Shelly Beach Snippets ~ Snow, Fairy Penguins, Whales and High Tea
Hello again from down under as we plough through the middle of winter, with the joys of many snowfields of Victoria, New South
Wales, and Tasmania to play with. From June to October this is the time for skiing, snow- boarding, snow tubing and toboggan rides being the order of the day. With all of the States having massive snowfalls and presenting fantastic ski-ing conditions, winter wonderland has arrived. In Tasmania Ben Lomond National Park is the premier ski resort with spectacular alpine scenery, while Mount Mawson is a little quieter but with all of the facilities required. N.S.W. is home to the highest mountain in Australia Mount Kosciusko, with Charlotte Pass being the highest ski resort and reached by over snow transport. With 230km of groomed trails and easy access through the ski tube train we are spoilt for choice. Victorian snowfields and villages are family friendly; toddlers can learn to ski not so long after taking their first steps. All resorts offer spas and saunas, fabulous restaurants, glorious sunsets, and wonderful starry, starry nights.
Recently sighted in Sydney making a daily trek from Manly to Darling Point, and Rushcutters Bay to sample local delicacies, were the ‘Fairy Penguin’, now known as the ‘Little Penguin’ with regard to the ‘Fairy World’. These delightful sea-fowl, pretty to look at with a slate blue type colour and white chest, waddle around in small groups. Being great swimmers they dive and catch small fish and other ocean creatures for survival. The ‘Little Penguin’ is a great tourist attraction in Australia where admirers watch colonies of these amazing creatures along the Southern Coast. In reality they are seabirds but cannot fly, trading their wings in for flippers 65 million years ago. They are the smallest penguin in the world with an average height of 30cm. For those that wish to experience a meeting with the ‘Little Penguin’, they can be found on Phillip Island Victoria, at Summerland Beach which is known as Penguin Parade. Penguin Island in Western Australia which has the largest colony, and Kangaroo Island in South Australia. They also appear at Little Penguin in Tasmania, where they can be discovered almost anywhere around the coastline. Watching Little Penguins waddle across the beach at sunset to their sand dune burrows is a treat never forgotten.
Australians’ fascination with whales has no bounds, as was shown when a calf humpback whale was recently beached at Palm Beach in Queensland. The Seaworld Crew were quickly on the scene, attaching a harness beneath him and a boat waiting offshore to gently tow it out to deeper waters. However, it was to take 36 hours before the rescue was finalised, and during that time hundreds of onlookers were there to give aid or support the efforts of Seaworld. When success was finally achieved, loud cheers could be heard ringing around the country as viewers watched the whale flap his tail and soar away. Meanwhile excitement mounted when a Southern Right Whale gave birth in
Sydney harbour. The mother and newborn baby whale about five metres long, stayed for a few days using the harbour as a safe haven while the calf became accustomed to the water and got its “sea-legs”. They were seen together gently tenderly playing and bonding before moving on. Only a few Southern Right Whales are born each year in N.S.W. waters so to have a birth in Sydney Harbour was unexpected and very special.
Continuing our tour of “The Rocks” Sydney Observatory occupies a beautiful heritage-listed sandstone building in the heart of The Rocks. Situated on a hill formerly known as Flagstaff Hill and built in 1858, it is now a working museum where visitors can observe the stars and planets. Stargazing is a popular pastime as is naming a star, which is a unique gift for a loved one. Every day at exactly 1.00pm a time ball is dropped to signal the correct time to the city, the first time ball was dropped on the 5th June 1858 and has continued ever since. Observatory Hill Park offers sweeping, panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge and is an extremely popular location for outdoor weddings, picnics, or generally enjoying the view. You can reach the park by the Agar Steps, at Miller’s Point named after John Leighton a convict who arrived in 1804, and in 1814 bought several acres of land and erected his three Windmills. It can also be gained through Cumberland Street, via a cutting in the Harbour Bridge, and a pedestrian Bridge from the city. This area is full of charming old houses, Old Warehouses, Pubs ‘The Hero of Waterloo’, and a special treat are the heritage-listed Moreton Bay Fig Trees dotted about which afford shade in the hot summer. The Observatory and Park is well worth a visit. On our next tour I will take you to Australia’s oldest street, George Street, where much fascinating history abounds.
Christmas in July is well under way with parties and functions’ celebrating around the country, even Santa Claus appears and Yo Ho Ho’s his merry way round. July is a great time for the truly traditional Christmas Dinner with hot roasts and steamed puddings, much to the delight of the many Clubs and Restaurants and a special occasion for the ladies. A Christmas ‘High Tea’ isserved on Sydney Harbour Cruises with Yuletide treats and pink bubbles — this is the way to go! At Shelly Beach the garden has been very busy with carpets of hungry lorikeets arriving early in the morning. So imagine my surprise when this glorious bird appeared in their midst, I have only had it visit once before on his way to somewhere, and once on his way back months later. I think he is a Nightjar, but I stand corrected. Isn’t he just beautiful!