Bird Currawong Close up

Bird Currawong Close up

Patricia Newell-Dunkley Photographs by Reginald J. Dunkley.

Greetings from down under where The Chocolate Festival is on once again and filled with more chocolaty goodness than ever before, with major event partner Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. The Smooth Festival of Chocolate will transform The Rocks into a chocolate oasis. Two days of decadent desserts from Australia’s best chefs. It is a celebration of sweet, indulgent desserts, where boutique Chocolatiers, Pastry Chefs, and Ice Cream Makers come together to tempt with their creations.

This event takes place at many locations during the year, The Blue Mountains, Maitland, Nowra, Tasmania, New Zealand, to name but a few. The Festival of Chocolate has become so popular and with a following of chocoholics it is now carried on around the world. The art of chocolate making classes are very much in vogue, learning to create fine hand-made chocolate delicacies, like chocolate truffles, moulded chocolate, chocolate decorations, for cakes and desserts, and even chocolate sculptures is becoming the in thing.

Bird female wrens pair

Bird female wrens pair

The next Festival of Chocolate at The Rocks is in September, when over 112,000 people are expected to attend the 80 mouth watering stalls offering gourmet goodies to satisfy even the most insatiable chocoholic. Australians eat an average of five kilograms of chocolate per person every year.

Sydney’s early convict days live on in The Rocks, a jumble of cobblestone streets, and cul-de-sacs just five minutes from Circular Quay. You only have to step off the harbour foreshore to find the sandstone terraces and cottages of some of Sydney’s oldest Pubs. This historic precinct draws both visitors and locals with museums, markets, and hotels with harbour views. The past and the present collide in the best possible way in The Rocks, home of both ghostly tours and some of Sydney’s liveliest celebrations including the Chocolate Festival.

The Rocks Discovery Museum is a free, family friendly museum which tells the story of The Rocks area of Sydney from Pre-European days to the present. Housed in a restored 1850’s sandstone warehouse, the museum is home to a unique collection of images and archaeological artefacts found in The Rocks- some of which you can even hold the exhibits are filled with interactive fun, using touch screens, audio and visual elements to bring the history of the area alive.

There is also The Rocks markets where you can buy dresses and bags designed by the stall holder, one-off jewellery, all in a place where you can catch a glimpse of Sydney Harbour.

Aboriginal Art Galleries offer authentic aboriginal artworks, crafts, artefacts, glass, ceramics and didgeridoos. Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to add to your collection, you will find a variety of works from emerging artists as well as investment artworks. All works sourced from the artists and aboriginal community.

A visit to The Rocks in Sydney is a must and will not be a disappointment.

Now is a good time to tour the 74 Whitsunday Islands which lie between the northeast coast of Queensland, and the Great Barrier Reef, a massive stretch of coral teeming with marine life, although any time is a good time to visit this beautiful region. Most of the islands are uninhabited, characterised by dense rainforest, hiking trails and wide beaches. Skipper-your-self “bareboat” sailing is popular for island hopping since there are few other means of transportation, you can rent a yacht, catamaran, or motor cruiser. A visit to The Whitsundays is a feast for the senses, the stunning natural landscapes of coast and islands are dotted with secluded beaches and friendly towns.

The Whitsundays spread majestically through the Coral Sea; the sandy fringes of these 74 Islands disappear into beautiful shades of crystal, aqua, blue and Indigo Ocean. Sheltered by The Great Barrier Reef, there are no crashing waves or deadly undertows, and waters are particularly perfect for sailing.

Whitehaven Beach is a 7km stretch along Whitsunday Island and the largest of the 74 Whitsundays. Warm, turquoise hued water and soft, impeccably white sand is simply heaven on earth. Daydream Island, Hamilton Island, Hayman Island, Fraser Island, Hook Island, Long Island, South Molle, each has their own beauty and offers of spectacular accommodation, restaurants, spas, and all the joys of island living. The Islands are the romantic destinations of more wedding proposals and honeymoons per square metre than anywhere else in Australia. Airlie Beach, on the mainland, is the coastal hub and major gateway to the Islands. The Whitsundays were named by Captain Cook, who sailed through the passage on Whitsunday in 1770.

Bird Lorikeet close up

Bird Lorikeet close up

Here at Shelly Beach we have been invaded by flocks of lorikeets, pink and grey galahs, currawongs and black backed magpies. My yellow wattle bird is still being hand fed, and Princess Pixie the Pomeranian has found the garden lizard once again. The sea has been extremely rough with huge waves, but the surfers are still out in full.

My books “The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain, Letters of a Travelling Lady, Wallis the Woman I love,” have four stars by ‘Good Reads’ which is satisfying.   Available on Amazon,Xlibris, and my website.

cheers. Patricia.