Monday, 21 January 2013

Week 13 – Christmas in Sydney, Australia

Fred's world tour

Week 13 – Christmas in Sydney, Australia

22nd until the 28th of December 2012

In brief:

  1. Feed cute little possums in a wildlife animal rescue centre.

  2. Shop for Christmas presents while listening to carols in the mall on a 32oC sunny day!

  3. Experience my first Aussie summer Christmas.

  4. Watch the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

  5. Make the most of the sales and go expedition gear shopping for Borneo.

  6. Attempt to burn all the Christmas junk that I consumed.

  7. Watch Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman sing their way through Les Miserables.

My visit to Canberra last week was great and I could have stayed longer. However, I made a promise to help out with feeding some possums at the animal rescue centre with Daithi. So after a long morning 12km run I went around the local neighbourhoods with Daithi cutting a few branches off trees and sticking them in the boot for the possums. Daithi is part of WIRES which is a charitable network of carers to rescue and support injured wildlife . They take it in turns to feed the animals at the rescue centre and also take care of an injured animal in their own homes. For example a bird injured by a dog or a cat would be picked up by a volunteer and nursed to good health until it can be released. Daithi had recently acquired a tiny chick bird after a dog found the nest. Daithi has had to feed it through a pipette every 40mins luckily he's already on holiday. With a boot full of branches and an ice-cream container made into a makeshift nest off we went to the rescue centre. We changed the possum's water, chopped up some fruit and put in the new branches for them.


There was also an aviary with three baby kookaburras who were simply beautiful and make the most unusual calling sound:


After feeding the possums we went to where the bird Daithi is caring for was found. Daihi explained that sometimes if you go back to where the chick was found within 4days the parents would still be around and may 'take it back'. After an hour of trying there was no joy so back home we went. Later that week the chick started to refuse feeds and gently passed away. From the way he was moving around the box it looked like the dog had broken its leg and severely damaged its wing so it might have not survived long anyway. Daithi gave it the best chance.

With the run up to Christmas we went out to dinner with some of my hosts' friends and I did some Christmas shopping for the Kris Kringle we were having at the house on the 25th. It had a 10 dollar maximum and we had to get three gifts each. On Christmas day itself my hosts went to a family lunch but then would return in the evening. That left me to go for a run to Bondi beach, get a picture with the beach Christmas tree and talk to the volunteer lifeguards working on Christmas day. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day but that didn't detract from anything. There was even a cute infant dressed in a Santa costume at the base of the tree on the beach!


After a small lunch I was keen to go for a Christmas swim on Bondi beach as I heard that normally there would be thousands of people on the beach in their swimwear and Santa hats. Unfortunately after the cloudy skies of the morning came a thunderstorm bringing with it lots of rain and lightning. Halfway to the beach I decided to turn back as it seemed to be getting worse. Oh well. So much for that Christmas day swim! That evening was great. I did miss being with my family as this was the first time in my whole life that I was without them on Christmas day. My hosts made me feel part of their family and I had a great day regardless. The food was impeccable, the conversations entertaining and the presents comical. What more could one want in Australia?... well, a sunny day would've been nice too. Despite the rain I still got to cook some ‘shrimp on the barby’ on Christmas day!


Boxing day was completely different in terms of weather. The sun was out, the breeze was gently blowing and it all made for the perfect day to go out and watch the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. This is a race that happens every year starting on boxing day in Sydney and arrives into Hobart, Tazmania a few days later. Its 1,170km long trip and the record is 1day, 18hours and 23min set by Wild oats XI. Wild oats is evidentially the biggest and faster craft but there are plenty of smaller ones that take up to 7days to get there. I go to the south head of Watsons Bay about 1hour before race time. The walk towards the very tip was beautiful with the clean sandy beaches of Watsons bay and camp cove having the striking Sydney down-town skyline as a backdrop. Once at the tip I managed to get a great spot with view of all the boats 'warming up' near the start line.


At 12am the starting gun went off and the boats tacked across the start line. Soon the colourful jibs were up and flying. The chaotic swarm of spectator boats were following the action from outside the designated raceboat channel which simply added to this seaborne spectacle. This race is not only world famous for its long distance and technical difficulty but for the armada of boats of all sizes that take to the seas on this one day a year. Truly impressive.


With no hope of getting a bus away from the south head I laid on the fortress wall and relaxed watching the boats get smaller and smaller as they got further away. I then made my way along the coastal path south towards Bondi. The path here is on the top of the beautiful high cliffs. I does have multiple information boards giving counselling advice and phone numbers for those that feel they want to commit suicide. Unfortunately this area is know for this. There are messages written on the rock with words such as 'goodbye' and 'sorry' from people that have previously jumped off!


I then managed to catch a bus back. Nothing could be nicer on Boxing day than eating left over Christmas food and enjoying a good film. The next few days of this week I spent trying to not eat more chocolate and failing miserably. I also went shopping for Borneo expedition gear in the January Sales and I attempted to compensate for the overeating by going to the gym or running. I also met up with my new friend Mark for food and go see 'Les Miserables' film with my buddy Simon. Watching Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman sing their way through a film and being in a cinema where 80% of the people cried was quite the experience! :-)

Once again a brilliant week that just flew by. Next week I go see the Freemasons DJs group, visit the Sydney Olympic park, see my first ever 20/20 cricket game, attempt to watch the Sydney harbour fireworks from a good spot and visit the town of Wollongong.

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