Tuggerah Lake yachting

Tuggerah Lake yachting

Patricia Newell-Dunkley Photographs Reginald J. Dunkley

Website: www.patriciasartworld.com

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Greetings from down under where winter has finally arrived, cold days and at last some glorious rain.  Unfortunately it has not been enough to completely break the outback drought but sufficient to start vegetation.

Most Aussies do not like the winter and hurriedly travel north to Queensland or the Northern Territories for some warmth, while others prefer to cruise the islands. Cruising is by far the most popular form of travelling, mini cruises are the way to go for a quick dose of relaxation, four days or a week is a great pick-me-up.

A seven day cruise to the Great Barrier Reef is the perfect holiday voyage, exploring the remote and tropical side of Australia while relaxing on board a beautiful ship and being waited on is perfection.

The Great Barrier Reef is formed of thousands of reefs and over nine hundred islands. With warm sunny days, white sand beaches, tropical forests and beautiful fringing reefs, there is much to see and participate in.

Shelly Beach surfer

Shelly Beach surfer

Famous for its wildlife the Great Barrier Reef has it all both above and below the water.  Lush forests are home to many and varied breeds of birds. Huge fish catching Osprey fill the skies and small brightly coloured sunbirds can also be spotted. Sea turtles are a common sight around the beaches and swimming past boats, and there is plenty of snorkelling or diving among the coral life with much marine life to enjoy.

The largest island in the Great Barrier Reef is Hinchinbrook renown for its stunning waterfalls and thickset forests. Thorsborne nature trail is a must to take through the island and home to masses of wildlife including the giant tree frog.  The Mangrove swamps are alive with saltwater crocodiles and dugongs all protected species.

Dunk Island has long white sandy beaches, hiking trails, beautiful Mount Kootaloo with fantastic views from the peak, colourful reef fish and plenty of turtles.

Nathan Reef is a very bright and vibrant coral reef mostly in the Cairns section and is very popular for bird watching. The clear calm water is ideal for swimming among the many parrotfish.

Ribbon Reefs are just that, long thin strips of reef right to the edge of the Great Barrier Reef and being shallow it is easy to see the marine life from a platform and underwater observatory.

Bird Kookaburra feeding

Bird Kookaburra feeding

Thetford Reef is also shallow and perfect for a cruise with a glass bottomed hull to see nature at its best.

The perfect time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is between June and October, with cool and dry weather and plenty of sunshine. For whale watchers migrating minke whales are seen in June and July.

Kangaroo Island is a wildlife sanctuary and just 15 kilometres off South Australia’s mainland. This exquisite island is a different world and miles away from every day life. The sanctuary has no fences and you can wander among sea lions, kangaroos, and at dusk see the shy platypus.  Lovers of fresh organic food this is the place for you, with luscious local honey, freshly caught sea food and glorious cheese made from sheep’s milk.

Moreton Island ranks as the third largest sand island in the world, and is a 4 day cruise from Sydney and a 3day cruise from Brisbane.  This is a very popular island to visit and is a protected national park with a wealth of marine life and natural ecology. Having no sealed roads makes it an adventure with a feeling of freedom. There is much to see and do including up close and personal with the dolphins, which is an absolute must and for some the main reason to visit the island.

Short cruises from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide are extremely popular and a chance to escape for a weekend or five days and an opportunity to sample life at sea.

Personally I have done a lot of cruising including a glorious voyage to U.K. travelling first class and experiencing a holiday of a lifetime.

Here at Shelly Beach all is well with the surfers wrapped in their wet suits still braving the waves rain or shine, the cold weather does not worry them.

Today I had two elegant kookaburras sitting on the garden wall telling me to hurry with the breakfast; their beautiful carolling is a joy to hear. The garden is full of hungry birds and I have had to double their rations, sadly my beautiful black Brush Turkey seems to have disappeared but I’m sure she will fly back soon.  Princess Pixie the Pomeranian is also eating more in the cold weather and so am I!

My books ‘The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain, Letters of a Travelling Lady, Wallis the Woman I Love,” are available on Amazon, Xlibris and Crowood Pulishers.

Cheers.  Patricia.