Leaving Sydney and Starting Cruise to New Zealand  

April 23, 2024

Embark on a journey from Sydney to New Zealand aboard the Norwegian Spirit cruise ship.
Explore the wonders of Australia, from the historic town of Eden to the picturesque seaside town of Penguin in Tasmania. 


If you were listening to last week’s episode, you’ll know that I’m in Sydney, and I’m joined by my good friend and travel buddy, ‘Cynthia Globe’. We met in Florida a few years ago and found out that we travel well together. Since then, we’ve done several trips together, and now we’re heading to New Zealand on a 12-day cruise from Sydney. 

Before crossing over to New Zealand, we have three stops in Australia: Eden, Tasmania, and Melbourne. That’s where we’re going in this episode. But first, we’re sailing out of the famous Sydney Harbour.


We’ve boarded the Norwegian Spirit heading from Sydney in Australia to Auckland in New Zealand.

It’s an epic ship that’s been sailing the high seas for over two decades – so let’s have a few facts about this ship.

FACTS ABOUT The Norwegian Spirit


She’s a big girl. Seriously huge, measuring 268 meters long – almost three soccer fields, and weighing a massive 77,000 gross tons. That’s about the same weight as 64 fully loaded Boeing 747 jumbo jets or 22,000 grown-up elephants!


So, this isn’t your grandma’s rowboat; we’re talking about a massive ship with over 1,000 cabins capable of carrying over 2,000 passengers with two people in each cabin. And at full capacity with every bed filled, this ship holds 2,532 passengers and about 900 crew members. That’s practically a small town at sea.


Launched way back in 1998, the Spirit has gotten a few facelifts and seen more makeovers than a reality TV star over the years to keep her looking fresh. Just before this cruise she underwent a 100-million-dollar renovation, so she’s packing all the latest modern amenities you’d expect on a modern cruise ship. 


On board, you’ll find not one, not two, but a whopping 17 dining options. If you can’t find something you like to eat here, you might just be too picky. From fancy French bistros to all-you-can-eat buffets.


There’s also plenty of space to spread out over the Spirit’s 12 decks there’s more to do here than at a summer fair. Casinos, Broadway shows, spas, and pools – if you’re bored, that’s on you. The ship even has a basketball court. Yes, you can shoot hoops in the middle of the ocean. Talk about a game with a view!

Overall, the Norwegian Spirit is an oldie but a goodie, packed with more dining options than days of the week, entertainment that could rival Vegas, and a charm that keeps guests coming back. She’s a world traveller, an entertainment hub, and a foodie’s paradise, all rolled into one. So, if you’re looking for an adventure at sea, the Norwegian Spirit is your gal.


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Eden: Whale Watching Without Whales

Our first stop on the cruise was Eden. Eden is a small town on the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is south of Sydney. When we got on land, I asked one of the locals the first question: “Do you have a Garden of Eden?”. Eden has a population of just over 3,000 people. It is a historic whaling town. Now, it is known for its beautiful natural scenery and rich maritime heritage.  Cynthia and I decided not to book a tour. We just went for a walk to explore. When we got off the ship, we walked into a small tourist office on the wharf. We wanted to get some advice. This is Cheryl, at the tourist office. She gave us lots of free advice.

Boyd’s Tower

We did not know much about Boyd’s Tower – but now we do. It is a story worth telling. It involves ambition, rivalry, and comedy. The story is set in the beautiful town of Eden. The main character is Benjamin Boyd, an entrepreneur from the 19th century. He had more money than sense and a very big ambition that matched the tall structure he built. Boyd was rich, ambitious, and loved big projects. He built a tower, thinking,  

“I’ll make a lighthouse to help my whaling ships. That way, the ships will dock here on my side of the bay – and spend their money over here.”   

The tower was tall and made of beautiful sandstone. It looked exactly like a lighthouse…except for one tiny detail. Boyd never got permission to actually use it as a lighthouse. Oops! It’s like baking a huge, delicious birthday cake but then realizing you forgot to tell anyone there is a party. Now, here is where it gets interesting. Some say Boyd simply forgot to ask for permission to light his tower. But when you chat with locals, like Cheryl at the tourist office, you hear a different story. She says Boyd chose not to light it because he thought, “If I can’t have it my way, I won’t have it at all!”  

Imagine Boyd, with his hands on his hips, looking up at his tower and saying, “No light for you, mate!” Whether he forgot to ask, got denied, or simply chose not to light it, Boyd’s Tower never did its job as a lighthouse. Instead, it became a lookout for whales – and a marker for ships, even without lights.  

