Not Even a Mutiny

Where to now? Out Sydney Heads and turn left that be where we are headed landlubbers - welcome back blog readers both new and old. I hope you enjoy. 

A Beginning
Looking back towards Sydney Harbour from between the Heads as we exit stage left. Sailing on a Jewel where all is taken care of. Finding out more stories and experiencing some of the places where The Bounty took its famous journey and William Bligh and Fletcher Christian gained some infamy. All this and more shall be reported on in this blog.
But first, two days at sea loom as a welcome chance to do very little before Norfolk Island arrives on the horizon.
Leaving Sydney was an adventure itself - just in case anyone might be wondering the picture above has some icons that can be identified - can you find them all?

Going on.....
Arrival at Norfolk Island heralded a shore day and although it has been 32 years since we had last visited it still seemed very familiar. Green and picturesque it doesn't always represent some of the brutality of the early convict settlements. First started in 1788 and later abandoned  with a second settlement in 1825 which was eventually abandoned in1856 at which time the  Pitcairn settlers were moved on the Island and the rest they say is history. 
Population is around 1800 people - the addition of travellers numbering 1100 nearly doubled to population for the day. The local radio announcer gave regular updates on the arrival and activities of the tourists while also asking if anyone had found Darren's wallet last night (must have been a big night on Norfolk Island last night!).
So some sights we enjoyed: 

A high point - view from Mount Pitt

Having hired a car we were ready to cover the 8km by 5km island. We had places which we wanted to revisit from dodgy memories and we surprised ourselves with the finds we made.
We found a local Adams descendant whose home and garden, he had been building since 1975, was open for a visit with tea and cake included - it was delightful. This was in close proximity to some Tea Rooms we remembered visiting - all good so far.
Known as Bloody Bridge and built by convicts and no doubt their blood - another location we remembered - so far so good. And finally some of the convict settlement buildings

The return to the ship was an event with a low tide and some rough seas - it so didn't look rough but once on a tender it was very bouncy indeed!! Back on board and two more days at sea before the next landfall - lots to enjoy before then.

Vava'u is va, va Boom
Many a laugh today and this picture is certainly one of them!! So where were we up to? We have just indulged two days of reading, talking, laughing, eating, listening to live music (both good and bad) did I mention eating? while also moving two hours ahead of Sydney time - clever huh! So today we arrived at the tiny group of Islands called Vava'u which are part of the Kingdom of Tonga.

Arriving at Vava'u involved a lot of wind - and I was definitely Blowin' In the Wind. (another laughing moment).

A tender ride to the town of Neiafu with all the requisite shops:
Post Office and Treasury Building.
Computer and copy solutions - I think Ian may have needed this one today - check his blog for the story! And always the market.... try saying this one with or without a mouthful of watermelon.
So we joined a tour - our first but not our last and we squished and slipped our very hot bodies onto some very tiny mini bus seats with about 20 other squished and slippery hot tourists - not all in prime condition but then again neither was the bus so it all fitted or not really but we laughed lots! The bus did have flowers stuck onto it with sticky tape so what more could we ask and besides seat belts are not at all decorative anyway.

 We ploughed through streets? roads? well tracks maybe - where the greenery was getting a much needed trimming, and I was wearing much of it on the window side of the seat, as the bus hurtled to a beach where we watched an umu being built - well dug out and filled - an underground oven was just the ticket in the afternoon sun!!!
The sensible woman in green with the megaphone and black umbrella (a particular favourite of mine) knew how to get the lads working! No footwear required for this job - and they didn't hurt themselves at all!!

Onwards in our slippery bus - next stop a vanilla farm -

One of the delightful girls who were our guides for the adventure. They always looked glamourous - unlike the bus load!!
Our final pit - or maybe it should be called a slip - stop was a beach where we had a swim and took underwater pictures which gave us more cause for laughter - I tried to get some perspective for this picture of the relative size of the star fish - epic fail!!!!
I think I should call it quits now - Ian caused much laughter with his homeward mishap - check his blog.

See you in Nuku'alofa tomorrow.

It's Tomorrow in Nuku'Alofa
After a lulling night's sleep we have arrived in the port of Nuku'Alofa which translates to 'home of love' and it is the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga. A vibrant, green, chaotic and steamy centre which also has many a Breadfruit tree, as well as roaming chickens and pigs with lots of people and vehicles heading in various directions without colliding with each other.
Our second shore tour for this port was a visit to Captain Cook's Landing site with a cultural demonstration done by the locals - most acceptable.
But before we arrive some images that wizzed by as the bus, a big one today, headed towards its destination.
There are lots of churches on this Island - their faith is evidently important and although it seems to be a strong christian influence there is also evidence of a blend of island spirituality as well.
The International Dateline Hotel - looking a little worn by the climate. Much of the metal is rusted and the damp that comes with the humidity wears buildings down - I can see why the use of local and more temporary buildings in timber and palms can be desirable - but then there is the besser block and concrete and these seem to be popular for now.
Local corner shops offer all sorts of goodies.

One of the main streets. There were about three I think.
Some local housing.
At the landing spot!
Girls cooking in the umu - yummy. We sampled some chicken and tapioca before we left!!
Girls making Tapa cloth from the bark of the Mulberry Tree.
A completed piece of tapa cloth with painted decorations done by the girls.
Girls doing traditional dance. So the girls were a busy lot - the boys played guitars and sang.
A most informative day - we wandered back to town and called in to the market and some local shops - although one elderly fellow traveller had reliable informed us that visiting the town wasn't worth it because there was no K-Mart or the like I can happily say it was definitely worth the visit!!

