With extended family members living in faraway places, holidays are often hit-or-miss regarding who’s available to spend time with us. Last year, with the prospect of celebrating on our own, Larry and I decided to head south—as in the Southern Hemisphere—during December.
|Sydney Harbor Bridge|
Both land and sea experiences were combined into the same 23-day excursion, which simplified planning on our part. Our flight landed in the international city of Sydney at 8:20 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and a few hours later we enjoyed our first Australian experience by climbing the famous Harbor Bridge. After a late lunch of pizza in an outdoor café, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area and taking photos of the bridge, harbor, and iconic Opera House.
|Brilliantly red Ayers Rock|
We learned about the vital cultural and religious significance of Ayers Rock to the traditional aboriginal tribes and marveled at its ruddy beauty while walking around the enormous monolith.
The next day we drove six hours to the pioneering town of Alice Springs, an oasis at the base of the MacDonnell Mountain Ranges in central Australia. We learned more about endemic plants and animals that fill this seemingly hostile environment with life at the beautifully planned Alice Springs Desert Park.
|Coral in the Great Barrier Reef comes in many sizes and shapes.|
A flight to Cairns to visit the Great Barrier Reef was the final leg of our overland tour. A full day excursion to the reef for snorkeling and other adventures was definitely a highlight of the trip. Although there are 2,904 individual reefs with 900 islands and many channels between, we were delighted to see even a portion of the spectacular coral shelf along with a variety of fish swimming there.
|Locals having Christmas fun in Marlborough Sound, New Zealand|
|Passengers singing Christmas songs.|
|Larry and Santa|
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier