In January, we rented a house with a huge patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the Central Coast, in Killcare, about one hour drive North of where we live.
We stayed mostly close to Putty Beach and the surrounding area that encompasses 27 ha including beach, rehabilitated sand-mined area, natural areas, Killcare Surf Club and public facilities.
We mostly enjoyed the beach in the early mornings before it got too hot.
Each morning, we admired the newly built nets of the Garden Orb Web spiders.
In this area, whales can be seen passing the shores between June and July on their migratory route from Antartica to breed in warmer tropical waters. Between the month of October and November, they can be seen making their way back to the rich waters of Antartica to feed after giving birth. We learned that the common species are Humpback Whales and Southern Right Whales. We also hiked in the Bouddi National Park, a park that was established in part by the relentless fight for the environment by bushwalker, Marie Byles (1900-1979). The close-by bay area features a huge marina and many stores and cafes next to the shoreline which we exploited for late breakfasts during our stay.
During one of our beach walks, we found several washed-up Bluebottles.
Alexandra invited her boyfriend, Alex, over and both enjoyed swimming in the ocean.
Both, Sophia and Alexandra, modelled for me while I was flying my drone over the sandy beaches.
We had breakfast in town where the Rainbow lorikeets unashamed visited the restaurant tables.
Finally, I pieced together the best drone shots and came up with this movie:
More pictures here.
In January, Gisela and I spent three days in Canberra, the capital city of Australia which is inhabited by ~400,000 people. The city is located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 280 km (170 mi) south-west of Sydney. We drove the Federal Highway — the motorway that links Sydney with Canberra passing Lake George-an endorheic lake that has no outflow of water to rivers and oceans. The 25 km long lake is currently half empty creating a strange, perfectly flat, meadow with grazing sheep and cattle.
Upon arrival, we visited Canberra Glassworks observing glass artists working in a hot room with blast furnaces blowing and melting glass. The venue also showcases art by several local glass artists serving as an inspiration for Gisela's art.
In the evening, we had dinner at The Boat House with a fascinating view of Lake Burley Griffin and the beautiful lakefront. We had a 4-course menu of Modern Australian Cuisine including cherry-wood smoked duck which we liked.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the Urban Pantry. We started the day visiting Parliament House admiring Canberra's most recognisable landmark up close: the stainless steel flag mast with the Australian flag flying above Capital Hill. We have learned that “the flag mast is the main focal point of the Parliamentary Triangle and you can walk directly under it when you explore Parliament House's grass roof. You can also see it from vantage points all around Canberra. The design of the flag mast pays homage to Walter Burley Griffin's plan for a pyramidal Capitol building—a ceremonial public space that would celebrate the achievements of the Australian people—which he envisioned as the centrepiece to his design for Canberra.” The flag is 12.8 metres long and 6.4 metres high and flies 24 hours a day—under the Australian national flag protocols, it can be flown at night because it is floodlit.
We enjoyed easy access to the building's 'law-making axis', on which the House of Representatives and Senate chambers are located. Parliament House was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988 and consists of 4,700 different rooms of which many display stunning architecture and design.
At the National Gallery of Australia, we enjoyed Indigenous, Australian, Pacific, Asian and European art.
We extended our visit to the outside where one can find the Sculpture garden between the National Gallery of Australia and the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.
We then visited the National Carillon—a very tall bell tower.
Before dinner at Sage Dining Rooms, we stopped at the Australian War Memorial— Australian’s most visited landmark. The Australian War Memorial brings together a world-class museum and a shrine of remembrance to offer a diverse experience of war.
The next day, we started with breakfast at Little Brother Cafe at the Red Hill lookout with friends. Afterwards, we visited the National Library of Australia which dates back to the early years after the Australian Federation in 1901, admiring work by Peter Dombrovskis. Clearly, Tasmania moved up on our bucket list of destinations. His technical expertise was amazing! He clearly not only waited for the right time for the light to have good tone but also waited for the wind to produce the desired ripples on water for the best reflection. We really liked the colourful bark of the Snow Gum.
At the Old Bus Depot Markets, Gisela was again looking for inspiration for her Glassart.
Finally, we went to the National Museum of Australia and experienced the epic narrative of the Songlines, Tracking the Seven Sisters. Remarkable! We really liked the dome with the two short all-around movies projected to the ceiling.
On our way back, we stopped by at a winery for a quick lunch and some tasting.
More pictures here.
On Saturday, we were bush walking at the Lake Parramatta Reserve, a 73-hectare bushland reserve located within two kilometres of the Parramatta central business district. It is the largest bushland remnant surviving in the Parramatta Local Government Area. It is also recognised as one of the most significant and beautiful bushland remnants in Western Sydney.
We enjoyed the many Eastern Water Dragons that run away when approached as well as the colourful flowers.
More pictures here.