I couldn’t look down. Instead I gazed out across the harbour toward the old city, a beautiful view and a fitting send-off. If this was my last earthly vista, so be it. “Three! Two! One!” Then I stepped into thin air at 233 metres.
A freefall from 233m. Thankfully a soft landing (supplied)
The Macau Skyjump is the highest of its kind anywhere in the world and, according to Guinness World Records, is the World’s Highest Commercial Decelerator Descent. By comparison, the highest bungee, Bloukrans in South Africa is 216m.
Some will call this the coward’s bungee because there isn’t the dramatic elastic recoil of the long rubber variety. Instead, you’re trussed up in a harness not unlike a parachutist and hooked to a perplexing array of cables and guy wires that guide you to the bottom at nearly 80kmh.
Years ago I did three static line parachute jumps, paratrooper style, from 1500 feet. Each one scared the crap out of me, but the worst part was always the stepping out. Every nerve fibre in your body is screaming “no!” and the mental task of overcoming your self-preservation instinct is the hardest thing. Once you’re in the air and heading down, the rest is easy.
The palpable anticipation doesn’t help either and the hyped-up staff clearly delight in your terror, milking every moment as they install you in the lurid jump suit knowing that your insides are back-flipping like a circus dwarf. Fully tethered you are led to the platform like the condemned and cripes, it’s a long way up (or is that down?). The spike in your adrenalin production is the instant you step out. My heart was pounding as I free fell the first twenty metres. Then … yank! .. you come to a complete stop at 200 metres.
“Hey, look up and smile!” Yeah, it’s the photo. Try and look cool while you’re dangling in mid-air. Snap. Then the cable is “cut” and you drop like a stone toward the concrete below. This is where the decelerator bit comes in. The main cable hooked to your butt is spooling out from a giant spindle, checking your descent and maintaining your vertical velocity just below ‘fatal.’ Ten metres from pancaking on the plaza, the brakes are applied and you’re deposited neatly on the AJ Hackett target painted on the brickwork.
I’m standing up, but my knees are shaking and the adrenaline is still pumping hard – and continues to for the next couple of hours yet!
Words and pics Roderick Eime. Additional photography by Tourism Tasmania.
Once known euphemistically as “The Apple Isle”, Tasmania has shrugged off its persistent “fruit and vegetable” tag and moved up market into premium wine, particularly pinot noir, Riesling and sparkling varieties. The potential was discovered early with a medal at the 1848 Paris Exhibition but it wasn’t until the 1970s that Tasmania’s wine production was in full swing. Now the annual Hobart Wine Show is one of the most important in the country with vintages from over 140 producers.
Issue 44 – Spring 2010
Travelling from cellar door to cellar door can occupy an entire week-long journey and once you’ve tasted a few wines, you’ll want to stop by them all. Some wineries are architectural attractions in themselves like Moorilla, Meadowbank and Jansz, while other more humble establishments display their produce in converted stables like Springvale, or just a shed.
“Before I came down here I used to run a panel shop in Melbourne,” confesses Michael Vishacki of Panorama Vineyard near Hobart, “and I learned everything on the job.” Michael, unpretentious and plain speaking, certainly was paying attention. His prize pinots now sell for hundreds of dollars in Asia’s top hotels.
Despite the rapidly rising profile of the bottled product, most visitors will yield to the allure of the UNESCO World Heritage Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park where the signature accommodation is the swank Voyages Cradle Mountain Lodge.
Cradle Mountain Lodge
The raw appeal of the Tasmanian mountainscape has captured the imagination of visitors for decades and none more so than pioneering outdoorsman, Austrian-born Gustav Weindorfer, who built a rough chalet next to the iconic Dove Lake in 1912.
Weindorfer is revered as the “founder” of Cradle Mountain wilderness recreation and is fondly remembered as an eccentric, idealistic yet jovial man who would host guests with generous lashings of his garlic and badger (wombat) stew.
“A mixture that would kill me in five minutes,” recalled local Bill Perkins in a eulogy to the colourful Austrian in 1982.
