SS Australis - 1974

by John Lysaght

(voyage 49 North bound)

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The Australis.....What memories....

I booked to go on The Australis to England in May 1974 for Voyage 49 North which was leaving in May 1975....asked for a multiple berth cabin....cost of the ticket?...$562-40

Got allocated cabin1236....Way down the back of the ship.....right across from the engine room and showers...I reckon it took a few days to find our way from there up to the main decks...

In our cabin were some fantastic guys......Graham Pickering from Mt Waverley in Melbourne.....two guys from Bendigo who proudly wore "Blowfly Lodge" T-Shirts for most of the cruise....two German brothers....John who
had been living in Melbourne for a few years and his brother Klaus who had flown out from Germany and they were on their way back to Germany.In Sydney we took on another passenger...Johnnie Johnson.....who happened to be a WW2 fighter pilot against the Germans...that made for interesting conversation!./..Johnnie died recently in Sydney....he was a real character.....drank himself to a stupour every night...then he would
somehow mange to find me...and I had to take him back to our cabin cos he had no idea how to get there...even after 4 weeks on board

On this voyage we lived back to front.....we stayed up all night....and went to bed after breakfast....woke up in time to try and win the bingo prize which virtually paid for the trip near the end of the voyage..

Voyage 49 North stooped at Sydney...Auckland...Suva....Acapulco...both ends of the Panama Canal and Fort Lauderdale..

Lots of highlights.....one being walking around the town of Cristobal...heard a bit of a commotion....a guy came running out of a building......another chasing him....the guy chasing pulls out a gun and shoots the other guy in the back.....we were back on board the ship in minutes I think.....way too scary there....and the beggars wouldn't
leave you alone

Sydney was great...although in 1975 we were warned not to go to The Rocks as it a particularly seedy place....how times have changed!

Auckland was cool...I left my camera in a oub near the docks...on realising I had left it there I bolted back and there it was....either the Kiwis were very honest...or very slow!!

Suva.....HOT...HUMID.....the ship was wet all the time... Acapulco.....Sensational...the sip anchored in the bay...we caught barges to shore....got offerd so much Acapulco Gold.....we went to the hotel where
Howard Hughes was living...it was built in the shape of an Aztec pyramid..talk about how the other 1/2 lived......

Panama Canal....apart from the above story...a group of us went into Panama City....found ourselves a club with a few American servicemen...we had a ball...German John got up and danced with the dancing girls which had
the Yanks dumfounded...they loved it

2nd last stop Fort Lauderdale....over 100 degrees in the shade.....we finally get off the boat....get ourselves into a taxi.....This is the land of the HAMBURGER.....take us to a hamburger joint driver.....off we go into downtown Ft Lauderdale....stop at this funny looking place with a BIG Yelloow M out the front......a place called McDonalds...never heard of them in Melbourne..this is 1975......we go inside and try a McDonalds hamburger...hmmm.....different...wonder if they'll catch on......a sign out the front says Ronald McDonald is visiting the store today...wow...the owner must be turning up....we wait around.....Fries....hamburgers...thick
shakes.....finally.....after waiting for an hour...a bloody clown turns up!!!little did we know...

Finally back on board...next stop Southampton...so far the weather for the entire trip has been fantastic.....a couple of big swells in the Pacific.....one day out of America and the weather turns foul in The Atlantic...oh well...after all we are going to England.....

The last day....we get up...go outside...passing the Isle of Wight...the sun is out....magnificent....we sit up on deck watching the luggage being unloaded....a picture of me with this Sedish girl so I can send back to
Melbourne and tell them her and I hit it off...

We board the London Walkabout bus for London.....one last look at our home for the last 5 weeks....hoping I'd see it again....one day maybe........still got the 20 pound discount voucher...wonder if I can still use it ????

I still regard this trip as a real highlight and still see two guys occasionally I met on board....we're all married/divorced now but when we get together...we remember The Australis very fondly...

PS..and the food was pretty good too

John Lysaght


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