We sailed for India aboard the TV Galileo Galilei at midnight on the 24th August 1964. The actual embarkation and sailing gave me a unique experience. The feeling was a curious mixture of joy, sadness and fear. Once outside the Heads this gave way to a certain elation, and I was childishly bounding up and down the passageways thinking I had already overcome the unbalancing effects of the ship’s movement. After somewhat apprehensively enjoying my new won freedom for a few hours I went down to bed, did not bother to clean my teeth even, and slept in my underwear. In trying to fall asleep, which took some time, I felt slightly ill for the first time.
Between Sydney and Melbourne - I slept well, but awoke this morning to a badly pitching ship. Being closed in that cramped, swaying, pitching cabin made me feel violently ill and I vomited several times this morning. I tried to eat some breakfast, took a pill, and stayed up on deck, but nothing helped. Most other passengers felt the same I think, as very few were up and about. I felt bloody awful, I hated the sea and the ship, loathed everything about the trip, and was already missing the family as well. If I could have, I would have got off the Galileo and gone home. So now I know what it is like to be both homesick and seasick. After vomiting about 1.30 I went to lunch to get something solid inside me, and I managed to keep that down. The seas had abated and it seemed that the worst was over. I went to see a movie in the afternoon (Man in the Middle with Robert Mitchum) and this I found to be a most peculiar sensation. It was a rather tame film, but I did not mind, as I was quite glad just to be feeling better. I had a good dinner, stayed alright during the dance in the main lounge, and at midnight went down to the cabin. I had showered, shaved and dressed for dinner, which had also made me feel better, and as the cabin was no longer moving I felt I would be able to get a good night’s rest.
Berthed in Port Melbourne - I awoke to a fair day with the ship already berthed. I felt fine and had an excellent breakfast before heading into town with Ade, Tony, Jim and Dave. Probably the most vivid impression we all got of Melbourne was the weird little two carriage train which took us into the city (Flinders Street Station) from Station Pier in Port Melbourne. It was more of a tram than anything else, and was dirty from one end to the other; typical of Melbourne we thought, and we were right, it is a filthy city, with even the new buildings covered in grime. We wandered through Treasury Gardens, took a few photos, saw Cook’s cottage, and looked through their two excellent cathedrals (St. Paul’s CE and St. Patrick’s RC). The priest we met in St. Pat’s allowed us to go up onto the roof and into the main spire, which gave us an opportunity for some unusual photos and some panoramic views.
We took a taxi back to the ship for lunch and remained on board until tea time. We returned to the city after dinner, went for a tram ride, became terribly bored and went back to the ship. We were sick of Melbourne already. I suppose we were rather unfair, since we only saw a small section of the place, and none of the supposedly better areas. We were cynical and downright arrogant. We acted foolishly. However, considering the traditional rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, what else could we do? We were all pretty bored. There was little or nothing doing on ship and we were not looking forward to the following day, also to be spent in Melbourne.
I was certainly making a rather hasty judgement on Melbourne and expressing a very parochial attitude. The irony is that I would later live there for three years and then work there for extended periods on a number of occasions after that. I love Melbourne. It is a totally people friendly city, easy to get around, great parks, galleries and eateries, and the only city in Australia with a proper theatre district. It gets better every time I go there. Even the weather isn't as bad as people say and the autumn is marvellous. I got to ride on that same little train almost every day for a couple of years, working in South Melbourne. It never got much cleaner, but I noticed that every time there was a big liner in port they put on a smart new train for the day to create a better impression. Must have happened after we left.
Still fine, and quite warm out on deck. I spent most of the morning out near the pool, doing nothing, and then after lunch went into the city with Ade, Jim and Dave. We roamed around some more, then got back to the ship by four, as we were due to sail at 5 pm. The ship was full of visitors and we were feeling rather proud and boastful, being passengers, and seasoned travellers at that. We laughed to ourselves at the emotional scenes and thoroughly enjoyed watching the visitors and trying to pick out the new passengers. We had fun catching and throwing streamers to those onshore, laughing and calling out to them, and generally acting like schoolboys. We sailed on time, and after dinner there was a dance, which was quite enjoyable. It was a most peculiar sensation to be dancing on a rolling and pitching floor. Things slowed down for me about twelve, so I went to bed.
