Christmas Down Under

In 2009 we spent nearly three weeks in Australia over Christmas. We started out on a horse ranch in the Hunter Valley.  The weather was overcast and drizzly but I went for long walks every morning looking for kangaroos in the wild. My record spotting was thirty-two. 

The Hunter Valley is famous for its vineyards and we spent a day touring seven wineries. We learned all sorts of interesting things 

kangaroos are good for vineyards since they eat the weeds

Chinese winemakers are coming to Australia in droves to study the craft

the loud explosions we kept hearing were gas guns being fired to scare away pesky grape-eating birds from the vineyards

making wine casks is becoming a lost art

there are a growing number of female wine makers and in Australia

a book is published annually called Wine Dogs about dogs that make their homes in wineries. 

Next we were off to the Blue Mountains where we stayed at a charming bed and breakfast built in 1905. Our hosts Trevor and Marion served us sumptuous four course breakfasts. 

We toured the Jenolan Caves and learned the early cave explorers gave all the different stalactite and stalagmite formations interesting names so they would recognize them as landmarks that would help to mark their way as they journeyed in and out of the caves.

Dave is looking at one called Lot’s Wife that resembled….. you guessed it a pillar of salt. 

We went hiking at Echo Point and ……….

hit the links at the Katoomba Golf Club. Although I was worried about the many signs that said DANGER-SNAKE HABITAT we saw nary a snake. 

In the Southern Highlands we stayed at the Chinoiserie Bed and Breakfast in Mittagong. Chinoiserie is a kind of furniture and art style that combines European and Chinese influences.  Dominic Wong one of the owners of Chinoiserie was from China and his partner Chris was British so a name that combined Chinese and European influences was appropriate. Chris and Dominic grew 79 kinds of peonies in their backyard garden and their home had been featured in all kinds of house and garden magazines. 

We went golfing in the Southern Highlands, visited a winery and the Cricket Hall of Fame. Dave poses here with a cricket player mannequin in a replica of an old cricket dressing room. Dave taught cricket in his physical  education classes in Hong Kong and went to watch matches as well. He got interested in cricket when we were in India and he saw young boys playing the sport everywhere often with sticks for bats and stones for balls.

 In Sydney we stayed in a bed and breakfast in the resort town of Manley Beach and took a ferry-boat into the city each day.
We visited the History Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art ……..
 We toured the Opera House.……..
We spent a delightful  evening with Shayli Patrick a former student of both of ours from the Steinbach Regional Secondary School who was working as a nanny in Australia

We went biking for a day ……..

 and visited the Taronga Zoo

We rented a car in Australia and Dave did a great job of driving on the ‘wrong side of the road.’  He’d had practice the Christmas before in New Zealand. 

Dave won’t be enjoying the book I got him for Christmas in this kind of setting in 2011. He’ll have to curl up on our couch under his favorite quilt instead.

Other posts about Australia…….

Animals of Australia

Edge of the Trees

Lessons From the Sydney Opera House

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Filed under australia, Holidays, Nature

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