First Australian Christmas

It was Christmas Eve, but it really didn't seem like it, warm, sunny, we were in shorts and t-shirts, it just wasn't right! Still we were gonna have a good time, I'd got my Christmas sock stuffed with pressies (that's not a euphamism, the Tudorlies had sent me a Christmas sock and some pressies to put in it!), we were packed and ready to go when Nads arrived after finishing work in the arvo.

I drove up to James & Nads house, the first time I had driven over the Harbour Bridge, which was cool, and we stopped at a drive-thru bottle-o to pick up some beer and wine.

James had been shopping that morning for food for Christmas Day, he could have opened a butchers and fishmongers with the amount of stuff he had got, we were definitely gonna be 'chucking another shrimp on the barbie' in the morning :)

Christmas morning was warm, but overcast, but that didn't matter. The presents were under the tree (not exactly a Christmas tree, but it was a fine stand-in) and Santa had been and emptied his sack...

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="The Christmas tree at Chez Scott-Dixon"][/caption]

Oh, the geetar is mine, I have bought Rock Band for the PS3 and now have a guitar, drum kit, and mic, to start my band with.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Me and my sock"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="James and his new remote controlled plane"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Fish and his pressies"]Fish and his pressies[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Present opening"][/caption]

After a present opening frenzy we got the car packed with the bbq stuff and headed out towards the beach. The plan was to have a bbq 'next to' the beach up at Mona Vale, as they have public bbq facilities there, however, when we got there the public bbq had been commandeered by a large family, who looked like they had no intention of moving or letting anyone else get a go on the burners, so we had to turn to Plan B. Which was, try every open servo on Pittwater Road to see if they had any disposable bbqs that we could take to Warriewood beach. We finally ended up executing Plan C, back to James & Nads, bbq in their back garden and then walk up to Warriewood beach in the arvo. This turned out to be a good plan, as it didn't involve leaving a car and other stuff in a carpark overnight, and it made things easier in the long run.

So we bbq'd shrimps for Christmas dinner, and they were fantastic. (And by 'we', I of course mean James :)

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Bubbly on Christmas Day"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Chucking another shrimp on the bbq, episode 2"][/caption]

The weather picked up a bit in the arvo, the sun came out and we had a walk up the hill to the beach, which, for some reason, didn't seem as torturous as the last time I did it... strange, i guess it could have been the beer.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Christmas Day on the beach... ace!"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Fish and his christmas cracker hat"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Fish where he belongs... in the sea"][/caption]

So all in all, a great day, and I for one really enjoyed my first Aussie Christmas.

The run up to Christmas

The Sunday arvo we got back from the Blue Mountains and the wildlife park saw us back in the city and down the pub. We were only going for 'one or two' but it seems like it ended with a bit of a session :)

We had dinner in the Lowenbrau, I knew it would be a good choice cos Fish goes to the Munich Oktoberfest every year :)

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Fish and his Lowenbrau"]Fish and his Lowenbrau[/caption]

We ended the night going through the cocktail list at Cruise Bar, I think I won the "get the gayest cocktail" award for the evening:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="My cocktail"][/caption]

Fish couldn't come to Sydney without a visit to Doyles on the Beach at Watsons Bay, so Fish, Ann and I headed over there for lunch on the Monday, it was a lovely day, nice and sunny. Both Fish and I were nursing hangovers, but a couple of glasses of wine, homemade fish cakes, and yellowfin tuna steak sorted me right out!

We were planning on heading to Bondi for the afternoon, but as Fish hadn't got his camera we headed back to the apartment first, and then ended up not leaving, we cracked open a bottle of wine we had brought back from the Hunter, and proceeded to waste 2 hours of Ann's life by watching Transformers on Blu-Ray. I love that movie, as does Fish, but it definitely wasn't Ann's "cup of tea"... hehe

The next morning we headed over to Manly on the ferry, Fish had a surfing lesson booked in the morning. It was cloudy that morning but still quite warm. Once Fish had donned his wetsuit and made his surf board choice we headed out to where there were a lot of people in the ocean practicing, and the guy called over a surfer dude to give Fish his lesson.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Fish about to start his surfing lesson"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Fish "standing up" on his surf board"][/caption]

I have to be honest it did look like he was starting to get the hang of it by the end of the lesson... and it turned out the surfer dude was from Jersey in the Channel Islands, lol

To finish the day off we went to watch The Dark Knight at the IMAX cinema at Darling Harbour, having seen it already I knew what to expect but it was still amazing, and I think that Fish was suitably impressed.

