Greetings from a very sunny down under with summer fast approaching and   floral festivals around the country celebrating the occasion.

The world-renowned Jacaranda Festival is held annually in Grafton, Northern Rivers N.S.W. from the last weekend in October to the first weekend in November. Inaugurated in 1934 this was the first of Australia’s Folk Festivals and celebrates the magnificent spectacle of the hundreds of lilac-blossomed trees, which grow in Grafton’s broad lined avenue. The festival starts with the crowning of the new “Queen” in an open ceremony under the canopy of Jacaranda blooms. During the week there is zany street theatre and live entertainment. The Venetian Carnival has performances on a floating stage on the Clarence River with a finale of fireworks. There are markets and the grand parade of colourful floats, and this year celebrates the 80th anniversary of this picturesque festival.

The Clarence Valley is situated at the Southern end of the Northern Rivers Region of N.S.W. and is an area of astonishing physical beauty and cultural diversity – where teeming marine parks, ancient rainforests and thriving rural communities are nourished by vast winding rivers. The largest is the Clarence which links rugged highlands, and the golden beaches that fringe the sparkling Pacific. It winds through lush farmland, sleepy villages, and 100 chartered islands, and was once the region’s main trade route. Named by Capt. Henry Rous in honour of the Prince William 1st Duke Clarence. The Aboriginal people call the river Breimba or Berrinbah.

Tyler Wright makes a move on World Surfing Crown with Roxy Pro France win as fellow Aussies fall in quarter finals. The twenty year old is surging forward with a near perfect score of 19.20 out of a possible 20 with two more events to be held. It is now a battle of the fittest with Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright working overtime to thwart Steph Gilmore claiming the crown. The two Aussie surfers have racked up thousands of air miles travelling from Oz to U.S., France, next Portugal and Hawaii. Good luck!

The search for MH370 continues as underwater mapping discovers extinct volcanoes, deep trenches, high ridges, and 1,400 metre depressions on the seabed of the Southern Indian Ocean where experts think the plane may have most likely crashed. Sonar mapping is essential as the underwater investigation will be carried out by deep water vehicles. The terrain of the area around Broken Ridge makes the European Alps look like foothills. Australia is committed to do all it can to find the last resting place of MH370 and the 239 people missing. This technology was used to detect the wreckage of Air France Flight in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil, as well as the Tudor warship “Mary Rose” under the seabed near Portsmouth, England. The Bureau is “cautiously optimistic” the plane will be discovered after seven long months.  

The Grand Final between The Rabbitohs’ and The Bulldogs was watched by an excited crowd of approx. 90,000 as the Rabbitohs broke their long drought with a fairytale win 30 – 6. South Sydney owner Russell Crowe hailed the contribution of his players and staff after the club sealed a first premiership in 43 years. Crowe saluted the impact Sam Burgess has had since his arrival in 2010. The Englishman received the Clive Churchill Medal for his performance, and one that will go down in Rugby League Folklore. The Hollywood super star bought the club in 2006 and has since helped restore it to success.

The Australian Football League Grand Final played on September 27th, between Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans was won by Hawthorn with 63 points.

With the footie now over the Cricket Season is about to start.

Seventy-one year old Lavinia Petrie broke the record for the 70- 74 years age group in the half-marathon at the Oceania Masters Athletic Titles in Bendigo, Melbourne. This remarkable woman raced the 21.1km around the city in 1 hour 37.38 mins., smashing what had been the record mark of 1 hour 42 mins. The record breaking feat and gold medal capped an outstanding performance across the 9 day Championships. Holding six world records Petrie has been chosen as the IAAF Female Masters Athlete of the Year 2014 award which will be presented at a gala dinner to be held in Monaco on Friday 21st November.

The Hunter Valley Vineyards are a two hour drive from Shelly Beach, and a popular spot to visit especially when spring has arrived and the vines break into “budburst” where the first buds heralding the new vintage appear. From fine wine to gourmet food to beautiful accommodation and fabulous events, a Hunter Valley getaway offers a taste of the good life. Australia’s most visited wine region is home to 150 top-class wineries, vineyards and cellar doors. You can take a wine appreciation class, wine tasting tour, visit the winemakers centre, or browse the Hunter Valley Gardens.

Here at Shelly Beach we have enjoyed the October long weekend, with many tourists and holidaymakers basking in the very warm weather. The birds are happy and there seems to be more of them, no sign of my Butcher bird but I am sure he will return soon.

Cheers. Patricia.    

Bird Lorikeet hand feeding