And what became of Boyd? Well, his dreams were bigger than his wallet could handle. Eventually, he ran out of money. He then set his sights on the California Gold Rush. He planned to transport passengers and supplies to the goldfields in California. He hoped to earn money from the huge demand created by the gold rush. But that did not work out for him. So, he decided to explore the Pacific Islands. In 1851, he travelled to the Solomon Islands, where he met his mysterious end. Some say pirates killed him. Some think he started a new life under a different name. Others say indigenous people on the Solomon Islands killed him. But there is no definitive evidence to confirm exactly what happened to him. Today, Boyd’s Tower is a cool reminder of big dreams, stubbornness, and how history can leave us guessing. So, when you are in Eden, take a moment to see this tower that never shone its light. It is a funny story of a man and his tower – a lighthouse that was never a real lighthouse. 

Rotary Park: A True Garden of Eden

We walked to the Eden Lookout in Rotary Park. From there, we saw the tower across Twofold Bay. It was just a short walk from the cruise terminal to the park. And the walk itself was scenic. It gave us a taste of Eden’s natural beauty. It is rumoured that Rotary Park is a great place for whale watching.

No Whales in Sight 

Though we visited in March and missed the whale migration season, which peaks between May and November, we learned this area is a prime spot for witnessing the annual journey of humpback whales.   

Standing in Rotary Park, we were captivated by the panoramic views of the ocean, imagining the sight of whales breaching in the distance during the right season. And on the other side of the bay, we could see a tower on the top of the hill.  

This experience, even without the whales, was a cool start to our adventure towards New Zealand. 

Australia’s Quirkiest Named Places 

I mentioned Point Danger earlier. As I said, it is so typically Australian to have a place name like that. Australia is famous for its quirky and sometimes humorous place names. These names often show the country’s rich history, indigenous languages, and the classic Australian love for jokes. Here are some of my favourite examples: 

First, let’s talk about “Woolloomooloo”. It is a place with eight O’s in its name, making it not only a tongue-twister but also one of the longest place names in Australia. Then there is a place called “Useless Loop”. You have to wonder about the story behind this name. It might not sound inviting, but it is memorable. And for adventurers, there is “Mount Buggery” waiting. Yes, you heard that right. It is as challenging as its name sounds, and climbing it really might feel like the name suggests. Have you ever heard of “Humpybong” or “Foul Bay”? You can imagine what it might smell like there. Then there are places like “Come By Chance”, “Poowong”, and “Humpty Doo”.  Now, brace yourself for “Tittybong” and of course “The City of Cockburn”. It is spelled in a way that might raise eyebrows, but remember, it is pronounced “Coburn” without the “ck”. It is almost disappointing after seeing the sign.  Last but not least, three names from Tasmania, where we are heading next on the cruise. There you can find places like “Eggs and Bacon Bay”, “Nowhere Else”, and let’s not forget “Doo Town.” Australia has many place names like these. They remind us not to take life too seriously.  

After all, how can you, when you are heading to Poowong after taking a detour through Useless Loop on your way to Come By Chance and Nowhere Else via Tittybong, Poowong and Foul Bay? 

Heading to Tasmania 

We docked in Burnie to visit Tasmania. Burnie is just north of the place called Nowhere Else, but far from Eggs and Bacon Bay and Doo Town. Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is known for its rugged wilderness areas, over 2,000 km of walking tracks, and 18 national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  It is separated from mainland Australia by the Bass Strait. Not many people know that Tasmania was once connected to the Australian mainland by a land bridge.  

Around 11,000 years ago, rising sea levels drowned this land bridge, creating the Bass Strait we know today. Tasmania is about 68,401 square kilometers in size. It is the 26th largest island in the world and actually bigger than my home country of Denmark. Denmark’s newly crowned King married a Tasmanian woman, so as a Dane, I felt a bit of connection to this island through our Queen Mary.   

Tasmania is almost the exact same size as Sri Lanka. However, unlike Sri Lanka which has over 22 million people, Tasmania only has about 570,000 people – or 2% of Australia’s total population.   

Some unique facts about Tasmania: It has the cleanest air in the world and is one of the last places to see the southern lights or Aurora Australis. Tasmania is also famous for one thing – the Tasmanian Devil, a unique little animal found only on this island. It is very different than the cartoon character Taz from Looney Tunes, which depicts a whirlwind of chaos. The real Tasmanian Devil is a shy creature that primarily searches for food. But it sounds and looks a bit scary with its robust build, black fur, and aggressive temperament, especially when feeding or threatened. This leads to its infamous screech. It looks almost as scary as it sounds.

Connected to Mainland Australia 

The island of Tasmania is still very connected to mainland Australia. When we were on the bus from the cruise terminal to Burnie, the driver talked a bit about this connection. There are daily ferries to and from Melbourne – both from Burnie and Davenport, about an hour’s drive east along Tasmania’s northern coast.  

The driver said that the Bass Strait between Tasmania and Melbourne can get quite rough. If we felt it crossing on the big cruise ship Norwegian Spirit, we should try crossing on the smaller ferry called “The Spirit of Tasmania” – or as he calls it, “The Tassi Spirit.” The trip across takes around 9-11 hours, and some days they have one ferry in the morning and one at night.  

