Patricia Newell-Dunkley – Photographs by Reginald J. Dunkley.

Greetings from a very cold down under, with snow falling heavily on the Blue Mountains and even possibly in Queensland. New South Wales and Victoria are bearing the brunt of the Antarctic-like cold front sweeping Australia with Canberra having its coldest June in eighteen years. Blizzard like conditions swept into New South Wales ski fields dumping 40cm of snow at Perisher and Thredbo. Enthusiastic skiers are enjoying the winter wonderland conditions.

Australia and New Zealand enjoy a healthy rivalry when it comes to snow and skiing, Australia has the largest ski resort in Australasia, Perisher in New South Wales with 1245 hectares of terrain, followed by Mount Ruapehu’s Whakapapa resort in New Zealand’s North Island which has 550 hectares. Thredbo has the longest run, 5.9 – kilometre super trail, while New Zealand has the most vertical descent, 722 metres on the Rura side of Mount Ruapehu.



The Canterbury region of New Zealand’s Mount Hutt and the club fields of Craigiburn, Cheeseman and Broken River get more that 4 metres a season, Australian ski fields average 3 metres.   However, skiing in New Zealand is above the tree line, so tree skiing is out, while in Australia the snow gums provide definition when the weather settles in.

Australian fields are based around a village, while guests in New Zealand stay in Satellite towns. Queenstown in New Zealand has a stunning lakeside resort town with 130 bars and restaurants and on a down day you can go bungy jumping, jet boating, winery hopping, play golf, go to a spa or take in a movie.



If you like your powder untouched, prefer your pitch steep New Zealand is the place to go, helicopters take skiers and boarders to another world deep within the impressive southern alps . Cat skiing is offered in the Mackenzie region and snow planes take skiers on to the Tasman Glacier for 10-kilometre runs. If you want to ski with like-minded people, then join one of the specialised courses.

Whip – Women’s high intensity programme at Thredbo N.S.W.

Boomers and Groomers – For those over 50 who want to improve ski skills.

Spring Youth Snowboard Camp – for 7 – 14 year olds.

ASAP Treble Cove New Zealand – for advanced skiers.

Gay Ski Week Queenstown New Zealand – Mountain events and white-out party and more.

For an overview of New Zealand tap up

For those whose passion is skiing Australia and New Zealand offer you the best

of both worlds at this special time of year.



Meanwhile if you are still cruising the Pacific for warmth and relaxation, it’s time to call into Tonga. Here they enjoy an extremely comfortable climate which is pleasant the year round and are known as the Friendly Islands. Tonga is a Polynesian Kingdom of more than 170 islands many uninhabited, most lined in white beaches and coral reefs and covered with tropical rainforest, the main island, Tonga tapu, is protected by lagoons and limestone cliffs.

The Kingdom of Tonga is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled of Pacific Island nations. Dramatic volcanic landscapes combine with pristine coral atolls and beaches, sustaining and nurturing flora and fauna. It is the only Pacific Nation never to have been colonised, The Kingdom’s robust history, culture and   traditions are a vital part of daily life. Tongans enjoy the beach and sea and revel in any opportunity to sing and dance. Religion comes a close second to family and almost all Tongans are church goers.

There is plenty to do in Tonga: Diving with wrecks to discover, corals, walls chasms and caves to explore.

Fishing: The mighty Blue Marlin.

Kayaking: Along beautiful white sandy beaches.

Whale Watching:   Or swim alongside the humpback.

Sailing and Surfing.

Experience a traditional Tongan Feast and cultural show.

Hiking, Snorkelling and discover the wonders of the ocean.

Or you can just chill out and enjoy the company of these beautiful and friendly people, who will make sure you enjoy every minute you spend on their Island. Tongans do everything wholeheartedly, and that includes feasts heaped high with food, infectious smiles and energy. You will not be disappointed.

Shelly Beach is looking good even though it is extremely cold, the hardy are still surfing and it doesn’t deter folk from having breakfast al fresco while enjoying the sun and sea breeze. The garden is full of hungry birds and we have now got permanent white-backed Magpies and black Currawong feasting with the Lorikeets and many others, my Thrush is still being hand fed and stays most of the day. Princess Pixie the Pomeranian has a nice thick coat so the cold does not worry her. The neighbour’s cat is still sneaking in but soon chased away when Pixie spies it. My website is being daily visited and appears to be popular which is heartening. Books “The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain, Letters of a Travelling Lady, Wallis the Woman I Love.” Available on Amazon, Xlibris and website:

Cheers. Patricia.