Happy New Year!!  We’re just back from our extended roam around Australia; an amazing, amazing trip to visit family and experience a totally new-to-us continent. Here’s a few highlights if you’d like to see…

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Sydney Opera House, shot in morning sunlight from the Manly Ferry as we swung into Circular Quay

We began with a few days in Sydney, staying with my brother and his family near Manly on the North Shore. We spent the evenings together and the days exploring the city and surrounding area, using ferries and hop-on-and-off buses to navigate our way around the beautiful waterside city and neighbourhoods.

Then a brief road trip out to Port Stephens on the NSW coast for endless beaches, nature and more relaxation.  We tried our hands at sand-dune surfing; a surreal cross between sledging and surfing on the startlingly high and beautiful dunes that lie along the coastline…

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Here’s a tip; don’t apply lip balm and sunscreen when there is a light breeze and you are surfing a sand dune; it creates an entirely adhesive surface and you will spend 90 minutes in the shower later having an unplanned full body exfoliation as you attempt to remove the excess.

After Christmas back in Sydney we flew out to Hamilton Island (aka Paradise on earth), which lies close to the Great Barrier Reef.  This was the view from our hotel room, and sums up how utterly stunning the island was…

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We swam seemingly all day, every day, meeting all manner of exotic fish and shells in the water, trying our hands at sea kayaking and paddle-boarding before collapsing for a rest.  One night, we came back to the beach to watch the sunset with a bottle of wine and bag of fish and chips (locally caught barramundi; somewhat more exotic than the cod and chips of home!).

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And then of course, the Reef itself; we snorkelled, swam and then – most amazing of all in some ways – took a brief helicopter ride over the reef to see it from the air.  Awe-inspiringly beautiful…

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And then one final excursion out to the Blue Mountains; a two-hour drive from Sydney and a welcome drop of temperature; a world apart from the beaches and water of Cairns and seemingly another land entirely.  So-named because of the haze exuded by the eucalyptus trees which fill the mountainsides, they really are mesmerising and every shade of blue, grey and green you could mix in a palette…

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And finally, I can’t not mention the wildlife and animals we saw throughout our time there.  From the wild cockatoos that tried at every opportunity to steal our chips, wander through any open door or examine the contents of a brightly coloured handbag, to the crocs and koalas and kangaroos we encountered at nature parks and reservations.  All of them amazing, and all seemingly natural pros in front of the camera…

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Hand-feeding baby kangaroos, albeit not as quickly as they’d have liked.

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Say cheese!

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Curious and sociable fish that swam alongside us when snorkelling

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The one that viewed us as a light lunch option

And now we’re back; back to England and down to earth in every sense, wrestling jet-lag and a 40c temperature change (the shock!).  Harry is the most resilient of us all, bouncy and seemingly immune to the cold.  Not quite immune to the timezone shift, however; ‘Mummy!’ he whispered into my ear in the wee small hours of today; ‘The clock in my bedroom says 03.28am! Shall we get up?’.

No.  No, let’s not.

A return to posting new creative projects later this week after a delicious and inspiring break; I hope that your break too was a wonderful one, whether big or small.

Have a great weekend!

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