The more serious walkers can take specially organised and guided packages utilising a series of private eco-friendly huts over a six-day itinerary that incorporates the very best of the park. Each day’s walking is about four hours and includes food, accommodation and a loan jacket, but if you do nothing else, be sure to complete the Dove Lake circuit, a relaxed two hour dawdle around this imposing feature that is one of Australia’s most instantly recognisable vistas next to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) and the Sydney’s Harbour Bridge.
If walking is your passion, and Tasmania is one of the world’s great walking destinations, scoot over to the east coast for the other signature Tasmanian track, the Bay of Fires Walk. The four day coastal trek passes through the Mount William National Park and culminates in a sublime kayak along Ansons River frequented by sea eagles and platypuses. With one night en route at the Forester Beach Camp and two at the Bay of Fires Lodge, groups are limited to just ten walkers.
The lodge itself is situated 40 metres above a secluded white sand beach ideal for a quick, invigorating dip or snorkel. A model of ecologically sensitive construction, the award-winning pavilion is solar powered and features composting latrines and its own massive rainwater tanks.
“This is where we get a few ‘ohs and ahs’, says Daisy, a Californian science graduate now a full-time guide at Bay of Fires, as we consume the sweeping vista across a perfectly white beach on the Abbotsbury Peninsula directly beneath us. Behind us is the historic Eddystone Point Lighthouse which marks the island’s easternmost point. The view goes on forever. “On a day like today, you can just make out Cape Barren Island” (nearly 50kms to the north).
In the centre of Tasmania are the alpine lakes and craggy mountains that make such great postcards. Plum in the middle of the island and on the eastern border of the vast UNESCO World Heritage-listed Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Tarraleah, a former hydro-electric working town is now a delightful hamlet pared down from its original sprawl to just the core buildings. The schoolhouse, church, hotel, supermarket, hall and chalet have all been reborn to serve the new single-minded community dedicated to natural pursuits such as bushwalking, trout fishing, canoeing, mountain-biking and bird-watching.
“Ten to two … pause …. flick,” implores fishing master Robbie as I struggle with the expensive rod and reel. Robbie’s meticulously tied fly obediently skits back and forth over the training pond as mine circles erratically then dives pathetically a few feet from shore. Trout fishing is a relaxing, almost transcendental pursuit, I’m told. Catching the fish is surely secondary to training emu feather dry flies to lure finicky trout. Still, I persist.
The old art-deco chalet has undergone the greatest transformation and is now a multi-award-winning lodge offering superior dining with a nightly degustation menu and spa treatments in the newly-constructed bathhouse adjacent.
Tasmania is a member of that elite geographic group of the world’s most southern inhabited lands, the executive of which includes just New Zealand’s South Island and Patagonia. In a world apparently shrinking through globalization and mass transit, venturing to the ends of the Earth may just be the escape clause we need.
Doing It: Tarraleah Estate is situated on 300 acres surrounded by national park and World Heritage temperate rainforest. The self-contained adventure town offers a range of activities including world-class trout fishing, bushwalking and canoeing and is supported by a range of accommodation options from restored cottages to luxury lodge and motel-style. Lodge rates from AUD$395pp inc meals and use of amenities.. www.tarraleah.com +61 3 6289 3222
Anthology – The Travellers Collection operates both the Cradle Mountain Huts and the Bay of Fires walk. Both are best experienced during the southern summer (Nov-Feb) and walkers need only be of moderate fitness. Bring boots and day clothes, the rest is supplied including meals, GORE-TEX® coats, bedding and guides. 3-night BoF walk starts at AUD$1900 while the 5-night CMHs start at AUD$2500. www.anthology.travel +61 3 6392 2211
Henry Jones Art Hotel is located in central Hobart and is one of the most talked-about establishments in the country. Designed to form a continuously evolving exhibition, the 250 pieces are hung and displayed around the carefully restored buildings. No two rooms are alike. The signature H Jones Suite is AUD$850 per night while standard rooms are from AUD$290. www.thehenryjones.com +61 3 6225 7016
Getting there: You can fly from mainland capitals to Hobart, Launceston and Devonport. Tasmania is a little over an hour’s flight from Melbourne, the nearest mainland capital city. Virgin Blue, Jetstar, Qantas, Rex and Tiger all operate daily services to Tasmania.
