There are several negatives associated with our refueling challenges and windlass issues, but there are a few positives, too. We hired a car to jerry jug fuel, got re-provisioned once again, filled the propane tank and still had a few kilometers left to ride around town. We're getting a chance to poke around Gero a bit while waiting for parts and we're finding it a pleasant little city. Even without the car, it's an easy town to stroll around and so far, there are enough sights and activities, apart from boat chores, to keep us amused.
There's a memorial on the top of Mount Scott (read that “big hill”) that can be seen from the foreshore and we drove up to investigate. The HMAS Sydney II was sunk during “a mutually destructive engagement” with the German cruiser, Kormoran, off the coast of Western Australia in November 1941. All hands aboard the Sydney were lost and both ships sunk without a trace. Not until 2008, were both ships located. The memorial is a somber, poignant reminder of this tragedy. A granite wall lists the names of all men aboard. A dome comprised of 645 stainless steel seagulls, representing the 645 Australian lives lost, is stunning. A bronze statue entitled “Waiting Woman” stands in front of the monument facing towards the sea, waiting in vain for her menfolk to return.
The city was founded in 1848 when an explorer found lead ore. Iron ore and other metallic sands are still huge exports from the area along with livestock and agricultural products. There are several old buildings in town that have been converted into modern use. The Old Gaol (jail), for instance, built in 1856 is used as a crafts gallery, an historic museum and a venue for a gemstones display. Little shops operate out of the old jail cells.
We particularly liked the Freemason's Hotel. The name of the hotel is significant in that was an original meeting place for the local Masons. The original hotel was built on the lot adjacent in the 1870's … the lot acquired in exchange for a bottle of rum. The present Freemasons Hotel was built in 1895. It's still a hotel, pub and meeting place today.
Geraldton makes much of its proximity to the Abrolhos Islands and the tragedy which occurred there in 1629 when the Dutch East Indies ship “Batavia” was shipwrecked on the reefs on its maiden voyage en route to Jakarta. Beyond a huge shipwreck display at the Western Australian Museum, there are references to the Abrolhos and the Batavia throughout the city. A replica of the Dutch longboat used by Pelsaert et al to sail 1,500 nm from the wreck site to Jakarta is moored near the marina.
Though it rained throughout the weekend, we muddled through the puddles and wet to check out the Platform Market on Sunday morning held on the boarding platform at the old Geraldton Railway Station. We picked up some fresh produce and checked out the local crafts.
The colorful red and white striped Point Moore Lighthouse is the oldest surviving Commonwealth lighthouse in Western Australia and was also the first steel tower to be constructed on the Australia mainland. Having begun operation in 1878 and undergone updating and renovation along the way, it's still functioning today and can be seen for 23 nautical miles offshore.
We stumbled across the Pioneer Memorial Wall on our way to pick up the rental car. It's a lovely park with old pioneer gravestones rescued from weather and vandalism and tastefully restored.
Yes, yes … we are managing to get our chores done as well enjoying the sights of Geraldton. But even sailors need a break from the sea and boat tasks once in awhile despite being impatient to leave. That said, as soon as our new windlass arrives (yup, we had to break down and buy a whole new one), we'll have plenty to keep us occupied.