Christmas Down Under
A blog post from Guest Blogger Sheila Fee, who is part of the Study and Go Abroad Team.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to go to Australia for Christmas. It was spectacular!
We left the cold dreary drizzle of Vancouver late in the evening. On the plane, we tucked in to the usual dinner and movie, deplaned in the middle of the night in Honolulu to look wistfully at the palm trees through the window, and then it was back on the plane for the next leg. We arrived in Sydney mid-morning and promptly went to the beach. My favorite way of avoiding jet lag is to get lots of light in my eyes and some exercise first thing. So we went to Maroubra Beach for a splash. Sydney has dozens of perfect beaches like this. A great way to see a half dozen is to walk the stunning and not strenuous Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk. The full walk is about two hours, but you could do a smaller part of it, and/or stop for a swim at any beach along the way. When you arrive at Bondi, you can have a coffee or cold drink at any one of the many cafés there, or just enjoy the scenery.
Christmas Day in Australia can be quite relaxing. All the slaving over a hot stove we do in Canada is unnecessary. It is mid-summer there and very warm, so Christmas dinner becomes Christmas lunch, and the menu is generally salads instead of heavy food. There is frequently a prawn cocktail to start – Australian prawns are huge and their seafood is magnificent, by the way. There may be a nod to the northern idea of turkey with a platter of cold roast chicken, but the rest of the meal is delicious and less work than Christmas in Canada.
Rather than food, the focus is more on vacation and sports at Christmas time in Australia. We were staying with family at The Entrance, two hours north of Sydney over Christmas week, and went snorkelling Christmas morning at Toowoon Bay and it was fantastic. And after Christmas lunch and the requisite nap (some traditions are the same everywhere!), we enjoyed an informal backyard cricket match.
After celebrating the season and resting up for a few days, we headed out on a road trip to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. On the four-wheel-drive bus tour, we were treated to stunning scenery with giant gum trees, pristine lakes, giant sand blows and awesome beaches. We stayed for only two days but would have loved to stay longer.
We headed back to Sydney, a two-day drive, enjoying time spent together and the views out the window of gentle green fields and the occasional kangaroo sighting.
Sydney is a wonderful city full of scenery, shopping, beaches, world-class restaurants, the most beautiful exotic birds I have ever seen, and pretty much anything you could wish to see or do on a summer vacation.