I've been a bit slack...

In posting over the last few weeks, but it's been busy here with Fish over, we've been doing all sorts of stuff. So now I have some time I'll upload the photos and post a few posts about what we've been up to and how fantastic my first Australian Christmas and New Year has been!

Blue Mountains

Picked up the car on the Thursday from the local Avis rental place, wasn't too bad getting it back to the apartment building, but I did mess up and take the wrong turning, no dramas though :)

So Friday we packed up, left the car park and started heading west out of the city, that is until I realised I had left my camera in the apartment and so we had to turn around and go back. We'd just got through the busy city streets and onto the great western highway too, so we ended up navigating them 3 times just to get back and out again.

Once out of the city the drive was pretty easy, found Katoomba and Echo Point (where we were staying) really easily. So we were in the Blue Mountains, staying within easy walking distance of the 3 Sisters, there was a BBQ in the garden... we needed beer and meat, oh, and shrimps, at least 4 of, so that we could each "chuck another shrimp on the bbq". Here's the evidence:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Fish chucking another shrimp on the bbq"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Me chucking another shrimp on the bbq"][/caption]

Saturday was a day of walking and climbing steps (Drill Sgt Sadler would have been proud!), we went down to Echo Point lookout and had a look at the 3 Sisters, then walked down the path to the Giants Stairway and walked/climbed some of that, just to get to the first of the 3 sisters, that was enough of the stairs for me :P

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Echo Point Lookout"][/caption]

After my recovery from that little jaunt, we walked along one of the walking routes to Katoomba Falls where the skyway across to Scenic World is. The sun was hitting the falls just right so that from where we were standing you could see a rainbow in the spray.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Katoomba Falls with rainbow"]Katoomba Falls with rainbow[/caption]

We took the skyway across to Scenic World, the skyway car has a glass bottom so you can see straight down into the valley:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Skyway glass floor and Fish's feet"][/caption]

Next we took the steepest railway in Australia down to the boardwalk, in the bottom of the valley. There's a lot of stuff about coal mining here, abandoned mines, abandoned equipment etc.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Steepest Railway going back up the steep hill"]Steepest Railway going back up the steep hill[/caption]

Finally back up on the steepest cable car in Australia, and across the skyway again, and walked back to Echo Point where we picked up the car. We headed out to Evans Lookout which looks out onto a different valley.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Evans Lookout Panorama"][/caption]

Then we drove up the M4 when went down into the valley at Mt Victoria, through Hartley in the valley and back up the other side to Lithgow, then turned around and headed back again.

Sunday saw us heading back into Sydney, but we stopped off at Featherdale Wildlife Park on the way. Plenty of native Australian animals, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats etc. Many of them were free to roam around and seemed to like eating icecream cones.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Fish feeding a kangaroo"]Fish feeding a kangaroo[/caption]

Click on the picture for more of the other animals there.

Hunter Valley

After a bit of a dodgy start, not being booked on the tour that we had booked and had a confirmation for, the tour place managed to get us on a tour with boutique wine tours, and then we were off on a full minibus to sample a few wines.

The first winery of the day was Iron Gate, owned by some rich bloke from Kent, and we sampled quite a few different wines there. Had to buy a bottle of the one that the guy recommended went with curry :)

Next was the Audrey Wilkinson Winery, which had fantastic views of the valley, heres a panorama I stitched together from photos on my iPhone:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="View from Audrey Wilkinson winery"][/caption]

The guy who ran the tasting seemed to know what he was talking about, and we got to try quite a few wines, mostly 2 at once of different vintages or styles so we could easily compare. I picked up a bottle of a sparkling red that was really nice.

