"Home" for a rest (After walkabout) - Dec 22nd - Jan 1st.

This is a test .Back in Sydney we had a relaxing afternoon/evening with everyone here telling them about our adventures over the past 3 weeks. Seems by the time we are done we'll have seen more of Australia then many people who live here. Since flying Sydney to Darwin is the equivalent of flying Vancouver -Toronto - it's not surprising that many Queenslanders likely haven't been to the thern Territory. We had dinner at The Scott's whom really welcomed us and as it turns out their daughter is in Canada (Banff to Vancouver) ! Great Aussie hospitality.

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Now with it being just a couple days before Christmas we decided we better do abit of Christmas shopping ( no room in cases or vehicles till now !). We took the ferry into town as that is the easiest way to get around in this harbour city. A refreshing way to travel and we got our first glimpse of the Sydney Bridge ( incl people climbing it as is a tourist attraction) and of course the Opera house ( a stunning structure to behold regardless of how many postcards we've seen it on). It was really busy in town so this was just a shopping day - sightseeing in Sydney will have to wait till next week when we hope it is abit less busy.

Blue Mountians

Blue Mountains

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Had a nice dinner with a lovely friend/collegue of Bev's...Maria. She's such a sweetie - she came by the next day to give us a gift for Christmas ! This was perfect = a figurine of a truly 'Aussie' Santa - dressed in full beachwear, lounging in an umbrella chair with a drink in his hand. Love it !

Bev and Lucy decided to do as much of the cooking for Christmas during the day on the eve so we could all enjoy our day abit more on the 25th so between wrapping presents, cooking, and tidying up in prep for the guests...the 24th was done before we knew it. The evening had the BBC airing a Walllace and Gromit 'Creature Christmas' clay-mation cartoon so we all had good fun watching that together as both John (Duffy) and Alex (The Duffer) are BIG Wallace and Gromit fans.

Christmas Day was really special for all of us... John was really happy to have some more Duffield's to even out the numbers with the Dunbar Clan. Everyone got along fabulously, the meal was terrific and many laughs were shared through-out the day while we told of our journey's in the Northern Territory and Warren (Bev's brother) and his family told of their recent trip to Thailand. Good fun and even had a special visitor ! Santa popped by so I put in a good word for the Canadians as he was heading that way next.

Boxing Day is the start of the Sydney to Hobart Sailing Boat race so we decided to venture out to see the boats leave the harbour even though it was cool and rainy. We had a good viewing spot on the cliffs of Watson Bay as about 100 sail boats came around the point and headed to the open ocean. There was some really huge boats but also smaller ones and zillions of pleasure craft zipping in and amongst them to 'see them off'. We had tickets in the evening to see 'AVATAR' in 3D on the world's largest Imax screen. This was SUPER cool and the movie is brilliant. We might even have to see it again before it leaves the theatre !
  Xmas at Duffs

We took a rest day on the 27th and just hung out at the house doing laundry, reading books, and playing on the computer. (and watching the "Survivor" episodes and finale that we had missed !)

The next day was rainy and grey so we decided to head into town and check out the Opera House. Unfortunately the 'tour' is the only way to see the inside and it costs $ 90 for 1 hour for the 3 of us. We're thinking we might just book tickets to see something and put $ 90 towards both seeing the inside and an evening entertainment ! TBA on that.


The weather warmed abit so we checked out Government House and part of the Royal Botanical Gardens. The trees and various plants were really vibrant colors since it had just rained so hopefully the photos will reflect it. A quick and amusing stroll through Chinatown and then we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner out in Darling Harbour. The sunset cast a really neat light on the harbour and finished off the day with style.

Well the sun was back again today so Alex jumped out of bed and made us a big breakfast before another day of sight seeing ! We had plans to go to Manly, Bondi Beach etc...etc...However we got to Manly - loved the beach, rock pools and cliffs and so never made it any further then that ! The town has a wide open shopping strip with all the beachwear shops (Billabong, Roxy, etc...) intermixed with really cheap souvenir shops and icecream at every second store. The beach was busy but great for surfers of all skills so that was amusing for us. There was a beachfront seawall and a big pool cut into the rock and so we hung out and played there for abit. The shoreline is 'decorated' with a million different types of rounded and smoothed shells and glass pieces so it has all the colors of the rainbow and Enya best described the sand as 'Brown Sugar'. We hiked up abit to a great lookout point on the cliffs so check out Alex's VR of that area too. We walked back through the residential area of the Lucky Bums that get to be stinking rich enough to own property on the shores here. Don't even want to think about what these amazing views and beach access properties must cost. Gorgeous. Now home for a quiet evening of updating the website.  



We decided to head back up to Ku-ring-gui National Park on the 30th to see if we could find the aboriginal stone carvings and Red Hands Cave that was supposed to be really interesting to see per out guide brochure. After hiking downhill for 3 km we were told that the carvings are up near the car park and are really hard to find unless you know what your looking for. UGH !

We hiked back up and ran into a guide that knew what they were...turns out they are VERY basic line drawings on the rocks under your feet. You literally could stand on top of them and not know it. Unfortunately vandals have destroyed many signs etc...and so the park caretakers have not replaced them. We did find the Red Hands Cave much easier but these carvings also were vandalized and not the striking images that it may otherwise have been. It's sickening to think of the destruction of these carvings that are roughly dated to 2000 years old. We did find some that were intact and easier to see and hopefully the pics show them well enough. Men, women, animals etc...are the common theme.

We ended the day at Palm Beach were there were tiny shells all over the beach so Enya made a flower picture with them. Nadja hiked up to the lighthouse view point and took her first VR sequence. Hopefully it turns out as it was a hot and swetty climb to get up there in near 40degree temp. The view was stunning as you can see to both the ocean side and inland beach and the lighthouse building itself was a beautiful combination of wood and brick.

Next Day was New Years Eve - we had been warned to head downtown at about noon in order to be sure to get a decent view. We left the house at 9:30 am, arrived at the 'line up area' at 10:15 and we finally got into the gated area at 1:00 ! While in the line up we met another couple (Lusie and James) from England and after spending 3 hours chatting and waiting with them - we all decided to sit together for the fireworks too. We managed an unobstructed view of the Opera House and city with a partial view of the Harbour Bridge. There were people that had camped overnight or arrived at 6 am sitting within meters of us ! We played cards, read books and chatted all day until the festivities began in the evening. There was a harbour boat light parade and an earlier fireworks show at 9:30 for families. The midnight show was terrific as they set off fireworks from beside the Opera House, off the tops of the city buildings, from barges in the harbour and of course all along the bridge. So much going on that you were not sure where to look ! The colors and variety of fireworks were brilliant. Lusie and James managed to get a good vantage point to video the whole show so once we are home and they are back in England we will get it by email. The pictures didnt turn out so sorry but can't show you how spectacular it was... Leaving the area wasnt as bad as we thought it would be as the volunteers really know how to deal with traffic flow - that being said the commute home on the bus afterwards took much too long for Enya as she was definitly 'done' by 3 a.m. !