Sailing tomorrow as we pass by the various locations for the Bounty story - Noumuka Island and Toufa Island.

Bula, Bula from Suva

It's been two days since I blogged and as you can see I have found my own street in Suva!! But back to yesterday first - Mutiny time. This part of the journey involved cruising by Nomuka Island (picture below) - the last island the Bounty visited before the mutiny took place.
Then onto the location where Fletcher Christian and Co set Captain Bligh off in an open boat with 17 loyal men - a mutiny in fact.
That's me doing a "Oh no it's a mutiny" look.
On from The Mutiny location to Tofua, where Captain Bligh and his loyalists took refuge after being set adrift. It is now an island where about 50 people live and it has a very sporting smoking volcano!

In spite of the background cloud the smoke, I can assure you, is coming out of the volcano.
To end the evening a screening of The Bounty with Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian and Anthony Hopkins as William Bligh was most fitting as we rolled along on the waves and watched those on the big screen do so as well - albeit that ours was a much more comfortable journey.
Early morning arrival in Suva - coming into a harbour with a very narrow access channel - interesting mountain shapes on one side and a city on the other.
Headed off into the city after breakfast to find a bustling and happy place being greeted with Bula ( Hello I think) by all and sundry. Shops, markets and people all providing an entertaining morning.
We returned to the ship at noon to meet up with a pair of exceptional women we had met during our dinner engagements - this was to be the first shore day they had encountered and what a fun afternoon we had with them.

Top shopping with Hayley and our personal sales help - great fun!
And as we bid farewell to Suva we are entertained by the Police Band - just super! They may be a long way down but they sounded great.
A most excellent day. We now head for Port Denarau and then to Dravuni Island - catch you there.

Shiny, shiny, shiny

On arrival, via tender, at Port Denarau - we were greeted by the doof, doof sounds emanating from The Hard Rock Cafe not quite how I had imagined the day beginning. This Port is 'man made' I believe it was mangrove swamp but it has been claimed and now is a shiny, very shiny resort with all the names - Radisson, Westin, Sofitel - you get the picture.
So what to do?
1. Take pictures.
2. Walk around the resorts - too hot - so found a bus that did the rounds of the resorts and we thought maybe further - we were wrong - it's all about the resorts.
3. Play swords with a Poinsettia seed pod because I remember doing this as child in New Guinea.
4. Explore further afield - so found a local yellow 'Westbus' to take us to Nadi for $1 unlike the resort bus which cost $7. 

Yep the door stays open and the wind whips around - still we made it as you can see Ian out of the bus above.
So we jumped onto the bus with shiny red seats, a twinings tea box for ticket money and you pay at the end of the run - I think this because there is a distinct possibility you make not get to the destination - our return journey would put a formula one race to shame!! 
As the bus filled up the children got prime spots!!
A small town / village similar to Suva and nothing like Port Denarau. Loud music and announcements are the norm it appears for any shopping district! Lots of fireworks for Happy Diwali - an Indian festival.

Some businesses on Main Street.
A temple at the end of Main Street.
A market in Main Street. It seems that the markets are dominated by native Fijians and the businesses are dominated by the Fijian Indian population and the differences bounce around culminating in the occasional coup and yet the life and work keeps happening. A very interesting place to visit!!
No water activity today - to access the waterfront you need to make arrangements with one of the resorts. So tomorrow promises a snorkelling and swimming day on Dravuni Island.

I'd like to be under the sea

And I was!! Spectacular day on Dravuni Island a tiny spot in the ocean and one of the 332 islands that collectively make up Fiji.
As you can see it is a tiny Island but it is home to about 200 locals with a school and dwellings - no images sorry - we took lots of underwater pictures and ran out of battery. Imagine a classic tropical island with some some substantial buildings with verandahs and shutters as well as huts augmented with corrugated iron, satellite dishes and lots of ropes to tie down all of this in the winds - at least I presume it is about the winds because today was just perfect - a cool sea breeze with lots of sunshine.
Under the water provided colour, colour and colour and this was just where we jumped off the tender.
These are some of the snaps capturing the life underwater on the shores of the island - we even saw a couple of clam shells whose locking lips looked like luscious speckled brown fishy lips.
Another super, duper day!! At sea tomorrow and then in Noumea the next day.
Blog you later all.

Bonjour... yes we are in Noumea

After a hard days rest and reading we have adjusted the clocks again - time travel is way cool - and arising early watched the ship manoeuvre into the harbour of Noumea - on the Grande Terre.  A very beautiful place.
Once docked we went off to wander the city - visit the local market, find the museum and then have a baguette - all fun and very French too.

I'm outside a Melanesian Hut - housed in the museum - lots of thatching on the roof and please remove your shoes before entering.
Ian with some seriously tall palms and a tall artefact.....
The afternoon plan was to take in the city highlights with Hayley and Marjory. Lunch in a Wi fi hot spot with accompanying baguettes and pastries - Ian and Hayley appreciated the free Wi fi as well as the food! Bad image - my fault - but you get the picture - I hope.
Another delightful day - finished by enjoying a very cold and refreshing ale on deck as we watched Noumea fade in the distance.
Now we have two days cruising towards Sydney. For joining in the journey at any time - thanks - I hope it has been a little entertaining - it certainly has been all that and more for me. See you all soon!!!!!

Au Revoir.