By now it was time for lunch, which was in a cafe place near the McGuigans winery, after a quick lunch Fish and I had a quick look in the chocolate shop, no chilli chocolate this time Dan, the cheese shop, a nice blue goats cheese and marinated feta found its way into my bag, and then we walked down to the Tempus Two winery and sampled a few of their reds, one of which Fish bought (and we have already drunk now).

The final winery of the day was Pepper Tree Winery, and then an hour or two back into the city.

Good day out, and we went to winerys that I hadn't been to before (not that that would be difficult as there are over 140 of them), and we didn't go mental like Dan and I did last year and buy cases of wine. Although I do have the online orderforms for the ones I did like :)

Sydney Touristing

Yesterday Fish and I did some touristing around Sydney, we caught the ferry from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour (so Fish can cross off 'boat trip' from his list of things he wants to do ;) and got some lunch at a restaurant on the Pyrmont side of Cockle Bay Wharf.

Then we spent the arvo going round the aquarium and the wildlife world, which were pretty good. I have been to the aquarium before but it was ages ago, and when I went the wildlife world wasn't built, so it was quite good to go around that. There are plenty of native animals to see, they have koalas, kangaroos, crocs, and all the creepy crawlies, spiders, snakes, frogs etc, in fact every animal in there is the most dangerous in the world. People think that koalas are cute and cuddly, but it's all an act, they will slash your throat with their razor sharp claws given the opportunity.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Koala, on the lookout for his next victim"]Koala, on the lookout for his next victim[/caption]

We ended the day with a few games of pool in Jacksons, as it's free pool on a monday night. :)

This arvo it's Fish's bridge climb, which is why I have had chance to update the blog, as I have a break in the touristing. Tomorrow we're off to the Hunter Valley for some serious wine tasting, so expect the next post in a few days once we've sobered up!

A weekend at Nelson Bay

We headed up to Nelson Bay on Friday morning, in the pouring rain... :(

Got there just after lunch time, in the pouring rain...

Sat in the cabin with a few beers, watching tv, waiting for the pouring rain to stop...

Fish seemed to have managed to fit quite a lot of the British weather in his suitcase, there's probably only enough room left for his mankini. We were staying in a cabin in Shoal Bay, and we basically just had to cross a road and then we were on the beach. By evening it has pretty much stopped raining, but was blowing a gale instead, as we ventured out to find the pub for a pre-dinner beer. We had booked a table at a restaurant called 'The Catch', as you can guess it was a seafood restaurant and it was fantastic, soft-shelled crab to start and kingfish for a main, both of which were great.

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny... haha not really, it was overcast and rainy again, but the weather forecast was for 34 degrees and windy, which it didn't seem to be, usually the weather forecasts are pretty good here. By the time we ventured out it had stopped raining and was starting to warm up, yay! After a trip round the shops in Salamander Bay, where we picked up some bait, we drove down to Fingal Bay and sat on the rocks for a couple of hours with the fishing rods. James caught something that looked like an eel, and it seemed to be very annoyed at being yanked out of the sea, it quickly got put back in again.

Back to the cabin for a vegemite sarnie for lunch, then straight over to the beach for some beach fishing. By this time it was really warm, and quite humid, I guess from all the rain evaporating, and the sun was coming out, at last! After 30 mins or so of not catching anything we gave up the fishing as a bad job, and went swimming instead, as it was really hot now and lovely and sunny. I had to wait for the whale watching boat that had anchored off the shore to leave before I got in, just so they wouldn't get to see a whale that day :) The water wasn't particularly warm, but it was nice to cool off, and it was the first time I've been swimming in the sea in Australia! Great fun!

Sunday morning started nice and sunny, if a bit windy, but it was much better than it raining. We took a walk up one of the hills at the heads of the bay, which was about 100 and something meters high, and once I had made it to the top and caught my breath back the view was worth it.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Nelson Bay"]Nelson Bay[/caption]

On our way back into Sydney we stopped for lunch at Anna Bay, which is at the top of the sand dunes of Stockton Beach. These dunes are the largest continuous mobile sand mass in New South Wales, and at 32km long, it's a pretty impressive sight.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Anna Bay"]Anna Bay[/caption]

All in all, a great weekend, and the weather turned out nice, eventually :)

The fish has landed!