Enroute to Adelaide - This morning on deck I was treated to a most beautiful sight; we passed between Kangaroo Island and the mainland, and the sun shining on the rolling green hills and the beaches was truly something I had never seen before. It made me realize that we were now really on the way to beautiful exciting places. Deva (Peter) Singh, the Indian chap in our cabin, who has a farm near Jullundur in the Punjab, and is a Sikh, has given us the first experience of Indian hospitality by inviting us to stay as long as we like, all expenses paid, on his property, which is apparently rather large for his district. He has told us he has the biggest house in the village. He is a naturalized Australian by reason of his father being such, is very proud of it, and speaks English with a very broad Australian accent, which he picked up while working in the banana and cane growing areas. One of his fingers is missing (bitten off in a brawl, he says), and he looks a bit like a dark Barry Jones (so Ade says). He said he would like us to go straight with him to his home when we reach Bombay, but as we have to go to Poona first this would be impossible. I like him a lot, and although I would not impose in regard to ‘all expenses paid,’ I think we will definitely take advantage of his hospitality for a few days.
We berthed at Outer Harbour, Adelaide, at 4-30 pm, and took the train into the city. I like Adelaide. It is spacious, somewhat quaint and provincial, and a very relaxed looking city. We could only stay an hour or so, so all I got was a very general impression, but I like it very much. We returned to the ship, seven of us, for dinner and a most boring evening of gin rummy. There was quite a farewell as we left Adelaide for Fremantle, but third time round was souring a bit, so I did not stay out on deck to watch the ship pull out. The most exciting thing about Adelaide was arriving. The dock was in a most picturesque setting, and the tugs pulling us in would have made an excellent photo if I had had a colour film.
Crossing the Bight, enroute to Fremantle - Out here at sea time means nothing. Today is Saturday, but it could be any day of the week for all it matters. With no land in sight, the ship is just an island in a seemingly endless sea. There seems no reason to record time, as there is nothing to relate it to. And so I lose track of the hour, the day, and later, perhaps the month. Whether it is night or day does not even seem to matter. The sea at times is hateful, sometimes boring, and sometimes wonderful. It has been difficult as yet to see the overpowering force of the wind and the sea, as they have stayed reasonably calm. Neverthless, perhaps I will yet experience the awe-inspiring might of the elements.
This morning I awoke late. Strange to wake up at 11 am to a dark room. Wrote my second letter home this afternoon, and played my first few games of deck tennis.
I feel I am now completely adjusted to the movement of the ship. It can get as rough as it likes now, I can take it. This evening, about 5 pm, we sighted land for the first time in two days. It was a beautiful sight. I am not sure whether it was a group of islands or the W.A. mainland, but at that time, with the sun just beginning to redden the sky, and the wake of the ship glowing an intangible turquoise, this misty land on the horizon could have been anywhere on Earth. It was the first glimpse of the kind of thing I have dreamed about.
When I came out on deck we were approaching Fremantle. It was exciting to think that this was to be my last day in Australia. The overseas terminal where we docked was very large, and very new, much better than Sydney. A whole group of us went in on the bus to Perth, and I was somewhat apprehensive of this, right from the first. As the day wore on, the usual indecisiveness of large groups made it most frustrating. We must have wasted hours. I could not change my pounds in the city, as there was nothing less than 10,000 lira notes at any of the banks. We had lunch in King’s Park, which affords superb views over Perth. It is a beautiful city, even more spacious and relaxed than Adelaide seemed to be; clean, warm and friendly. My only objection is an occasional artificial quality in its buildings. Whereas Adelaide, for example, has created a genuine atmosphere with its many quaint old buildings, Perth seems to have created a somewhat pseudo atmosphere, with architectural styles borrowed from elsewhere, (example: London Court [Elizabethan], Tech. College [Norman], University [Spanish], Town Hall [German Gothic?]). This must have been a phase it passed through, as its newer buildings are excellent. Nevertheless, I like Perth very much and I would enjoy returning one day to see more of it. At about 4 pm we took over the lounge of the King George’s Hotel and had a swinging, drunken party. Once I overcame my natural quiet reserve, I had a wonderful time, even though I went through about three days living expenses. I will feel the pinch during the rest of the trip to Singapore. It was a Good-bye Australia party, and we sang Waltzing Matilda all the way back to Fremantle in the bus and into the terminal. Back on board we quietened down and I went to bed with a headache. I believe the ship pulled out two hours late, because of wharfie trouble.