat of the day and the walk began. Our guide was a lady who was born in the Territory and had lived and worked there all her life and there wasn’t a question she couldn’t answer.

About ten days before we arrived, Darwin suffered another cyclone and the newspapers down south just love drama, even negative drama, so one couldn’t be sure if Darwin had been blown away.
Not being a great fan of the media I e-mailed the ‘Walk’ company and John (the owner) came back with a detailed explanation as to what had happened and that there had been a large number of trees blown over, but on the whole it was ‘business as normal’. During our walk it was obvious that John was correct.

During the latest cyclone our guide told us that she had lost all power for five days – she lived in an outer suburb not in the centre. Fortunately she was able to borrow a generator and managed to save her frozen and chilled food.




DSC00328rQuite large trees were ripped out of the ground.

Christmas day in 1974 seems to be the date that Darwin reinvented itself after Cyclone Tracy destroyed the city.
Most of the buildings at that time were constructed with corrugated iron roofs and the wind, at 200 km per hour, had a field day ripping roofs apart and destroying homes and various other buildings.

DSC00319rOne of the very few remaining buildings from 1974, with a corrugated iron roof.


Darwin 1974, after the cyclone.

DSC00376rSignal tower bent by the wind in 1974 – currently in the Darwin museum.

DSC00321rDarwin town hall, which is all that remains as a memorial of the 1974 cyclone

DSC00322rInside the old town hall.


The Anglican cathedral was destroyed, but has been rebuilt.


The stone entrance if the only remaining part of the original building.


DSC00344rInside the cathedral

DSC00346rTaken from the entrance

Not far from the cathedral, in front of the new civic centre, we found the Galamarrma (banyan ) tree or tree of knowledge.

treeThe above is a photograph of a photograph, the original was taken around 1915.

Chinese youths would sit under the tree and listen to the words of wisdom from their elders – hence the tree of knowledge.
It is thought that the tree is the remains of the rainforest that was cleared to build Palmerston / Darwin in the late 1800’s.

Below is the tree today – on the right is the new civil centre and when this was about to be built to replace the one destroyed in 1974, the plans were for the tree of knowledge to be cut down. Public protests caused the civic centre to be altered by three metres to accommodate the tree.
The Terminus Hotel (which can be seen behind the tree in the B & W picture) closed in 1931 and was eventually pulled down.
China town (which was mainly to the left of the tree as we look at it ) was destroyed by fire during WW2, so the tree has a ‘grandfather’ claim to be left alone.

DSC00331rAcross the road from the tree is a semi-circle of bells commemorating 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin (1809 – 1883).
Darwin was fascinated by the different parrots in Australia, so on top of a number of the bells are models of various parrots.




DSC00335rCharles Darwin

Our guide made a phone call and suddenly the bells began to strike up a tune. I think the bells ring at certain times a day and when requested. As long as you know who to contact.

DSC00336rThere are eleven cast bronze bells in all, that play various chimes.



Model of HMS Beagle on top of one of the bells.

I tried to find a link for the chimes, but unfortunately I couldn’t find one. If you wish to know more of the background of the bells try this link Darwin bells


It was not just cyclones that tried to destroy Darwin, because in February 1942 the Japanese had a go. Two hundred and forty two Japanese planes attacked in two separate raids.

Darwin_42The smoke behind the navy vessel is due to a hit on the oil storage tanks.

The casualties consisted of 236 civilians and service men killed, thirty aircraft destroyed, eleven vessel sunk, three vessels grounded and twenty five ships damaged. The Japanese suffered four aircraft destroyed, two servicemen killed and one captured.

Four aircraft carriers were used by the Japanese in the attack, the  Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū, and the Sōryū.

All four were sunk four months later at the Battle of Midway.

Each year on the anniversary of the raid there is a memorial service held in Darwin.

On a happier note the town centre is a friendly, pleasant area . . .


I noticed two second hand book shops, and managed to stick my nose in to both.

DSC00384r.jpgDarwin is no longer a back water on the tip of Australia, but a town worth visiting for something different. The walk from the ship to the centre of town was about fifteen minutes. Darwin is used as the main base to visit the various sites in and around ‘ the top end’ of Australia.
The above picture was taken from our balcony.

The misty bit on the left could have been due to condensation on the camera lens . . . but not being a photographer I haven’t a clue what caused it . . . .








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