Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Any Given Sunday

Last Sunday we had the Maritime Festival, the week before that we had Mattara & this week we had a visit by the superliner, Sun Princess. Like I said in an earlier entry, there is always something happening on Newcastle Harbour.

The 77,000 tonne Sun Princess is one of Princess Cruises ships that are now doing the lucrative
Australian summer market & is making Newcastle one of their ports of call, supposedly injecting $500,000 into the local economy with each visit. Princess Cruises have penciled in another two
visits this season & from 2010 P&O Cruises will be basing one of their ships, the Pacific Sun, in Newcastle to tap into this market.

The Sun Princess is a modern superliner built in 1995 for around $400million, can carry around 2,000 passengers & has quite an impressive array of features & on board activities to enjoy. Try these out;
  • Over 400 staterooms include balconies
  • Wrap-round promenade deck
  • 24-hour buffet/bistro with 270-degree view over bow
  • Poolside hamburger grill and ice cream bar
  • Pizzeria and premium steakhouse
  • Wine and caviar bar
  • Patisserie
  • Four-storey atrium lobby with ocean views
  • Two show lounges
  • Spa with ocean-view gymnasium
  • Sports court and jogging track
  • Four swimming pools
  • Bay view listening library
  • Computerized golf centre
  • Lavish casino
  • Gallery of shops
  • Business centre
So these ships are virtually floating palaces & wherever they go they generate great media & public interest.

The Sun Princess only stayed for a day in Newcastle & visitors apparently spent a their time up in
wineries, or at the Darby Street Festival, enjoying some of the best food & wine that the Hunter has to offer.

So at 6pm the Sun Princess left from Dyke No1 & headed north to Brisbane, continuing its circumnavigation of Australia. Due to the 261 metre length of the Sun Princess, the ship had to perform a '3 point turn', between Queens Wharf & Stockton to leave the harbour. This was in itself was quite a spectacular operation, with the tugs &
the ship all working in unison.

Yep, Newcastle really does know how to put on a celebration for our visiting nautical tourists, from the perfect weather, 1,000's of well wishers waving goodbye from the foreshore & Fort Scratchley firing her guns in salute, it was a truly wonderful sight.

So when the Dawn Princess pays Newcastle a visit on the 10th December 2009, grab your camera & get down to the Foreshore & celebrate this unique occasion.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If You Ever Get The Chance, Come & See The Tugboats Dance

One thing that Newcastle does well & that is we put on events that showcase the fabulous harbour location. Whether it is New Years Eve, Australia Day, the Mattara Festival & even
Truck Awareness Day is held next to the glittering jewel that showcases all the beauty of this wonderful city.

This time it was the 2009 Maritime Festival, celebrating 210 years of Newcastle being Australia's 1st commercial port & although the weather was as co-operative as it could have been, the day was still spectacular.

There were skydivers, The RAAF Roulettes Flying Team, RAAF Hornets flyovers, stunts planes,heaps of stalls, free music & heaps more to see. Of course most of the action was centered around the harbour, where you could step aboard the HMAS Parramatta or the James Craig tall ship, watch the jet ski or wakeboard racing & watch the Newcastle Port Corporation tugboats perform their very special ballet routine.

Late in the afternoon the 292 mtr, 91,373 GRT (gross registered tonnage) bulk carrier Genco
London left port bound for Taiwan fully loaded with Hunter coal. This ship is one of the largest bulk carriers that visit Newcastle & can only leave on the highest tide due to the fact that she only has 1.5 mtrs clearance under her keel, which doesn't leave much room for error! If you look closely at the attached photo, you'll notice
the fisherman in the runabout trying desperately to start their engine to get out of the way of the wash from this huge vessel.

It was a really highly entertaining day & the best part part was that most activities were free. Yep, Newcastle really knows how to turn on a special day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When Cockies Come A Callin'

Each October the Sulphur - Crested Cockatoo, or Cacatua Galerita, as they are known in scientific circles, make an annual pilgrimage to Warabrook to feed on the pine nuts supplied by my next door neighbours trees.

The Sulphur - Crested Cockatoo, or as it is more commonly known the cockie, is one of the most iconic birds in the Australian bush and can be found through out Australia. The cockie, is a large white parrot, it has a dark grey-black bill, a distinctive sulphur-yellow crest and a yellow wash on the underside of the wings. The humble Cockie is one of the most identifiable and gregarious birds of the Australian bush. 

If you can't see this bird in it's natural habitat you certainly will not miss its wonderful birdsong. This recording is courtesy of the Australian Museum.

Other interesting facts about our Australian birds can be found at www.birdsinbackyards.net/

Ok, it' not quite tuneful, wonderful or melodic as some other bird species, however, it is unmistakable and is one of the real sounds of the Australian outback

The much maligned cockatoo is really considered a pest in some quarters because of it destructive habits such as chewing decking, window frames ect., however, I do think it is the most majestic birds of the Australian bush.

So along with kangaroos, Aussie Rules football, meat pies, Vegemite and Holden cars, the humble cockie is part of our landscape, a part of Australia that I never want to lose.