I woke to a cloudy day, with a strong wind and wondered if this meant the day would be lost. Gradually though, the sky cleared to a beautiful day, before turning dark towards the end. I even had some rain.
My first breakfast at the Grand Hotel in their restaurant Malu Paru made me think I’d dodged a bullet with dinner being booked out last night. Included free with the room was a buffet breakfast of bacon so solid it seemed days old, wrinkled baked beans, odd tasting scrambled eggs and even odder tasting mushrooms. The best dish was French toast but that wasn’t fresh either.
Following a very underwhelming breakfast I made my way around the East of the island, near two very large wind turbines. A sign told me this half-island walk would be 3.3km.
Above is a panorama I took towards the start of my walk. In the centre is Horn Island, and on the left in the distance is Wednesday Island.
The walking track lead to Lions Lookout, and I assume this was it, though you could see great views the entire way. I assume this was from WWII, like with Green Hill Fort, but there were no signs and it was clearly run down. Still, a good view out over the Arafura Sea.
On the North side of Thursday Island I had a view out to Hammond Island (on the left in the above picture), hiding behind, though not very well considering its size!
With my walk complete, saving the East side of the island and the wind turbines for tomorrow, I stopped off at a local market held fortnightly and took advantage to get some gifts. With Christmas presents sorted, it was time for lunch at Uncle Frankie’s Cafe (I kid you not). Despite a mixup with my order being takeaway when I’d chosen to eat there, it was good and filled me up too much for what was to come on Friday island.
I made my way down to engineers wharf shortly before 13:00. This was the same place I first stepped onto Thursday Island, so I didn’t get lost. As I was early I took a photo of the turtle sculpture that I’d seen on postcards. It was very hot in the sun.
The water taxi was quick, whisking a few of us over to Friday Island, where we were met at the dock and guided up to a dining hall for lunch. It was at this stage I wished I hadn’t eaten. I can’t tell you what we had exactly because I didn’t write anything down and there was a slit translation issue, but the food was really good. I wish I could have finished it all, but I definitely had my fill and came away satiated. The lunch lasted for nearly 2 hours!
Below are all 6 courses, with the fourth course, served on the blue plate, being the pearl shell meat, which can fetch up to $400/kg. To be honest, I found it too chewy for my liking, but the rest was delicious.
This is turning into a food blog again!
After lunch, we met Kazu Takami, the owner/operator who’s lived here for over 40 years. He took us through the process of prying open the shell, showing us the anatomy, and demonstrating how to implant a seed for the pearl, and then removing a pearl too. Quite a demanding task at times, considering it takes over 2 years to go from seed to pearl, with some failure along the way.
Finally, we headed to the shop, but I couldn’t find anything that took my fancy. I bought a couple postcards. We then boarded our taxi and headed back.
I was happy to get back to a (fixed) air conditioned room, allowing me time to cool off, write this blog and work out a plan for dinner.