Happy New Year to everyone.  The weather is wild down under with scorching heat and raging bush fires in South Australia, and now the SES is sending in sand bags and swift water rescue teams for the oncoming expected rainfalls of  200 Millimetres for the ‘once in 30-year’ weather event.  At least it will help to rejuvenate the burnt forests; with all the gum leaves gone the Koalas have to be relocated.

The Sydney to Hobart Yacht race was won by “Wild Rose” with “Wild Oats X1” taking line honours. Every Boxing Day at 13.00 hours Sydney becomes an amphitheatre for the start of the great race, hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.   Hundreds of thousands of spectators watch from the shore, on the water, or live on television.  Many of the entrants travel thousands of miles to compete in the classic event, such as Polish skipper Mariusz Koper on Kathasis 11 who entered for the first time. It is such a famous race and dream of a lifetime for those who make the pilgrimage, and the 70th held in 2014 was no exception. Since the inaugural race in 1945 it has become one of the top three offshore yacht races in the world. The race was initially planned to be a cruise by Peter Luke and friends, however when a visiting British Royal Naval Officer Captain John Illingworth, suggested it be made a race the event was born. The panorama of The Sydney to Hobart is a sight to behold, and one not to be forgotten in a hurry.

According to Fijian Legend the great Chief Lutunasobasoba led his people across the seas from East Africa to the new land (now called Fiji) around 1,000 years ago. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman accidently discovered the Islands in 1643 and one hundred years later Captain James Cook sailed through, while Captain William Bligh made the first mapping of the Islands in 1789.  Castaway Island was the first to be developed and considered the best of the 332 Islands of which 220 are still un-inhabited.  Fiji is a tropical island paradise and gained independence in 1970.  A holiday in Fiji is like taking a tonic, as most of the year sweet South Pacific breezes cool the air, as you stroll along pristine white sandy beaches, or scuba dive among the soft corals and breathtaking abundant fish life. So be prepared to fall in love with these exotic islands and the friendly folk who live there, Fiji is renowned for its wedding proposals. So if you are planning a ‘Destination Wedding’ Fiji is the favourite location and the home of happiness.

Jenolan Limestone Caves are the largest, most spectacular, and most famous caves in Australia and located within The Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve in the Central Tablelands West of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.  The caves are the most visited of several similar groups in limestone caves ofthe country, and the most ancient discovered open caves in the world and form  part of the UNESCO World Heritage.  For thousands of years the Jenolan area has been part of the culture of local indigenous people who penetrated the caves carrying the sick to be bathed in the water which they believed to have curative powers. Today the caves are a favourite tourist attraction with awe inspiring caverns, pure underground rivers, breathtaking formations, and the world’s oldest open cave system with incredible natural beauty. A weekend staying at Jenolan Caves House designed and built by Walter Liberty Vernon, with no expense spared.  It was constructed in 1897 using alpine, picturesque Federation, Arts and Craft style which takes you back to the Victorian and Edwardian Era.  It is an icon of the Blue Mountains accommodation, and on the New South Wales State Heritage register.  It has a magnificent restaurant with a ‘Grand Dining Room’ one of only two that still survive in Australia from that elegant era. Incorporating romantic, historical guestrooms, modern rooms, backpacker lodge, and bush cottages.  Caves House offers warm country hospitality.

IMG_0981Missing airliner MH370 is “very likely” to be found if it lies in the undersea zone now being scoured, and is probably in good condition despite being submerged for ten months, the Australian Search Chief told AFP.  Three vessels, with a fourth on the way, are probing the depths of the Indian Ocean off Western Australia where it is believed to have crashed. The hunt is expected to wrap up in May.

With the extreme hot weather lifesavers are at their limit as swimmers ignore the safety message and do not swim between the flags. Hundreds of rescues and thousands of preventive actions sum up the hectic holiday season for lifesavers protecting large crowds of locals and tourists on the Central Coast Beaches.  With the warm weather and possibility of sharks it is essential to follow the rules.  The cricket is in full flow and the tennis stars are lining up in Melbourne for the Australian Open.  Summer is well and truly here and everyone is enjoying their favourite passion, as we zoom into 2015.

Here at Shelly Beach a new addition has been added to the family with the adoption of nine year old Pixie, a little Pomeranian doggie which I obtained from a Rescue Centre.  Pixie is settling in and watches with interest as I feed the birds. The Kookaburra is a regular visitor now and my Mistletoe Thrush is enjoying his special attention, while the Lorikeets are happily munching everything they can find.  Meanwhile it’s a constant filling of water in the bird baths to make sure they have enough to drink.

Cheers.  Patricia.