Day 105: Catamaran to Devonport and the naval museum

After a gloomy start to the day, we strolled down to the Ferry Building to catch the catamaran to Devonport.

There is substantial development taking place in Auckland as the city’s Master Plan starts to take shape. Much of the work that seems to be taking place at the moment is along the waterfront and where the metro will be extended.

So, many of the streets are boarded up or blocked off as construction takes place. Where you can see the city’s buildings there are some striking structures.

Our destination was the Ferry Building.

It’s a stunning building, the colour of the brickwork reminding me a little of Central Station (the one that is now luxury apartments). Completed in 1912 on reclaimed land, it is built of sandstone and brick, with a base of Coromandel granite

You must be winning pub quizzes with all of this trivia by now.

For a fee of 15 NZD (no senior citizen discount for Mr How Fucking Much) the catamaran took us from Auckland across the water to Devonport.

Operated by Fuller’s that’s a new mode of transport for my trip.

Crossing the water, we were given a taste of why Auckland is called the City of Sails as we passed several yachts out in the sunshine.

As well as commercial and container harbours in the city, there are marinas where more than 500,000 sailboats and yachts in various sizes are anchored and moored.

For those of us of a certain age, with a memory of utterly rubbish Sunday night TV in 1980s Britain, the theme tune to Howard’s Way may have popped into your mind.

Devonport is a small suburb, its two main streets by the shore lined with cafes and small shops.

We walked along the bay to the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum.

On the way, we met two people who were seeking the Execution Point. They were bloggers and planning to write about it.

We helped them locate the small stone embedded in the ground that marked the spot and to say they were a little disappointed would be an understatement.

I suppose they’ll be looking for another topic for today’s blog. They would have been better off joining us at the Navy Museum.

It’s free to enter and though a small exhibition, it charts the creation of New Zealand’s Navy from serving the British Empire, through operating as New Zealand’s own service and highlights key naval battles through global and international conflicts.

It is an utterly absorbing museum.

On entry to the museum, one of the staff welcomed us and very kindly gave us an introduction to some of the exhibits. This was completely unexpected and greatly appreciated as she pointed out facts that, as international visitors, we wouldn’t have been aware of.

For example, this is the Museum’s pounamu (jade found only on South Island) which holds the Museum’s essence or mauri. It watches over the Museum and supports the noble endeavours of the staff and visitors to the exhibition.

Pounamu is culturally significant to Māori and all New Zealanders because it links heaven and earth, along with the stars and water.

The lady told us that all New Zealand naval ships have a pounamu to protect it. These are usually hidden somewhere on the ship by the engineers.

We also discussed this picture as it was taken around the time that permission was given for New Zealand to have it’s own navy rather than the Empire navy.

However, this was during World War Two and resources were limited so all of these sailors are wearing HMS caps rather than HMNZS.

What interested us most was the cat sitting on one of the sailor’s hats… and the facial expressions of two of the men nearby. One of them clearly loved the cat while one of them was less of a fan.

On a further animal related note, the story of Pelorus Jack, a dog with his own naval documentation including certificate of service, injury records and a will (which specified his successor should be honest and not a daschund) was one that intrigued us.

This bad tempered dog joined the service, as a puppy, in 1913 and was not popular with the crew.(They should have got a cat).

Unfortunately, at least for Pelorus Jack, he met an unhappy end after falling down the forward funnel and was ‘Discharged Dead’ from the Navy on 24 April 1916.

How he ended up down the funnel is unknown. Chasing seagulls? Or perhaps a more sinister explanation is necessary?

Columbo is never around when you need him.

From here we headed for lunch to the Stone Oven Cafe and Bakery. For around 15 NZD we sampled the freshly prepared and baked on the premises goodies.

And the teapot offered surprisingly copious top-ups of tea. Always a win.

The crossing back to Auckland city centre offered an amazing view of the skyline.

*Featured Photo: The ferry on it’s way back to Auckland City.

Categories: New Zealand, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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