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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Oz: Surreal Christmas Down Under

Silly Santa storefront window Laurieton New South Wales Australia
Santa looks a little different here in Oz.  Storefront window in Laurieton, New South Wales, Australia.
Here in Australia this holiday season there's the surreal sense we're existing in an alternate universe.... 

All manner of colorful cackling parroty birds (giving me the sense there's been a massive pet shop escape) reign free.  

Gum trees are not the rare province of farm borders or the odd stretch of monarch-flocked coastline, their massive elongated trunks and comparatively sparse foliate seem reminiscent of Salvador Dali's clock.  Their invigorating sharper-than-pine scent floats by, mingling with the fruity-sweet perfume of frangipani, gardenia and jasmine.

Santas still wander about with luxuriant white beards (mostly in retail-land) and white-trimmed red felt hats, though are as likely to be depicted in sunglasses carrying a surf board and a tinny (that's a beer, here).  

Instead of bells, cicadas metallic rattling mating call and all manner of new-to-me birdsong provides the soundscape.  Kookabarras do indeed appear to cackle with laughter.  
      
Alternative Christmas decor in Oz
Instead of a Christmas tree, strung with lights, we enjoyed seaweed with snails for our holiday decor today in Australia.

With no friends* or family nearby, and home -- "the other" Vancouver (Washington State, USA, across the river from Portland OR) cloaked in snow most of the past two weeks, we decided to hit Birdies, the no tan lines beach here in the land of Oz, where December is mid-summer.

*Our cruising friends here in Oz mostly headed to Sydney before us -- we're heading there for New Year's eve.

We wanted to catch a movie, another Christmas tradition for us, but here in Australia that's not an option.  It is on "Boxing Day" -- December 26th.  We'd do that tomorrow.

Birdie Beach New South Wales, beautiful palette of gold, turquoise, sienna and beige
Christmas day at Birdie Beach, New South Wales, near Sydney, Australia.

After the beach, we planned on another Christmas tradition -- eating out in a Chinese restaurant -- about all that's normally open (in the USA) on Christmas.  Not here though. We spent about an hour driving around hunting for an open Chinese -- or any - restaurant.  

We opted out of a non-gluten free "death disk" from Dominoes.  

We also passed up the gas station convenience store fare.... 

Finally, we stopped at a Oporto in Dee Why  -- a surprisingly good Portuguese fast food franchise.  We ate chili grilled chicken with spicy rice, roasted corn and salsa.  That and a soda only set us back $33 AUD (around $24 USD) with enough leftovers for another meal for two.  We rarely eat out, but I'd definitely go for Oporto again! 

That's how we spend our not incredibly exciting, but pleasantly different Christmas Day here in the land of Oz.


Wishing you
a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah
or whatever you celebrate
this holiday season - 
however you spend it!



Our neighbors in Pittwater, Christmas Day, after their morning swim.
Location Location
We're in Pittwater, New South Wales, Australia (S33.39.433 E151.18.051), an hour's drive and four hour's sail from Sydney -- or so we're told.

Cruising By the Numbers
  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia, 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu, 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji, 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.
Up Next

We'll spend a few weeks here in Pittwater, near Sydney, for pre-sale boat work.  We plan escape briefly to see New Year's Eve fireworks from Sydney Harbour.  We've also got our eye on a used van, converted for camping, to explore Australia.  There will continue to be catch-up posts, streamlining of the blog, short video clips to add, and road trip posts.