Tasmania, with excellent roads and light traffic, is a perfect choice for self-drive. All major car rental companies are represented as well as motorcycle and campervan options
When to go: Tasmania’s mild climate makes the island state a perfect year-round destination. While winters can be quite chilly, spring and autumn are always popular. The west coast is one of the rainiest parts of Australia, while ironically, Hobart is one of the driest cities.
Whether it’s sailing, fishing, cruising or just relaxing, New Zealand’s Bay of Islands takes some beating. Roderick Eime explores from the deck of Oceanic Discoverer.
The renaissance in small ship cruising has created renewed interest previously overlooked destinations in our region. Cruise itineraries were fast falling into the “same old” category with port visits to Fiji, Noumea and Vanuatu reappearing with monotonous regularity. Smaller, more versatile ships have allowed cruise lovers to explore and experience remote and shallow waterways previously the domain of private pleasure craft. New Zealand’s glorious Bay of Islands is one boaties’ paradise now open to this new wave of pocket cruise ships.
Cairns-based Coral Princess Cruises, who have operated small ship cruises for nearly twenty five years, expanded their sphere of influence substantially with the 2005 introduction of Oceanic Discoverer. Originally launched to bolster their small fleet in the busy Kimberley region, she has since ventured as far afield as Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Tasmania. As part of her South Pacific ramblings, she will spend December through February amid the picturesque aquatic landscape of the Bay of Islands and the wider Northland region.
Of all her journeys and destinations, it is this one that perhaps holds the most appeal for fellow boat owners and enthusiasts. Although labelled, “Bay of Islands” the title only reveals one end of this much more comprehensive exploration of the waterways between Paihia and Auckland in the region known to locals as Northland. This whole stretch of coast is steeped in nautical history, is one of the most popular marine playgrounds in New Zealand, perhaps Australasia and is populated with the most diverse assortment of pleasure boats imaginable.
During the five nights spent aboard Oceanic Discoverer, we noted luxurious superyachts and cruisers in the multi-million dollar stratosphere right down to modest runabouts, sailing dinghies and yachts. Of particular note was Reg Grundy’s magnificent $90 million, 70 metre Boadicea; NZ’s fastest commercial sailing catamaran, On The Edge; the 18 metre, 45 knot Excitor fast tourist launch and the sublime tall ship, the 44 metre Soren Larsen.
It’s easy to understand why this is such a haven for boat lovers – especially once you’re here. Kilometre after kilometre of intricate coastline, little nooks, coves and crannies, thickly wooded islands and headlands all interwoven to create a convivial natural latticework perfect for smaller vessels. At 63m, Oceanic Discoverer is a behemoth amongst all but the most lavish superyachts and we cruise somewhat pompously into the little ports and islands and anchor in the bays surrounded by adoring sports cruisers and sailboats.
But it’s not all sea chanteys and ‘yo ho ho’, we make numerous landfalls at some of the delightful islands and parks throughout the region and there’s plenty of time for energetic strolls and even some shopping at the little towns like Russell, Paihia and tiny Port Fitzroy way out on Great Barrier Island.
We set off from the local capital of water sports and recreation, Paihia and fittingly the launch collects us from the jetty at nearby Waitangi, site of the signing of the treaty of the same name and the birthplace of modern New Zealand.
Across the harbour, you’d be forgiven for thinking little Russell town was an island, but it’s actually attached to the mainland by a sliver of land that culminates in Tapeka Point, which in turn forms an imposing promontory in the centre of the Bay of Islands. It’s hard to imagine this picture-postcard village with dainty shops and ornate architecture as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific” as it was described in the very early 19th Century. Then, instead of the cappuccino set and floral hatted tourists, it was host to deserters, ex-cons, drunken whalers, marauding Maori and bawdy ship girls all in a swill of wanton lawlessness and licentiousness – or so the missionaries would have us believe. Russell, as it was officially known from 1840, was actually the capital of New Zealand for nine months until it was decided to move the seat of government to Auckland.
Within view of Tapeka Point, about three kilometres WNW, is Motuarohia (or Roberton) Island. It is here that a plaque remembers Lieut. James Cook RN who set foot on the island in 1769 during his epic first voyage. The entire area was well populated by the Maori who had arrived from the east over six hundred years prior and set up many villages through the region.
