We spent one night in a hotel close to the airport and woke bright and early to pick up Simone’s dad from the airport. Bob was flying in from China to spend Christmas with us and we had 12 days to show him Australia! Since it was Christmas time, Sydney was extremely expensive, so we decided to first rent a house up in Avalon, about an hour and a half North of Sydney. The vacation rental called Between the Beaches was a great location just outside of Avalon city. The owners lived upstairs and we had a great 2 bedroom self-contained unit downstairs for 4 nights. We arrived to some delicious cupcakes and fresh raisin bread. We were also delighted to find, butter, Jam and milk in the fridge to get us started.
We were only minutes from several different beaches, all with their own draws. We spent one day down at the beach where Bob and Jason tried a bit of snorkeling and Simone watched. We cooked some good meals and relaxed a bit, truly enjoying the laid back beach town vibe. We decided to go into Sydney one day and took the Ferry from Manly, a $14 return fare and well worth the price! We were able to view the Opera House and Harbor Bridge from the Ferry before spending the day walking the streets. We checked out the Opera House and the Rocks area including a small free museum. The Rocks area is an older part of the city that has been restored to show some of the city’s history. We had some lunch from a street fair we ran into.
Then we took the free city bus down George Street to Midtown where we got off and walked through Hyde Park. It was a hot day, so the shade of the trees felt great. We heard several police cars and helicopters and walked up towards the Mint to check it out. We learned that just across the barricade there was a police standoff. A man in a car was threatening that he had a bomb. The standoff ended after we left with the police rushing the vehicle. It turns out the man didn’t have a bomb, but did have a lighter and accelerants. We watched the action for a while before strolling through the botanic gardens back towards the ferry. We stopped for a well-deserved ice cream before boarding the ferry back to Manly.
Our next 4 nights were spent in the Blue Mountains. We rented a vacation cabin in Leura, a good location to check out the sites in the area. We had been a bit spoiled at Between the Beaches and were quite disappointed by the cabin in Leura. It looked as if it hadn’t been rented in a while and was very dirty and full of dead bugs and live ants. We were also disappointed to see the minimal kitchenware in the full kitchen as this was where we would be having Christmas dinner. We made the best of it and headed to the market to stock up. While in the Blue Mountains we took advantage of the nice cool weather and saw some of the well-known sites.
We went to the lookout at Echo Point to see the 3 Sisters and the next day went into Scenic World. For just over $30 USD each we purchased an unlimited day pass into the park which included use of the 2 SkyTrams and the Railroad, as well as several walkways through the rainforest at the bottom. We all felt that we got our money’s worth.
The next day, Christmas Eve we drove an hour and a half out to the Jenolan Caves for the day. For about the same price as Scenic World we were able to do an hour-long guided underground cave tour and a 2 hour self guided cave walk. Both were interesting but we enjoyed the self guided walk at our own pace a bit more. We had a picnic lunch between the walks and a hot chocolate from the restaurant before heading back to the cabin. We decided to do our Christmas dinner that night so we would have time to eat the left overs the next day!
Our Christmas was quiet and relaxing. We watched a couple of Christmas movies on TV and the guys had Roo Burgers for dinner. The next morning we headed to Taralga, a small town about 3 hours south of the Blue Mountains. We would be staying with Joy and Lionel. Bob met Joy 40 years prior in Greece while traveling the world! It was a great stay, catching up and enjoying some great food and entertainment. We enjoyed seeing all of their animals including baby ducks, doves, quail, Billy the goat, Rusty the dog and Blossom the cat. Check out more photos on our Facebook page!
Bob’s whirlwind trip ended back in the Sydney area, where we spent two nights in North Ryde before all heading to the airport on the 30th. We were headed to Perth in Western Australia and Bob was headed back to China.