Fish arrived last Thursday morning, and I went to meet him at the airport after his 33 hour round the world trip on a number of Air Canada airplanes. Once back at the flat with the tour out of the way we got straight into the sightseeing and wandering round Sydney... in the rain! It seemed that Martyn had brought the lovely British weather with him as it was cloudy, rainy and pretty cold on Thursday. We did have a wander around the shops on Pitt & George Streets and had lunch at the Opera Bar, and a wander around the outside of the Opera House.

And in other news... we were in Myer buying some chrimble wrapping paper and who should be there promoting her new perfume, but none other than Kylie! So we had to wait around till she came on stage, hehe, Fish has only been in Australia less than a day and he's already seen Kylie! And she is really small :)

We went up to the northern beaches with James & Nads that evening and stayed at their place, with James cooking a great BBQ for tea. We were really packing in the Aussieness into Fish's first day :)

Which then leads me onto my next post about Nelson Bay...

Virtual Tour

So I spent a few hours this morning walking around where I live taking photos, after I was given a list of things last night by the relos that they wanted me to take photos of.

Here's the list:

Nearest pub

front door

the building concierge

zebra crossing

restaurant nearest

White cabs


Botanical Gradens with washing line

Nearest chippy




Harold Bishop

Ramsey street

Fish number 2

Level 80


croc dundee

big harry's - Harry's Cafe de Wheels

I've managed to cover about the first 9 so far... the others I'll get to later :)

So here goes...

As I left the building I turned north and headed passed the Opera Bar, on up to the Opera House, and then into the botanical gardens as there is an entrance gate right next to it. Unfortunately all my washing was dry so I didn't need to hang anything out. (To explain, as I don't have a garden in my apartment the nearest bit of grass is the botanical gardens... and I was asked where I hang my washing out to dry if I don't have any garden)

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="View from outside the building"]View from outside the building[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Walking north to the Opera House"][/caption]

The nearest bar is probably in the customs house, not been there but it is just outside.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Nearest Bar - Customs House"][/caption]

Nearest restaurant is in my building, there is an indian restaurant and a chinese!

I walked around Farm Cove and almost into Woolloomooloo before heading back to Circular Quay and towards the Harbour Bridge.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="At the entrance to the Botanical Gardens"][/caption]

I went along the Circular Quay ferry wharves, and passed the Overseas Passenger Terminal where the massive cruise liners dock. At the end nearest my building is the Cruise Bar, which is a pretty good bar, and at the other end is Peter Doyles fish restaurant, and then around Campbells Cove and under the bridge, and there are some photos from the other side, just to prove it Dad!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Bridge from the west side"][/caption]

Once under the bridge it was up a heap of steps and into Dawes Point Park, and back onto George Street, which is one of the main streets of the CBD, then along Bridge Street, across Pitt Street (another main shopping street in the CBD) and finally left into Phillip Street and back to my building.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="The building from further up Phillip Street"][/caption]

Click on each of the pictures to go to the Flickr site and more of the same :)

I hope you enjoyed the trip around a little bit of Sydney.

Live via satellite...

Last night I had a video call with the whole family, they were all visiting Christy and Dave for the weekend and as Dave had recently got skype working on his laptop we thought it would be good to have a chat. So it was a bit like university challenge, me on one side and them all sat in a row in C&D's living room. Which did make things a little tricky to hear what people were saying, because to get most of them in the video the laptop had to be quite far away.

It was good to see everyone, and it sounded like they had been having a good time with an olympic session on the Wii, which Charlotte and Nick won. (I was told to mention this fact!) I also got to see Aunty Julie's scar and over 600 gall stones that she has had removed!

It ended up being a bit like the spanish inquisition with everyone asking questions about Australia (yes there are cars and electricity here!), and I have been set a mission to go and take photos of the area around my apartment building, so that they can see what it's like, and I have a list of things that they want a photo of. Some of which I can sort out right away, others will take a bit longer, and there are some that just aren't gonna happen... if you want to see Harold Bishop, just watch Neighbours on TV.

So, I hope they all enjoyed the rest of the weekend and had a safe trip back home, and I'm off now for some breakfast and to get out the camera!