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Somewhere along the line visitors to overseas nations are told, or believe that consumption of food and drink in  foreign places is non-hygienic; they have been told to avoid eating and drinking local produce citing health reasons. In fact, food and drink  served by majority of premises is as hygienic as would be found in Australia: perhaps more so. It is a fallacy promulgated to ensure that money is not spent ashore but does not originate from the shipping line. Visitors to Hong Kong, China and Macau and many other places are similarly cautious and miss some of the delightful culinary experiences and local drinks. By being over-careful a treat may be missed. Initially passengers from the ship would look into the bar and walk on. With a gesture from obvious fellow passengers, a few entered and the lady at the bar would suggest drinks for them,

On leaving the bay, some fifteen people remained . The French lady called “A revour et merci beau coup.” with a broad smile.

Next stop was Lifou and the Pacific Dawn Anchored in the harbour. Ship tenders were lowered and shuttled passengers to shore. Onshore tours, snorkelling and many more activities were arranged and the ship spent the day at anchor.

In late afternoon the tenders were lifted back on board and the ship was once more underway. This time the destination was Vila where the ship berthed. On both sides of the road a long line of roadside stalls  offered clothing, gifts and trinkets. The town was a reasonable long walk so a taxi is much easier.

The shops offered an abundant range of choices while a coffee shop permitted a break to watch the population, not necessarily passengers from the ship go by. Another walk and a stop at seats on an intersection close to a taxi rank. Drivers offered tours of the island at reasonable prices that were declined. Then they decided to talk. Different drivers took time to talk about the island, places of interest worth a visit, shopping and the political situation. One put his hands together indicating parliamentarians being hauled off  to prison in  handcuffs. An hour later conversations were exhausted. It was suggested that one of the taxi’s return the guests to the ship.

Once more the Pacific Dawn set out taking a north westerly course to avoid islands in the chain. The ship headed for Brisbane some two days away. Of course the merriment on board continued until finally the ship entered Morton Bay, the Brisbane River and berthed at Portside, Hamilton.

The boring part of the journey commenced. This is the embarkation and the disembarkation procedures. Once clear of customs and immigration John Smith of Prestige/Delta Limousines was waiting to leisurely convey the travellers to their home.

It is now time to review the journey; how did it compare with other places, the Peninsula and the Ghan? The seven eventful days could not really be faulted. Yes, it compared favourably however, the suites in the Peninsula were much more spacious while on the Ghan, far less spacious. It left two choices; stay at home and have a few weeks rest or do another trip. Strangely the latter holds most appeal.


                 A Friendly Bar in Noumea:                                     The Mix Bar on Gatsby Night

Below: Elephant in cabin; made of towels.

Top Right: Inebriated Monkey.

Bottom Right: Monkey Bearing Gifts: