Ailsa’s travel photo challenge: Oceans

Readers, before I begin, I want to thank Ailsa for her challenge and her ideas here:

Oceans lap the Australian coastline on three sides.  To the east there’s the Pacific;  to the west, the Indian Ocean;  to the south, the Southern Ocean.  The northern coastline is lapped by seas not vast enough to be called ocean.  They’re the Timor Sea and the Arafura Sea, separating us from the islands of New Guinea and Indonesia.

In 1941 ships crossed the Indian Ocean to take Australian troops to the Middle East and back home again. The photo below shows the Aquitania leaving Sydney Harbour in 1941 before she was painted battle grey.  Before being assigned as a troopship the Aquitania had been a luxury liner in the Atlantic and before that she had served in the First World War.  She was the last surviving four-funnelled ocean liner.  The photo was possibly taken from the Queen Mary, another liner transformed into a troop carrier.  There was a convoy of converted liners in Sydney Harbour in April 1941 taking on board thousands of soldiers.  The Aquitania and the Queen Mary made a number of these journeys across the Indian Ocean and back.  Of course, Sydney is on the east coast of Australia and the ships were heading west, so it was a long trip just to get out of Australian waters, let alone across the Indian Ocean.  My mother told me that my father went on the Queen Mary, and his service record tells me he left Sydney on 1st September 1941 and arrived in the Middle East on 25th September.  About three weeks at sea.  On the ocean.

Aquitania, 1941

13 thoughts on “Ailsa’s travel photo challenge: Oceans

  1. Hi Trish; I came by for a leisurely read, hoping for something soothing, calm, out of the ordinary, from down under where autumn is turning to winter, from a young woman who likes to go abroad, and what do I run into, another challenge. Let me think, but the first thing I’m doing is read around in your archives until I find what I came for, like “hi there, how you doing, what’s going on” and see if the Arafara Sea is as dangerous as they say. Before the GPS, young sailors out for adventure would say, “why bother going on west through the Arafara, it’s a navigation nightmare. You have a paradise on the east coast of Australia — the barrier reef, Cairns.” Is it still true? Yes, Australia, removed from wars created elsewhere, always contributed their cherished youth as a matter of principle.

    Three weeks at sea is relatively short. Remember the tall ships departing Australia, laden with wheat, crowding on full sail, finding the Roaring Fourties and running full speed to get their cargo first to market? Now that’s a challenge, and those are sea stories, but I have no pictures. Do you? How are the blokes and the mates? And now for some reading. See ya, Whitt


    • I’m being tested this morning; I just wrote a longish reply to you and then it just disappeared off my screen. Let’s hope I can withstand this teasing.
      Firstly, thanks for your comment. Its length is rare among my commenters.
      Secondly, about Cairns: I had a holiday there in July last year. The region is still environmentally beautiful but is sustained economically by tourists, Europeans mainly, who are spending their summer in a wintry but very warm Cairns. They’re everywhere; for example, I was struck dumb to find myself as the only Australian in an Aboriginal theme park activity group.
      About sea travel: My father hated the long journey to the Middle East and back and wrote about it in his poetry.
      Hope you get to read this…


      • On length, I figure if you put in time writing to share something, we should ante-up and share our reaction (level the playing field.)
        On lost text, just as a suggestion, try opening a second, or third, window, write there, then copy/paste into the reply window. Many advantages for text saved to disk. I try to keep a dictionary window open too.
        On “Aboriginal Theme Park activity group,” now there’s an excellent post subject.
        On long voyages, I’m sure your Dad had a lot of seriousness on his mind during those voyages; that comes through in your blog. People often look at the sea as empty, whereas in fact, everything about the sea is full of life, of change, of surprise. As silly as it sounds, I now go to sea for the joys and experience of being at sea; getting to a destination is secondary. People may think I’m batty, but I can’t imagine being bored or lonely at sea; one can always live ashore, but to live at sea is a rare privilege.

        Now I miss what you might have written. Take care, Whitt


    • I’m surprised and delighted that anybody is interested. I’ve shown a few photos to friends and family over the years, with little response. So thanks for telling me you like them.


      • What a shame. Funny though it is often your family and friend who take less interest than strangers…i find that with my blog. I’ve never understood it as when a friend or family member is doing something that is important to them i want to know about it.


      • I agree. Blogging was perhaps invented for people like us who have stuff to say and things to show. It’s comforting to know you’ve had the same reactions from friends and family.


  2. Another great photo from your dad’s albums, Trish. They’re a real treasure trove of history, I love it. I am with whitt88 when it comes to sea travel, or any kind of ‘slow travel’ as the age of air travel has dubbed anything other than hurtling across the sky in a metal tube. It gives you the wonderful and all too rare chance to have time on your hands. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Travel Challenge: Ocean « craftcrazygran

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