Maori and Pakeha (white Europeans) co-existed in the bay with some degree of co-operation. The Maori were enthusiastic traders and were soon resupplying the whaling and cargo ships, but at the same time falling victim to the attendant evils like alcohol and disease.
Motuarohia gained its European name after one notable collapse of interracial relations in November 1841. Maketu Wharetotara, the 17-year-old son of the Nga Puhi chief Ruhe of Waimate went on a vicious killing spree, slaughtering five people, including a woman and three children with an axe. In a celebrated and precarious case, Maketu was the first legal hanging in New Zealand and the island adopted the name of the widow and mother he killed, Mrs Roberton.
The most northerly extent of our modest exploration was to Whangaroa, a journey of some 70 kilometres from our starting point of Paihia. Another idyllic harbour and anchorage guarded by Taupo Bay to the north and Tauranga Bay to the south, it was deemed strategic enough to place a naval gun in side a concrete bunker overlooking the bay during the Second World War. The gun is long since gone, instead the surrounds are now home to Kingfish Lodge, a very smart fishing lodge where you can even purchase your own luxury, waterfront villa for a cool NZ$1 million.
To continue with the blood-thirsty tales, Whangaroa is also the scene of the so-called “Boyd Massacre”. In this regrettable chapter of European history, the son of a Whangaroa chief, Te Ara, was aboard the ship Boyd as a working seaman. But, as legend goes, the young chief, being of noble blood, ignored his orders and was flogged for insubordination. When the Boyd returned to Whangaroa, Te Ara documented his mistreatment in vivid detail and pointed out Captain John Thompson for punishment. In a rush of blood lust, Te Ara’s tribe massacred most of the crew and passengers in retribution. A party of British seamen later returned to exact their own revenge and so the spiral went, with a great many lives lost on both sides.
Our journey ended with an exploration of the Hauraki Gulf, the scene of the ignominious defeat of Team New Zealand in the 2003 Americas Cup. Our southerly thrust was interrupted by a detour to Great Barrier Island and the miniscule Port Fitzroy. Like so many of the islands along the coast, Great Barrier Island was a rich source of valuable kauri timber. The hardy wood is ideal for boatbuilding and, predictably, the slow-growing native kauri was all but eliminated throughout New Zealand. Small stands are reappearing on the protected islands and one such stand exists on Great Barrier.
En route to our final destination of Auckland, a stop is made on both Tiritiri Matangi and Kawau Islands, both as unusual as they are different. Tiritiri is the site of an intensive volunteer wildlife conservation programme. Rid of its feral vermin, the island was painstakingly restocked with numerous rare and endangered bird species including the vibrant saddleback, the delicate North Island Robin, the ungainly Takahe and boisterous Kokako. Poised with my camera hoping to capture a shot of one of these allusive creatures, I’m suddenly confronted with a determined Kokako on the hunt. I think he’s looking at me and I snap him, but he’s spied a little green morsel on a twig and a bug is deftly plucked of a branch barely a metre away – and he’s off!
At the top of the island’s only hill is the famous lighthouse where a family of flightless Takahe stroll unmolested in the garden of the keeper’s cottage. A visitor centre is also housed nearby.
Kawau Island, just fifteen minutes by ferry from Auckland, is a delightful location with the most magnificent home built in 1845 for the manager of the copper mine established nearby. It later became the abode of Sir George Grey; soldier, colonial administrator, Governor-General, political prophet and perhaps New Zealand’s most significant 19th Century figure. He bought the island in 1862, renovated the house and created lush gardens stocked with exotic plants and animals including wallabies and kookaburras, many of which survive to this day! A perfect layover and picnic spot popular with locals and visitors alike.
The stops we made aboard Oceanic Discoverer could just as easily be made with your own or a chartered vessel and we saw many folks doing just that. Couples, families, parties and even one or two soloists were cruising or paddling aboard an array of vessels and taking full advantage of secluded bays and the easy legs in between.
Perhaps this magnificent gulf will come alive again to the towering masts and billowing spinnakers of the America’s Cup if Team New Zealand’s revenge is complete. Either way, boats and boat lovers of all sizes will continue to frolic in these perfect waters.
