Feb 19, 2014 to Feb 20, 2014
19.02.2014 - 20.02.2014 21 °C
Esperance is located on the Great Australian Bight towards the western end of the south coast of Australia. Near the town itself are numerous beaches, offering surfing, scuba diving, and swimming. Esperance is most noted for its coastline and has been voted one of Australia's best beaches, Australia's whitest sand and Western Australia's most popular beach.
We had to tender in as the harbour and dock were far too small for a ship the size of the Solstice.
2 of the 6 Tenders
Solstice from the Esperance Pier
Esperance is a very small (14,500 people) and quaint town which seems to have come to the world’s attention in 1979 when pieces of the space station, Skylab, crashed onto Esperance after the craft broke up over the Indian Ocean. (Skylab had been launched in May 1973.)
Skylab's demise was an international media event, with merchandising, wagering on time and place of re-entry and nightly news reports. The San Francisco Examiner offered a $10,000 prize for the first piece of Skylab to be delivered to their offices. 17-year-old Stan Thornton scooped a few pieces of Skylab off the roof of his home in Esperance and caught the first flight to San Francisco, where he collected his prize.
The other interesting story concerns the fact that the municipality fined the United States $400 for littering when pieces of Skylab landed in their area. The fine was paid almost 30 years later in April 2009, when radio show host Scott Barley of Highway Radio in Barstow, California, raised the funds from his morning show listeners, travelled all the way to Esperance and paid the town leaders the $400 fine on behalf of NASA and the government of the people of the United States of America.
While we were in Esperance we learned that the best Wi Fi was at the Target store at a local shopping mall. We and a number of our fellow passengers and crew members headed over to what has to be the smallest Target store in the world and sat in the mall hallway downloading our messages from home and updating this blog. While picking up a T-Shirt in the Target store we struck up a conversation with a young sales clerk. She was fascinated that we were from Canada and told us that they loved our accent! At the end of our chat she looked at us very earnestly and discretely asked “how big is a moose?” Amazing what interests each of us about another country.
Wi Fi hot spot in front of the Target store
We have one more sea day before landing in Perth which is the end of the first cruise and the start of the second one which will take us around the rest of Australia up to Indonesia and back to Sydney. Just over 800 of the passengers on this first cruise are doing the same as we are and combining the two back to back cruises into one long cruise. Many of the North Americans on board thought like we did that the offer on the combined cruise was too good to pass up and if we are going to come this far on the plane we might as well stay for the full 35 day cruise. There are a good many passengers on board from Ontario and we are all delighted to be missing the frigid weather back home. In fact there is a group of over 100 people on board who are with a travel group (Bradley Walters) from the Waterloo Region. We often stop by and check out their bulletin board as they usually have the weather report for Southern Ontario. The ship also publishes a daily 4 page Newsletter for a variety of regions such as Canada, US, Britain, France, Germany and Australia. The newsletter gives the weather, major news stories, financial markets and sports scores for each of the specific regions.