An amazing sight in Tasmania: Flying sheep near Flinders Island

This morning I woke before dawn and trundled up to the seldom-used Galaxy Lounge on Deck 6 where the fixings for a continental breakfast are set up around 6:30 for early risers. It was just past six but Charles, one of the Filipino waiters, was up there making coffee and putting out muffins and such. He gladly made me a pot of Earl Grey tea to take back to my room. I was sitting on the love …

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Right in the middle of the city: Cataract Gorge

A couple of glasses of Chromy pinot noir and a tummy full of pate and smoked quail, camembert and pesto-smeared crusty bread, and I’m thinking a nap back aboard the Orion would be delightful. But Mick, our expedition team leader, has something a bit more active in mind: a hike around Cataract Gorge. Now before I talk about Cataract Gorge, I want to tell you about Frank. Frank is our shuttle driver. Big, bald, stocky bloke who …

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Winery lunch: Platters of meats, cheeses, pates and such

See the beefy bloke holding up the platter of savory tucker (after a couple of days in Tasmania you can’t help but start speaking like an Aussie)? That’s Gary Willis. Gary is a Tassie chocolatier (in fact, I’m munching on some of his salted caramel chocolate as I write this, thank you very much, Gary) who is one of the guest lecturers on the Orion.   Yesterday we shuttled off to the Josef Chromy winery in the …

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Day one on the Orion … and the ship remains at the dock

You, no doubt, have been on lots of cruises but this is only my second (and my first was nothing more than three days traveling from Los Angeles to Encinada, Mexico and back) so perhaps this is perfectly normal, but after we embarked yesterday and after we had our mandatory lifeboat drill and learned how to properly put on our life preservers (true confession: even after being shown several times how to slip it through my arms, …

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Boarding the Orion in Tasmania: Miss Lobke to the rescue

Small, cold rain is drenching me and about twenty other passengers ready to embark on an Orion expedition cruise out of Launceston, Tasmania. We are standing on the wharf at Beauty Point, kittycorner to the Platypus House or, if you don’t know where that is, directly across from Seahorse World (“Where you can discover the secret life of the Seahorse!” according to the sign on the side). The problem is there’s a short, stout young Tassie maritime …

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