J.Clay AU/NZ trip Fall 2004 travel blog

Port Vila harbour, Vanuatu

Donnell of Unity Park Motel, Santo, Vanuatu

Orchids left by the maid each day.

Stairs to SS President Coolidge, 100m

Post dive drinks by our group of Auzzies.

Dive master Chris and Israel of Aquamarine, Santo, Vanuatu

Blue Hole of 'South Pacific', wearing new Tusker Beer shirt.

Cattle grazing on coconuts, Santo, Venuatu

WWII quanset hut partially buried for troops, ammo, and supplies.

Volcanic rock, Santo Island, wearing my new Tusker Beer shirt.

Helen and Auzzies, shore dive on Million Dollar Hole, Santo

Dive van on Million Dollar Hole beach, Santo

Motley creu on dive boat Taka back from Great Barrier Reef.

Lots has happened since last entry. Cairns to Brisbane, several days in Brisbane and on to Vanuatu for 5 wonderful days. This was New Herbides until indenpendence in 1980. It lies between PaPau New Guinea and Fiji, about 1500 miles NE of Australia. The interisland airline lost my booking so I got to spend the first night in Port Vila, where all international flights have to land. Next day on to Santo, the big island to the north. The shipwreck "SS President Coolidge" is a shore dive just outside town where I stayed, so I got to dive it 5 times. Got to go do "Blue Hole" where the swim scene from musical 'South Pacific' was filmed. James Michener was stationed here in WWII and wrote his 'Tales of the South Pacific' which became the book/movie. I think Curtis Clay was here during WWII, but I have no facts to prove it. This was the largest supply port in the South Pacific outside Hawaii, and every naval supply ship had to come here to load or unload stuff, so the odds are he was here! Wonder what he thought of this place. Remember, 'paradise' means many things to many different people. Business opens at 8 or 9:00 here, close from 11:30 to 1:30, and then close at about 5:00pm for the day. Does that sound like paradise? You've never seen 'laid back'!! Some folks I'll never forget, Charlie the bartender at Hotel Santo, and the couple that manage the Unity Park Motel (where I stayed) and their 4 year old son, and Erick the tour guy. Never a crowd here, don't know if it gets that way in Dec to Mar, their summer. It's pretty close to the equator.

I've been flying Virgin Blue/Pacific Blue over here. Virgin Blue is domestic and Pacific Blue is international. They are the 'Southwest Airlines' of Australia. Anything you eat or drink on a flight, you pay for! Very good prices. When I landed in Brisbane on the way from Vanuatu to Sydney, a storm closed the airport and I had to overnight in Brisbane again. So, that's just a thumbnail of the last 7 or 10 days. Three more days here in Sydney and back to Christchurch, NZ. Hope you're not getting bored.


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