The Oceanic Discoverer’s five night itinerary between Auckland and Paihia, the Bay of Islands explores the north coast of New Zealand and operates between 21 December 2007 and 8 March 2008. Priced from A$2990 per person twin share, the fare includes all meals and excursions. For further information, see: www.coralprincess.com.au
One of the world’s most famous railway journeys was launched by a female daredevil in spectacular fashion, writes Roderick Eime.
Susan turned to her husband John and said plainly, “I wish to ride the rest of the journey on the cowcatcher.
A brazen and forthright proposal for any woman let alone the wife of the prime minister. But Lady (Susan) Agnes Macdonald was no ordinary woman and this was no mundane occasion. Her husband, Sir John Alexander Macdonald GCB, KCMG, PC, PC (Can), QC, was the first prime minister of Canada and the couple were undertaking a momentous journey across the country aboard the brand new and incredibly expensive Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR).
At first her request was dismissed out of hand by railway officials and Sir John also thought the stunt ‘ridiculous’.
“When I announced my desire to travel on the cowcatcher Mr. E. [the superintendent] seemed to think that a very bad job indeed. To a sensible, level-headed man as he is, such an innovation on all general rules of travelling decorum was no doubt very startling.”
But Lady Agnes prevailed and by force of will installed herself on the cowcatcher seated only on a discarded candle box. The sensible Mr E was obliged to travel with her on the front of the engine and the two completed the 1000 kilometres from Banff to Vancouver that glorious summer of 1886. “This is lovely,” announced Lady Agnes with great satisfaction.
The stunt was a public relations masterstroke and the CPR was catapulted onto the front pages of newspapers all across Canada, doing her husband’s re-election prospects no harm at all. So much so that the most prominent ladies of the new Confederation insisted on emulating their idol and often rode in mock fashion perched on the front of the engine.
The railway line that took ten gruelling years to build and united a nation is still in place today and passengers enjoy the identical scenery that so enthralled Lady Agnes all those years ago. While it may no longer be possible to sit on the front, today’s famous Rocky Mountaineer has an open air viewing platform on the rear of the train that affords similarly staggering views of the unfolding mountainscape that passes through such ominously named locations as Hell’s Gate, Kicking Horse and Yellowhead Passes and the Rocky Mountain Trench.
With such scenic treasures, the railway quickly became a tourist attraction thanks to Lady Agnes’s colourful descriptions published in the popular Murray’s Magazine.
“Sunlight flashes on glaciers, into gorges, and athwart huge, towering masses of rock crowned with magnificent tree crests that rise all round us of every size and shape. Breathless – almost awe-stricken – but with a wild triumph in my heart, I look from farthest mountain peak, lifted high before me, to the shining pebbles at my feet.”
One hundred years after that momentous last spike was hammered, a new incarnation in rail transportation arrived in the form of the Rocky Mountaineer, a railway service designed specifically with the tourist in mind and following the historic line as ridden by Lady Agnes on her candlebox.
Named “First Passage to the West”, the 1112km, 4-day journey to Calgary is Rocky Mountaineer’s signature route and most faithful to the history of the region. Three other routes complete the steel rail catalogue, taking in newer lines laid in subsequent years and visiting Whistler, Quesnel and Jasper.
The superbly comfortable ‘GoldLeaf’ carriages are almost cabriolets with massive domed panoramic windows through which to digest the sprawling landscape. Speaking of digestion, this top-tier category (of three) serves sumptuous à la carte meals in a private dining room beneath the passenger compartment with complimentary beverages throughout. We get regular, but unobtrusive commentary with our champagne top-ups.
Without sleeper cars, the entire train overnights en route, ensuring not a minute of the spectacular scenery is missed and bringing valuable tourists dollars to the little towns along the way. At the authentic frontier town of Kamloops, we disembark for a night at the Thompson Hotel, named I assume like the adjacent river for David Thompson, the prolific surveyor and explorer who mapped almost the entire Pacific Northwest in the early 19th century.
Ambling lazily down the main street, rock music comes from one of the lively café pubs, but we grab the last table at ‘Felix on fourth’ and tuck into some tapas, tuna and steak. Local red wine from the nearby Okanagan Valley is surprisingly good.
