Indulging his long interest in the sea , ships and keen to interview mermaids in every port along the bounding main , our nautical reporter was "a-salt-ed " when he went looking for maritime oddities in North Australia . In Cairns , at the admirable Crackerbox Palace , he fell for a Japanese salt and pepper set , known in the trade as salts, a souvenir of the inland port of Echuca , Victoria , in the shape of the famous Murray River paddle steamer , Adelaide , the oldest wooden vessel of its kind in the world , built in Sydney in 1866, placed ashore as a statistic display after many years , mainly rebuilt and recommissioned once more as a working riverboat by Prince Charles and Princess Diana .
As can be expected, the thirsty S(h)ipping Reporter knows and has uttered many a salty oath while serving before the mast under famous skippers , the mad Captain Ahab, who unknowingly kicked off the Starbucks coffee and whaleburger chain , one of them . In an endeavour to improve and polish his cussing , he snapped up A Dictionary of Sea Quotations , by Edward Duyker, originally sold by the River Tales Bookshop , Margaret River , Western Australia, at a garage sale on Magnetic Island .
Then from an op shop north of Cairns , awash with many interesting books , came the delightful Last Port Lyttelton The Life and Reminiscences of Captain William Laird Whitby 1838-1922, signed by author Colin Whitmore Venimore , a ripping read about a boy who went to sea at the age of 14, became an eyewitness to the famous bloody Charge of the Light Brigade into the Valley of Death in the Crimean War where he collected a large number of Russian muskets as souvenirs , became involved in the Battle of Inkerman , and survived many dangerous voyages , including encounters with pirates , ending up in New Zealand , blind late in life .
Tacking about the Cairns CBD , our reporter dropped anchor in an old wares shop , Kaotica , in the Oceana Walk Arcade , where he inspected the above attractive table (reflections from neon lights ) with a shipping scene inlay on top , a bound in 1915 volume of New Zealand Gazettes nearby for $50 . Although he liked the table, it would not fit into his kitbag , so he reluctantly left it behind .
Because of a family interest in the early meat export trade from New Zealand to the Mother Country in which a bundle of money was lost due to the freezing plant breaking down during the voyage , the first day cover above marking the centenary of the frozen meat industry was bought at the monthly Tolga market on a bitterly cold day after a wet and windy drive from Cairns up the Kuranda Range road .
Our S(h)ipping Reporter says he was disappointed to see the unusual old Adelaide Steamship Company building in the Cairns CBD is still empty and suggests that a large maritime photographic display could be placed inside .