So, Davenport and Burnie are the third and fourth largest towns on the island of Tasmania. Burnie used to be bigger, but that changed when the large paper mill in Burnie closed down. The closure of this major employer was a huge deal for the town, causing Burnie’s population to shrink. 

Mayor of the City Greets Us 

Even though losing the paper mill was a big blow, Burnie bounced back by finding new ways to grow – like tourism. This is evident because as we got into the center of Burnie, the Mayor of the city, Teeny Brumby, was there personally waiting to welcome us. She gave us a talk about all the great things the city has to offer. Apparently, it is a big deal for the town when a large cruise ship docks for the day.

They even brought out bagpipes to greet us. Like many parts of Australia, Burnie has a rich heritage of Scottish settlers. The history of Scottish immigration to Australia dates back to the early European settlement days, and Tasmania was no exception. Scottish settlers were among the Europeans who made their way to the island, attracted by opportunities for land and a new life. So this explains the presence of bagpipes playing as we arrived in Burnie.

Tasmania’s Bird-Inspired Seaside Town

Even though the Mayor of Burnie promoted the city well, and they had bagpipes welcoming us, we had already decided to go a bit east to search for some small animals. Not the Tasmanian Devil, but another small and much cuter animal. We went to a charmingly named town called Penguin, looking for the feathered animal it took its name from. 

This picturesque seaside town was named in 1861 after the little penguins (Eudyptula minor) that are commonly seen along the Tasmanian coastline. These adorable creatures are known for their evening parade, when they return to shore after a day of fishing in the ocean. However, the penguins are much harder to spot during the day, as Mark at the local Penguin Tourist Office told us.

No Penguins in Sight 

We had heard that watching the penguins waddle back to their nests in Penguin is a truly charming experience. But since we needed to be back in Burnie to catch the last bus to the cruise ship at 5pm, we would not be able to see the penguins’ evening parade. A bit disappointing, but…no worries, as they say here. 

Instead, we went to see “The Big Penguin” – a statue that stands at about 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) tall. It stands proudly in the town center, and it’s a popular spot for photos. It’s a cheerful welcome to visitors – and locals – representing the playful spirit of this coastal Tasmanian town.   

The town itself has fully embraced the penguin theme, which adds to its charm. Most businesses have “Penguin” in their names – so we saw many logos featuring drawings of penguins. There’s the Penguin Beachfront Apartments, Penguin Waterfront Escape, The Penguin Pantry, Penguin Lions Op Bottle Shop, Penguin Food Bar, Sunrise at Penguin, and a bed & breakfast called High On Penguin – just to name a few. Throughout the small town, you’ll find various penguin statues and themed decorations, making it a fun place for a relaxed stroll. 

But if you’re only interested in spotting the actual live penguins, the best time is at dusk, especially during the breeding season from around September to March. So again, like in Eden, we missed seeing the main attraction. But we still enjoyed our visit to Penguin. 

Melbourne Next 

Even though our visit to Tasmania was short, I really enjoyed the vibe of the island. So much so, that it’s high on my list of places I want to go back to and spend more time. I want to experience the capital city Hobart, do a road trip around the island, and meet the locals. Hey, maybe I can even find a partner like our King Frederik did and marry a Tasmanian. 

Anyway, we had to get back on the cruise ship because…you know, we’ve gotta keep moving. 

Our next stop is Melbourne, back on the mainland of Australia. Here we have an appointment with a local we got in contact with through Couchsurfing. He has promised to show us around the city.

Wanna Cruise With Me? 

If all this talk about cruising has made you want to go on one – and you consider yourself a bit of a traveller or nomad – I recommend considering going on the next Nomad Cruise. It’s a conference held on a cruise ship for nomads and people who like to travel a lot and maybe work while traveling, like I do. 

We start in Vancouver on the west coast of Canada on September 29th and go to Alaska. That’s going to be awesome, but that’s not all – we continue all the way to Tokyo, where we’ll arrive on October 13th. It’s a big cruise ship like the one I’m on, but on top of all the cool amenities of a modern cruise ship, we’ll have keynote speakers, workshops, meetups, and most importantly, a great community of like-minded people. 

I’ve done four of these cruises so far, and from the start, I felt I had found my tribe. It’s very inclusive, with people of all ages, genders, and across the full rainbow spectrum. 

Interested in seeing more? Go to NomadCruise.com and check out some of their videos and read more about what it’s all about. If you want to join us on that trip from Canada to Japan, you can get 100 Euros off your price if you use the code “RadioVagabond”. And then I hope to see you between Canada and Japan later this year – or on one of the future Nomad Cruises. 

My name is Palle Bo. See you on the next one!  


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