The cattle, milling and mining town of 90,000 has grown beyond austere beginnings in this semi-arid region of BC to a tourist hub of its own and one could easily spend an entire holiday here ticking everything off their list of 101 things-to-do. It reminds me of Bathurst or Orange back home and comes complete with its own bushranger folk legends.
On May 8, 1906, the infamous ‘Gentleman Bandit’ William ‘Billy’ Miner held up his second CPR train just south of Kamloops and was captured three days later by Mounties as he and his two accomplices calmly ate lunch. The trio were brought back to Kamloops for trial amid a media circus. The CPR’s railroad monopoly had made the company unpopular in some circles and Miner was elevated to folk hero status for taking them on and a mural on the main street depicts his daring, but polite exploits.
These days, thanks to the Rocky Mountaineer, the railway enjoys a different kind of notoriety, garnering awards and accolades in abundance. While some may tout the experience as the ‘world’s best train journey’, it is certainly deserves a place on anyone’s very short list. Many, it is clear, share Lady Agnes’s giddy excitement.
“There is glory of brightness and beauty everywhere, and I laugh aloud on the cowcatcher, just because it is all so delightful!”
Rocky Mountaineer offer five distinct rail journeys throughout the Pacific Northwest in three categories; Red, Silver and Gold. Running from April-October, fares for the 2-day Classic First Passage to the West start at CAD1249 (Red Leaf, double occupancy). Over 45 packages are offered including road, cruise (with Holland America) and a Coast-to-Coast rail extension with VIA Rail. Hotel partner, Fairmont, offer packages for Gold Leaf guests.
Guns, God and Gin:
Ingredients for the first capital of Fiji
Walking down the main street of Levuka wasn’t always such a blissfully quiet and peaceful affair. The first capital of Fiji was born into anarchy and the sort of wild life only created by stir-crazy seamen and hustlers. Roderick Eime walked the verandas and lush pathways of the little town, soaking up the history.
The tranquil and verdant lanes of Levuka hide a turbulent past. The flame trees lining the canal and the immaculate cream woodwork of the heritage buildings suggest, but do not fully reveal, the turbulent birth of Fiji as a nation.
Almost 200 years ago, Levuka became the first permanent European settlement, a status that made it the de facto choice as capital when Tui Cakobau and the chiefs ceded the islands to Queen Victoria on10 October 1874. The monument to this occasion is located at Nasova village, the site of the signing, about a kilometre south of the wharf.
Early view of Levuka (fijiphotos.net)
For most of the 19th Century, the streets of Levuka were awash with all the human flotsam of the Pacific; deserters, shipwrecked whalers, escaped convicts, prostitutes and plain rogues. Missionaries, planters, merchants and fishermen tried to instil a sense of civilization, but clearly their task was a Herculean one. Some scallywag remarked that an approaching ship could find passage through the reef by following the floating gin bottles. However, despite the lawlessness, Fiji’s first bank, post office, school, private members club, hospital, town hall, and municipal government sprang from this unlikely outpost.
“WANTED, at the Star Chamber, Levuka
- informers, spys and scandalmongers.
Apply early, as the situations are
likely to be eagerly filled up.”
– Fiji Times, Oct 8, 1870
Fiji’s pre-eminent newspaper, the Fiji Times, was first printed in Levuka in 1869. Unsurprisingly, the first hotel was also built there and, perhaps more surprisingly, the Royal Hotel still serves a chilled Fiji Bitter today amid quaint decor and wicker chairs. The oldest Masonic lodge in the South Pacific still stands in Levuka, but only just. It was gutted by fire in 2000 by nearby Lovoni villagers determined to exorcise its supposed evil spirits.
Levuka occupies almost all of the rare, flat section of land in the shadow of towering, jungle-shrouded cliffs, cradling the settlement and its ornate buildings in a protective nook. This geographic shelter cut short Levuka’s life as a capital, but preserved its architectural integrity. By 1882, Governor Sir Arthur Gordon and the workings of government were fully transplanted to Suva.
A walking tour, either self-guided or escorted, is the first thing you should organize when you arrive in Levuka, but a local interpretation will give you an insight into the life of real Fijians, both indigenous and ‘imported’. Be sure to say ‘bula’ wherever you go, it’s the polite thing to do.
