Radiant welcome for cruise ship
Cruise ship passengers toured Hedland’s beaches, historic sites, mining work camps and even took to the skies during their visit last Wednesday.
With around 3000 passengers cruising into Hedland aboard liner, Radiance of the Seas, local volunteers set up market stalls for the visitors and took them on guided tours to Cemetery Beach, the Don Rhodes Mining Museum and BHP Billiton’s Nelson Point port operations.
Yet there were also more unusual requests, such as UK passenger Martin Kellett and his support worker Shaun Green, who asked visitor centre staff if they could book a scenic helicopter flight.
“It has been Martin’s lifetime ambition to come to Australia ... and (he also) loves helicopters ,” Mr Green said.
“On the ship from our balcony we could see that there were helicopters and (that is why) I asked ... if there was helicopter rides.”
However, with local helicopter reserved for use by marine pilots flying out to iron ore carriers lying at anchor, tourism advocate Natasha Fry instead suggested the duo book a flight on a fixed-wing plane with local company Polar Aviation.
Mr Kellett seemed equally thrilled, despite the change.
“I really do love flying,” he said, while waiting for a taxi to arrive to take him out to Hedland’s airport for the flight.
Yet Mr Kellet’s unique request was only one among a range of tourism firsts to come out of last week’s cruise ship visit.
After taking three bus loads of 50 tourists each on tours of Hedland’s historic sites, long-time Hedland resident Julie Arif said the recent visit was the most exciting by a cruise ship yet.
In addition to her tour, cruise ship passengers also filled five bus loads touring BHP’s port operations, while buses also visited Cemetery Beach’s turtle nesting grounds and a local fly-in, fly-out workers camp for the first time.
Mr Green said the enthusiastic welcome and service provided by volunteers and visitor centre staff was world class.
“That Hedland volunteers give up their time to welcome us is fantastic,” he said.
“I’ve been all around Europe and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
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