Memories of the cruise
Wayne boarded the ship on June 16th, 1977. He started his journey from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and finally got off in Sydney, Australia on July 27th that year. His cabin mates were Helge who was then 24 years old, Larry (31 years old) and Harry (72 years old). Wayne had his 24th birthday on July 1st, and celebrated it by having four attractive female friends rub him down with a skin lotion, due to sunburn!

One of the first people he met on the first day on the ship was Mrs. A. Leland Gates a very nice lady from Philadelphia who was in her mid ‘80’s. She asked him if he would mind stopping by to have a short chat with her once a day. Wayne agreed and they both did so for the entire trip, except when he was really ill.

Sometime after leaving Nassau (Bahamas), passengers were informed by a note put under the door that the Australis would not be stopping at Rotterdam. Instead te ship would stop at Cherbourg, France for a day, then travel to Southampton UK, for a two day refit.

From July 19th to 22nd he spent most of the time in bed, due to the “Australis Trots”. Wayne almost passed out going down stairs to see the ship’s Doctor. When he went into his office, the Doctor was sitting behind his desk, smoking a large cigar. When the Doctor asked him to open his mouth to check his tongue and throat, he “accidently” blew cigar smoke into Wayne's mouth and he came extremely close to projectile vomiting! Wayne was prescribed some Sulphur pills, the only thing he ate was bread rolls which his cabin mates brought back, plus he only drank water!

A day before arriving in Cherbourg France, there was a drinking contest that lasted 22 hours and was called “Australia versus the rest of the World Beer Drinking Contest”! Once you started, the only way out was to throw up, or pass up! Fortunately Wayne was still under the weather and did not participate, but he did photograph this “International” event! Wayne recalls the meals, and remembes that no matter how thick, or what colour the soup was which they served with the meals, every soup had carrots in it! Hors d’oeuvres for dinner consisted of a single item the size of a tablespoon, passengers had the choice of three types, so Wayne decided to choose one of each type!

Wayne tells me that when the ship docked in Cherbourg, there were a number of guys on board who were rather jealous of Wayne, because of his dates! He spent the day with twins from South Africa, and had a lovely lunch in a beautiful small park in the middle of town. He purchased two bottles of Mumm’s Champagne, some French bread and cheese! He still had an upset stomach, but the company certainly made up for the discomfort!

Just before wayne and his friends got off the ship in Los Palmas (Canary Islands), Mrs. Gates asked him to pick her up a “case of Vodka”; her doctor told her it was better for her to drink Vodka, than Gin! The Vodka cost 2 pounds per bottle and he also picked up four cheap bottles of Whiskey!

Shortly after leaving Las Palmas, there was another note put under the cabin door, this time it said that the ship would not be going through the Mediterranean Sea, or onto Egypt and then on through the Suez Canal! Instead they would be heading south to Cape Town (South Africa), to pick up several hundred passengers! Half way across the Indian Ocean, at the time of the year when there are no other ships there, the only running engine broke down! The engineers were kept really busy, scrounging lots of different parts from the second engine!

After leaving Freemantle in Australia, the ship got into some rough weather around the “Great Bite”! Ropes was strung up on all decks, with sick bags every 6 feet or so! Wayne's mighty group of "13" hung out at the bar, with one hand firmly grabbing the table leg and one on the beer glass! As there were 13 in wayne's group, they couldn’t shut the bar down, so they braved the storm and proudly didn’t spill a drop! During his six and a half weeks on the cruise, Wayne spent approximately $300.00 for beer (35 cents a can) and Canadian Club with ginger ale (50 cents), plus four bottles of whiskey and a bottle of Everclear which he purchased in Cape Town.

After arriving in Sydney he found out that there were no vacancies at Taronga Park Zoo. Wayne took an overnight train to Melbourne, and got work at a Zoo there for three and a half months in their Ape/Primate Dept. and Macropod Dept. After this job ended he went back to Sydney to work at Taronga Park Zoo for four and a half months in their Bird and small carnivore/primate area. He also went up to Dubbo and spent four days working at the Western Plains Zoo.

While in Australia Wayne kept in touch with friends he met on the cruise who lived in Sydney and Melbourne. While working in Melbourne, a group of his friends would meet up every second Saturday night and go out to a night club. After leaving Australia he kept in touch with a few friends. On his return to Australia in Nov./Dec. ’84, he spent a couple of days with one of the girls he was with on the ship, she was now married with two kids and lived in Brisbane.

Wayne travelled to Adelaide to volunteer at the Adelaide Zoo for a month with their Primates, Birds, Orang-utans, Chimpanzees and the South American Section. Then he returned to Sydney, before taking six months travelling across South-east Asia, Europe and Great Britain. He then flew over to Washington D.C. where his parents met him and they all drove back to Canada!

Wayne was usually called the “Canadian” or the Zookeeper”, and he is quite sure he was the only Canadian Zookeeper on board!





Many thanks to Wayne Jackson for his contribution to the site.

View Wayne's photos taken in 1977: Wayne Jackson's Picture Gallery.

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Welcome all visitors to the S.S. Australis Website, which has now been online since 1998!

I will continue to update the site if I receive a new story, or if you have interesting photos taken on the ship during your voyage on either the southbound, northbound, or on one of the South Pacific cruises. We used to do those trips several times a year from Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland (New Zealand).

I am deeply moved by the interest and wonderful contributions from the numerous passengers and crew over many years.

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Warm Regards


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