Allan Roxburgh grew up in Levuka
“Mum used to stand out there on the balcony and call us in for dinner,” says Allan Roxburgh, recalling happy times as a child growing up in the little town, “we’d play all day on the field here if she let us.”
Roxburgh, nearing 70, has spent his entire life in Fiji. Born to European parents, his Scottish father was a copra trader, and young Allan would jig school to go with him on trading journeys throughout the islands in the ‘40s and ‘50s while Levuka remained the copra capital of Fiji.
“Levuka’s only a little town, but there was always something going on.”
Testament to the town’s colourful past is laid out on the walls of the Ovalau Club, the South Pacific’s oldest private members’ club and still serving today. Flags, photographs, autographs and caricatures from bygone days adorn the bar. Visiting warships, aircraft and dignitaries have all left their kindest regards in some personalised form.
One of the most noteworthy characters to have paid his respects was Felix Graf von Luckner. This famous German sea captain from the Great War was remarkable for several reasons. Not only did he conduct a fearsome commerce raiding campaign throughout the South Pacific and Atlantic, he did so with just one accidental casualty. He arrived in Levuka after his legendary open boat sailing from Tahiti where his ship, the three-masted windjammer ‘Seeadler’ (Sea Eagle), was wrecked on a reef. He was captured on nearby Wakaya Island, about 10kms east of Levuka, after the local police bluffed him with a coconut trunk rigged to look like a deck gun.
Did you know?
Fiji’s first Indian immigrants arrived at Levuka aboard the Leonidas in 1879.
Fiji is seeking UNESCO World Heritage status for Levuka to help preserve the remaining historic buildings
Levuka may have reverted to a sleepy backwater, but any visitor can still find plenty to do.
Walking Tour – allow two hours
Visit the museum in the original Morris Hedstroem building.
The result of a combined total of more than 200 years of experience in the professions of Travel Writing and Travel Photography, the new Global Travel Writers E-book Travel Writing and Travel Photography – from Dreams to Hard Reality contains material that you just will not find anywhere else.
The twelve contributors to this E-book take you through the processes of digging out a story idea; using the services of national tourism offices to arrange “famil” trips and to help research a story; pitching to editors; and much much more. The chapter on “New Media” contains exclusive material and advice on the latest techniques that you can use to enhance your writing’s appeal to editors and, through them, to readers. And because photography is so important, in this E-book we have devoted two comprehensive chapters to travel photography for a digital age.
There is no other place in the world that has showcases human history like London. Its heritage is not only confined in museums, but in architecture, art, fashion and culture. Yes, through thick and thin this marvelous city has seen it all. If streets and buildings could talk, there would be so much that they would say. With its colourful history on display – from its classic palaces to ultra chic new hangouts, London is indeed the city where only the coolest survive.
For me travelling to international travel hubs like London is not only an opportunity to become immersed in another culture but to throw yourself into a lot of great shopping.
Seeing London’s Carnaby Street is like visiting the birthplace of cool with designer fashion labels and exclusive boutiques lining the streets. But if the constantly changing exchange rate gets you down, then try Oxford Circus for a taste of the great British high-street that will leave you struggling to close your suitcase. For high class luxury without having to walk too far, then the Harrods department store is a place that you must see.
Now I understand that shopping can cause lot of stress on your bank account but have no fear because London has many more activities and sites that you can visit.
For an easy overview of the city, I highly recommend going on one of the many guided boat tours that cruise along the Thames River. As you make your way down, you will surely be able to spot the iconic Tower Bridge that breaks the horizon. However, if you are looking for a more personal exploration of the city, then get your map, walking shoes, London Pass and Oyster Card ready.
One of the many tourist attractions within walking distance of each other is Buckingham Palace and Westminster. You’ll find that it’s easier to spot Big Ben from outside Buckingham Palace than it is to find Wally with a magnifying glass.
Being one of the oldest urban cities in the UK, London’s rich culture and history can be found at every turn with double decker buses, the London Tube complex, their small taxis, architectural marvels such as St Paul’s Cathedral as well as historical centres like the British Museum and the Tate Modern art gallery. London is indeed the place where the delicate mix of the classical and modern is fit for a king or queen.