Tag Archives: Christmas

Sydney, Bondi Beach and hidden treasures..

Sydney has a population of about 4 million people, and nearly as many tourists in summer. Almost everyone is looking for a beach… and Bondi Beach is the most famous.

… the best kept secret is dawn on a summer’s day on Bondi Beach………the soft sky and pearl-coloured beach make this a magical time….and so few people see it..

I came to Australia, from Central Africa  when I was 19 years old, and very briefly spent some time in Bondi with my brother before I went to University to train to be a teacher…

In those days, the beach seemed wide and empty most of the time…

One of my brothers, Neil, has lived in the Bondi area all of his adult life. Walking along the beach and swimming in this lovely Icebergs pool is a routine he has continued into retirement.

He now walks and/or swims every day  with the same group he has known for years.  They have lived through all the ups and downs of life together, and, Neil says, can almost finish each others’ sentences.

(My Dad walked with a similar group in Port Macquarie, and they called themselves ”Dad’s Army”)

Neil and his lovely wife Jo very generously lend us their house during the Christmas period.  This means our two daughters, our son-in-law, and new granddaughter have a comfortable home in Sydney for Christmas, and we can visit Paul’s big exended family.

On Christmas morning we get a smoothie inside the Bondi Pavilion. The morning is warming up and the people are gathering in swimmers and Santa Hats…

Inside the Pavilion are some wonderful old photos of Bondi beach..

and it looks as if it was always popular and crowded with cars…today you need  a special permit to park here..

Paul always says Sydney has a special kind of blue sky, and here it is…

Good to see Sydney is using the sun for recycling… the small print on the rubbish bin says..” I use the sun to squash your rubbish and fit five times more in…'”

 

 

These days Bondi has suntanned locals, backpackers, European travellers escaping the winter, movie stars and celebrity chefs….Bill Granger’s restaurant in Bondi is lovely for coffee and cake.

Despite the mix, Bondi still has a kind of casual friendliness that I like…perhaps it is the combination of sun and space and colour….

The bougainvillea winds itself around garden fences as we walk back up the hill

 

Morning glory spills over the edge of the cliff and onto the footpaths that we walk on…

Our daughters look out for the Frangipani, and always remind me that my Mum used to make necklaces for them out of the flowers in their home, the equally beautiful Port Macquarie.

My neighbour often says she gets ”postcards”  (memories) from her mother…same here..

 

The sheer tenacity of some flowers blowing off the cliffs around Sydney is amazing..

Sea Hibiscus Hibiscus tiliaceus

This one has a mix of yellow and pink blossoms, and they all flower away, while weathering the blowing winds and storms that are felt in these exposed coastal parts of Sydney..

Even the beetles in Sydney are pretty cool…

Cotton Harlequin Beetle

and of course the cliffs around Bondi are a real delight..

… it is possible to walk along most of the coastline and enjoy the same views seen for centuries…without noticing the crowds in shops and on beaches…. don’t be fooled, Sydney has lots of hidden gems…

These cliffs deserve their own post, one day soon!

I hope you can visit Canberra’s Green Spaces for my next post, which is our visit to the exhibition of Pollination in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canberra, the bush capital, sun, storms, and season’s greetings

This  wonderful Sturt Desert Pea, from the desert of  Central Australia, seems to be singing..

‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas..

Canberra is nowhere near the desert in Central Australia, but the Sturt Desert Pea grows here in the Desert Garden of the Australian National Botanical Gardens.

 

Desert garden in the Australian National Botanic Gardens

Canberra usually becomes very hot, and dry-looking the closer we get to Christmas, but this year we’ve had unexpected rain, and the Brindabella Mountains stayed blue for a long time.

The development of the Arboretum in Canberra was very controversial at first….one hundred forests of trees from all over the world were planted.

This was an act of faith really because a ten year drought had not long ended. However, we have had regular rain since then, and despite the difficulties there may be, the Arboretum looks stunning now,  and is a great tourist attraction….

Not far from the south side of Canberra, (where I live) is Namadgi National Park…

These last couple of years, with abundant grasses and vegetation, there has been an explosion of babies in spring….

a young female Kangaroo with her joey

On the edge of Namadgi is  Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve…used by bushwalkers, and families alike, and it is a joy to see all the animals and birds around after a rainy day..

Kookaburra at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

 

baby koala Ghambi (meaning fire) and his mother..

I believe two new koala babies have been born since our visit…

…closer to home, one kindly gardener has planted red hot pokers, red geraniums, and blue agapanthus along the verge next to her house…it looks wonderful in the morning sunshine, and the red hot pokers are stunning against the white trunk of the Eucalypt tree.

I often walk along the backtracks (fire trails) with Paul and also with friends and neighbours..

Paul had just finished painting the deck  (luckily it was dry) when an unexpected hail storm occurred.

It only lasted about 15 minutes but caused some damage around the neighbourhood.

Luckily no damage for us, but most of the plants looked a bit bedraggled….. one minute it is 33 degrees Celsius and the next minute there are pieces of ice in pot plants!

 

These Liliums and the Gazanias get the prize for resilience….they began flowering again the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gazanias  must wonder what is going on here….one day a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is lopping its flowers, the next….pieces of ice are landing in the pot!

 

My favourite part of summer is sitting on the deck having breakfast, the sound of sprinklers and happy birds flying in and out of the water.

So much fresh stone fruit to add to our breakfast… the birds eat from our fruit trees and we buy ours from the markets…something seems wrong with that equation….but where would be we without them?

yes…its beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

This photo was taken last summer, we read papers online now!

The Good Food website has this variation on a Pavlova (an Australian/New Zealand favourite summer dessert) …and there is another one with honeycomb…they are worth looking at…

slablova …the perfect crowd friendly pavola..

Season’s greeting to everyone, and thank you for your company this year, I’ve enjoyed writing about Canberra’s Green Spaces, and travelling the world through blogs I read, and the people I’ve met.

…best wishes to you all, and may you have enough time to enjoy family and friends and green spaces (or snowy white spaces from the comfort of your warm fire..) where ever you are in the world.

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Spring time at the coast

December is such a hectic Christmas month, I’m taking a nostalgic look at our visit to the South Coast of New South Wales in spring

…a stroll along the beach early on a soft spring day

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plenty of time to take in the details……

patterns in the water…

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……..on the sand and the rocks

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and little worlds,  all going about their day

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Later, we had coffee looking out over the Narooma breakwater….

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then we walked along  the craggy path to the headlands… I wished I’d had this photo while I was still teaching..

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We watched seals sunbaking on the rocks at the headlands…..regardless of the waves crashing up against them…

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Turning back from the headlands, is Narooma with Gulaga (Mt Dromedary) in the background.

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I love the inlets around Narooma, so still and calm…I’d rather be a pelican than a seal any day!

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On the way home we passed a valley full of lilies…yet I have trouble growing one or two in Canberra..

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Here is a hedge surrounding the car park at the local supermarket, a master-stroke of design for a public place, hardy and useful for birds. Grevilleas are planted along the southern side.

 

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The wattle birds and parrots are feeding and chatting everywhere

 

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On the side of a busy road, this New Zealand Christmas bush was flowering in all its splendour

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We took a quiet back track through a small forest of spotted gum trees on our way home.

A curious Red-necked Pademelon, (related to a Wallaby) stood looking at us..It was so quiet he stayed for a while

….and made our day.

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When we arrived back at our friend’s house, (Gardener Extraordinaire), her neighbours had given her some kangaroo paws and bottlebrushes from the garden.

So much to see and do on a spring day at the coast!

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All photos copyright to Gerrie Mackey