Sydney Harbour Bridge taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Sydney Harbour Bridge taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Greetings and Happy New Year from down-under.

American yacht Comanche has taken out line honours in the 71st Sydney to Hobart yacht race with a time of two days, eight hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds. History was created when Australian Kristy Clark became the first female owner to take out the honour in the blue water classic.

The Super- maxi left behind fellow American yacht Rambler 88 to take advantage of southerly winds as it swept up the Derwent River finishing in front by more than 50 nautical miles. Thousands of cheering people lined Constitution Dock to welcome the victors.

The Australian Super-Maxi Ragamuffin 100 finished second over the line with Rambler 88 four minutes later to take third place.   Comanche is the first international line honours champion since 2009 and the first American yacht to win line honours since 1998.

Pink and grey Gallah flew in.  Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Pink and grey Gallah flew in. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

There were 32 retirements from a fleet of 108 starters due to the intense rough weather, including eight-time line honours winner and defending champion Wild Oats Eleven. The Sydney to Hobart race is an annual event hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and is considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world. Since the inaugural race in 1945 it has become one of the top three offshore yacht races and attracts Maxi-Yachts from around the Globe.

On Christmas Day 116 properties were lost along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road from a bushfire which was started by a bolt of lightning strike. Hundreds of fire fighters and dozens of tankers and aircraft are still battling the blaze, which has burned more than 2,200 hectares. The residents literally had to run for their lives leaving uneaten Christmas dinners on the table, as Victoria’s destructive blaze took hold turning the area into a war zone. Fire Authorities believe it is a bushfire that could still be burning in February. Fortunately nobody was killed but wildlife sadly was lost.

The Great Ocean Road is an Australian Heritage listed 243 kilometres stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed in World War 1, the road is the world’s largest War Memorial.

Water Dragon in Marylynne's river garden.   Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Water Dragon in Marylynne’s river garden. Taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

On May 13th 1770 Captain James Cook observed smoke from a fire on a mountain which he named Smoky Cape. Today this is a popular tourist resort located on the mid coast of New South Wales, near the mouth of the Macleay River. Because of the warm ocean in the area fed by the East Coast current which flows down from the tropical regions, it is possible to swim all year round. This also with its natural beauty makes Smoky Cape a very desirable location. Hat Head National Park is a natural paradise and a place of exceptional beauty; you can explore the lighthouse the tallest in N.S.W. climb the steep spiral stairs to the top. Captain Cook’s lookout is located beneath the lighthouse near Kempsey. Walk through coastal rainforest and heath land offering bird and whale watching, wild flowers, scenic views, and a blow hole on the way to secluded beaches.

Kempsey is the nearest town on the Pacific highway between Sydney and Brisbane, Queensland. It makes a great stop-over location when travelling north; enjoy a billy tea and damper around a campfire. Enoch William Rudder is credited with founding the settlement. He arrived from Birmingham U.K. in 1834 and named it Kempsey because it reminded him of Kempsey Valley in Worcestershire, England.

Once an Aboriginal area for at least 9,000 years by the Dunghutti People, there are significant sites remaining in the Macleay Valley, Spears, Boomerangs, Shields, Digging Sticks, Water and Food Carriers have been collected, and preserved. The Dunghutti- Ngaku Aboriginal Art Gallery is nestled in Parkland on the South side of Kempsey. Here you will find art works of prominent established and emerging Aboriginal Artists of the region, which are stunning in their beauty together with Weaving, Baskets, Bush Foods, Wood and Textiles, all are available for purchase. Website   Look it up you will be amazed.

Pelican at The Entrance taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

Pelican at The Entrance taken by Reginald J. Dunkley

The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney celebrates its bicentenary in 2016. When Lachlan Macquarie became Governor in 1810 he and his wife had a vision for an English Parkland setting with a grand house. He was a man who liked regulations including, no grazing, no removal of rocks, no boat landings in the “Demesne” (Domain). He removed the remaining buildings, including a bakehouse and a windmill. The road system was completed, including the loop now known as Mrs. Macquarie’s Road. June 13th 1816 is traditionally observed as Foundation Day for the Botanic Garden, one of the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew opened to the public in 1841. This major Botanic Garden is located in the heart of Sydney in a stunning position on Sydney Harbour with breathtaking views, immediately adjacent to Sydney CBD and the Opera House, and the large public parklands of the Domain. It is one of the most visited attractions in Sydney with a full calendar of events for the coming year, open every day and access is free.

Shelly Beach is looking good with lots of holiday makers and fun being had by all. There was a wonderful firework display locally at The Entrance ushering in the New Year, and the whole of Australia celebrated in grand style around the states. Sydney put on its usual dazzling world famous display honouring Australia’s first Nations Culture Land and Peoples, including a giant Aboriginal Flag.

The garden birds have celebrated the New Year in fine style and Princess Pixie the Pomeranian is watching out for the lizard who seems to have disappeared. Good Luck and Good Health to one and all.

Cheers. Patricia.