Fond memories of Australia’s much-loved Fairstar

Malcolm Andrews highlighted the ship's 22 years of cruising from Australia in his book ’The Fabulous Fairstar' Malcolm Andrews highlighted the ship's 22 years of cruising from Australia in his book ’The Fabulous Fairstar'

The death of veteran Australian journalist Malcolm Andrews this week has renewed memories of Sitmar’s Fairstar which cruised out of Sydney for 22 years.

Andrews, who wrote ‘The Fabulous Fairstar — The Ship That Launched A Million Memories,’ fell in love with the original ‘fun ship’ when he set off from Sydney for Fleet Street in 1967.

Carrying 'ten-quid’ British and European migrants to Australia

Built in 1957 as the British troopship Oxfordshire, she was purchased by the Vlasov Group and began sailing as Sitmar’s Fairstar in 1964. She carried hundreds of thousands of ‘ten-quid’ British and European migrants to Australia on line voyages from the UK until she was home-ported in Sydney in December 1974 for year-round cruising.

In his book Andrews wrote about the memorable dinners hosted by Captain Augusto Lagomarsini in his Sala Commando and how he would turn to the woman nearest him and whisper seductively:  ‘You like a kiss now?’ As a startled look spread across her face, Lago would produce a tray of his favourite ‘Kiss’ chocolates.

Andrews even gave the recipe for the flaming Bombe Alaska that dining room stewards paraded at gala dinners to the ‘March of the Toreadors.’

Special relationship with Port Vila

The people of Port Vila had a special relationship with Fairstar. Its crew, with the support of passengers over the years, maintained the Fairstar ward for children at the local hospital and the mayor declared a public holiday for the ship’s final visit on January 27, 1997.

Just about everything that could float made up the amazing flotilla that escorted Fairstar out of Port Vila, with banners flying in the breeze that read:  ‘Goodbye, old mate.’

 

Posted 12 October 2018

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Helen Hutcheon

Australasia correspondent

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