Hang-glider over Shelly Beach. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Hang-glider over Shelly Beach. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Winter weather at last with heavy snow falling on the highlands and making the skiers happy.  Meanwhile, surfers are still pounding the waves regardless of the weather — the bigger the waves the better they like it. Sadly, the Socceroos departed from The World Cup earlier this month after a 3-2 loss to Netherlands. They played hard and did well but it was not to be and the indefatigable German side snatched the victory in the finals. On the upside though, N.S.W. Blues finally beat Queensland Maroons in the State of Origin to end an eight-year drought.  Queensland supremacy in rugby league is over.

Whale watchers were ecstatic when Migaloo the great white whale was spotted in Sydney harbour. This famous whale was sighted in the company of four other whales as the seasonal migration of humpbacks makes their way to warmer waters.  The sensational white humpback was first observed in 1991 and named Migaloo an aboriginal word for ‘White Fella’. He was the only known white whale in the world until 2011 when an all-white calf was filmed. It is not known how old he is but experts have estimated he was possibly born in 1988. These beautiful creatures can live to 80 years of age. Migaloo, who glows like a fluorescent light, has ‘Special Status’ in N.S.W. and Queensland: watchers must stay at least 500 metres away – 600 metres for aircraft and jet skis – and there are heavy fines for law breakers.  With interest ever-growing over Migaloo’s sighting, Twitter and Emails are flourishing and the news goes around the world.  Meanwhile, the whales frolic and play, altogether blissfully unaware of the interest storm they are creating, or are they?   hanglider

The search for missing Flight MH370 continues, as do the multiple theories about its fate, including claims that the aircraft was accidently shot down in a military exercise that went wrong.  Questions also abound over the mystery cargo, since NNR Global Logistics refuses to reveal its contents.  It is also suggested that Flight 370’s flight path implies the plane went ‘rogue’ to dodge military radar and avoid flying over land.  Other theories concentrate on the pilot being the chief suspect in the saga.  The Australian Government has now launched a private tender contract to find the wreckage of the plane.  It has budgeted $60m over the next year to fund the search and will give the winning bidder 300 days to get results.  A new area has been targeted west of Perth when an underwater probe resumes in August.

If you fancy going Medieval, Kryal Castle in Ballarat Victoria is the place for you. This adventure park creates a legendary land of fairytales with wizards, kings, queens, princesses, princes and  fairies galore. Within the castle is a dragon’s labyrinth to be negotiated and the stunning special effects make it great fun.  Jousting and sword fighting contests, rendered in flamboyant costumes of the past, will keep you on your toes as the excitement mounts.  The menu of fun is endless: the wizard mixing potions, the torture dungeon with medieval implements, a wonderful maze and, of course, the knights’ round table. Altogether a fascinating experience and one that takes you back to a very colourful era. Ideal for school holidays.

SHELLY BEACH HANG GLIDER IN THE AIRSydney’s most historical area is known as the ‘Rocks’.  Its oldest dwelling — built in 1813 as a barrack for the coxswain and crews of the government boats – is known as ‘Cadman’s Cottage’ after the longest and most colourful resident John Cadman. He arrived from England in 1789, convicted for stealing a horse. He worked in the colony for 32 years and then married Elizabeth Mortimer, who had been transported in 1818 for stealing a brush. They lived happily in the pretty stone cottage overlooking Sydney Cove for 15 years. This area is rich with stories like this and is a favourite for both residents and visitors, abounding with romance — Sydney’s heart, the birthplace of our nation.

The centre of the ‘Rocks’ is Argyle Street, named by Governor Macquarie in 1810 when it became a residential district for maritime workers. These dwellings are mainly terraced houses, small and close together and, today, extremely valuable and much sought after. There is a delightful village Green which is a focal point for visitors and residents alike, old fashioned lampposts and beautiful trees, with a feeling of stepping back in the past.  A splendid Garrison Church was built in 1840 and the ‘Cut’, hewn through solid stone by convicts, designed to make easy access from Sydney Cove to Darling Harbour. We have much to thank these chain-ganged convicts for.

Today, the ‘Rocks’ is a hub of activity amid its quaint cobblestone laneways, and charming sandstone buildings harking back to the past. It has become a home for the arts, new parks, plazas, walkways, cosy cafes, old pubs, boutiques, souvenir shops, upmarket restaurants, Opal Jewellers and markets. Aboriginal art, bark paintings, bags and baskets — you name it and you will find it at the ‘Rocks’. I plan to take you on a walking tour in the next Snippets.

Here at Shelly Beach the weather is cold but very sunny and bright. The birds are as hungry as ever and seem to grow in number all the time. My Yellow Wattle Bird has become very tame and waits daily for me to hand feed him, he is a real sweetie. Don’t forget to let me know if you want more on the “Rocks”.

Cheers.  Patricia.